Four-hour barrier is target for 2013 winner

First published in Sport

FIRST held on the old cinder track at Jenner Park in 1986, this weekend's Barry 40 Miles track race has again attracted a fascinating cross section of runners.

The iconic ultradistance running event has seen 59 world best performances in its 28-year history.

At the sharp end, one should look no further than last year’s decisive winner, Pieter Vermeesch. The four-times Belgian ultradistance champion, who is based in Welwyn Garden City, ran an incredibly even-paced 4:08:59 last year, and has ambitions to be the first man at Barry to break the four-hour barrier since 1999. He may, however, still face a tough test from 2012 champion Grant Jeans, from Glasgow, who was forced to retire with a back injury 12 months ago.

Four of the 22 entries are from ladies, and it's possible to make a case for any one of them to win. Jen Salter, Angela Champion and Loretta Daley compete for the promoting club, Cardiff-based Les Croupiers, whilst Jayne Angilley travels from Redruth in Cornwall.

For the first time in the history of the race, three of the entries are from Hungarian-born athletes living in the UK - Tamas Szikszay, Zoltan Lesi and Andras Kulcsar who are all experienced 24-hour performers. Another interesting development has been the entries of two well-known Welsh actors. Richard Harrington ('Hinterland') and Mark Lewis Jones ('55 Degrees North') are both using the race as part of their build-up for Marathon des Sables in April.

As ever, the 22 athletes will have 22 very different race goals and it should be a fascinating event to watch. The start time is 10am on Sunday, March 9, and involves 161 circuits of the track. Admission is free.

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