NEWPORT has a new local hero after Carla Swithenbank stormed to victory on her own doorstep in the city's marathon yesterday.

The 28-year-old former policewoman, who was third last year, led from gun to tape in the women's race as she knocked 24 seconds off her previous best time. And she made it a double for the Mickey Morris Racing Club as she followed in the footsteps of the inaugural champion, Natasha Cockram.

“I’m bouncing after that,” admitted Swithenbank. “I’m so proud to have won my local marathon and when I woke up on the morning of the race I said to myself nobody is going to beat me today.

“I’m from Newport, I live in Newport and I wanted to win this more than anything. It’s great to have gone from third last year to winning it this time.

“Last year’s race was my marathon debut and I nearly didn’t bother entering. But then I thought, this is in my home town, so I had to give it a go.”

Swithenbank has gone from strength to strength since debuting over the 26 mile, 385 yard distance a year ago. She won the European Policewomen’s title in Dublin in 2018 in 2:46.13 and is getting faster and faster.

A former Wales international footballer, she quit Cardiff City Ladies when she was 21 and has since been concentrating on running. Married to a soldier, Nick, for the past four years, she now works in customer services at Welsh Water in St Mellons.

Her winning time this weekend was 5 mins, 47 sec quicker than she ran last year and she had a 12 min, 19 sec winning gap over Swansea Harrier Alaw Beynon-Thomas, who came home in 2:58.07 on her marathon debut.

In the men's race Chris Bird flew to victory as he smashed the course record.

The Chichester runner triumphed in a course record time of 2 hrs, 31 min, 34 sec to win by two clear minutes from Otley AC’s Scott Harrington and strip 1 min, 44 sec off last year’s winning time.

“I was three seconds outside my PB in the Brighton Marathon three weeks ago and I wish I had waited for the Newport race to try to break it,” said the 36-year-old Bird.

“When I ran in Brighton I went off at 2:26.00 pace, but I had a bit of a cold and I suffered as a result. I was hoping to go even faster here, but I felt a little bit tired,” said Bird.

“Adam Holland went off hard, but I finished hard. I hit the front at around 21 miles and, even though I was tying up a bit in the end, I was able to stay clear of the rest.”

Holland held a 300-metre lead at half-way as he went through 13 miles in 74 min, 30 sec. As the race wore on, fatigue set in and he slipped to fourth place overall.

“I paced someone in the London Marathon last weekend and finished in 2:57.00 and a few weeks ago I ran from John O’Groats to Land’s End. That was 876 miles in 17 days and I felt a bit of that in my legs,” said Holland.

“When I got to 15 miles I could feel that it just wasn’t there. Now I’ve got to get home and be ready to pace someone in the Milton Keynes Marathon on Monday.”

Second placed Scott Harrington was another athlete who came to Newport after running in London, he clocked 2:30:41 last weekend and was less than three minutes down on that time.

Marathon Results

Men: 1. Chris Bird (Chichester) 2:31:34; 2. Scott Harrington (Otley AC) 2:33:34; 3. Gwylym Gibson (South West Road Runners) 2:36:28; 4. Adam Holland (Tavistock AC) 2:37:49; 5. Liam Culliford 2:38:49; 6. Tom Iverson (Builth and District RC) 2:39:49; 7. Roger Barr 2:40:40; 8. Lee Stopford (Stroud and District AC) 2:41:59; 9. Nicholas Coyle (Stroud and District AC) 2:42:01; 10. Steve Kenyon (Gloucester AC) 2:43:00

Women: 1. Carla Swithenbank (Mickey Morris Racing Team) 2:45:48; 2. Alaw Beynon-Thomas (Swansea Harriers) 2:58:07; 3. Francesca Rawlings (Clevedon AC) 3:05:18; 4. Llinos Jones (Swansea Harriers) 3:07:39; 5. Luticia Thomas (Swansea Harriers) 3:11:53; 6. Sarah Alvis (Calne RC) 3:15:49; 7. Sara Roloff (3:16:35); 8. Sam Wharton (Running Forever RC) 3:18:09; 9. Laura Tootell (Wye Valley Runners) 3:18:46; 10. Lou Summers (Pont-y-Pwl and District) 3:19:00