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Lymington's Valeria Sesto storms to back-to-back Needles Half Marathon wins

LYMINGTON’S Valeria Sesto won one of the most challenging half-marathons in the country, the Needles Half Marathon, for the second year in a row.

The Argentina-born runner who recently won the British 100k Championships at the 2022 Anglo Celtic Plate 100k with her England teammates, led the ladies field home with a time of 1:36:33, over five minutes faster than the second-placed woman.

The men’s winner was Michael Daly, who blasted around the course in 1:25:37, four-and-a-half minutes ahead of Joe Driscoll in second.

Sesto leading the Needles Half Marathon (photo: Michael Dangerfield, Wight Productions)
Sesto leading the Needles Half Marathon (photo: Michael Dangerfield, Wight Productions)

There was further local interest in New Forest Runners’ Rona Copp, who led the FV50 age category after crossing the line at 2:00:05.

The Needles Half Marathon follows a trail along the coast from Colwell Bay to Totland Bay, over the heathland of Headon Warren to the Needles.

The runners then traverse Tennyson Down to Tennyson Monument, before descending to Freshwater Bay and across Afton Marsh, to the finish. The event started and finished at the West Wight Sports & Community Centre.

After the race, 49-year-old Sesto said: “Beautiful and tough as usual. A real pleasure to be able to enjoy this well-organised event on the Isle of Wight fully.

“Surprisingly, I won the ladies race for the second year in a row, really unexpected as on the back of a rollercoaster of travelling with my parents visiting all the way from Argentina. They were enjoying the island and food in Yarmouth so much that they only made it to watch the race after the finish!

“This year, the course had been slightly altered, and our watches said it was at least 300m longer.

“So very pleased to have run the same finishing time as my previous year.

“The organisers awarded every age-group winner with a goody bag from Isle of Wight-based Love Running running shop.

“It was a super touching gesture when we received the package.”

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