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Cheltenham Harriers runner Alex Lee is chasing another podium finish in Sunday’s Cheltenham Half Marathon

All Areas > Sport > Running

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 12:20

Alex Lee (number 3578) will be running in the Cheltenham Half Marathon on Sunday Alex Lee (number 3578) will be running in the Cheltenham Half Marathon on Sunday

The facts tell their own story. Over the past four years of running the Cheltenham Half Marathon, Alex Lee has finished sixth, fifth, fourth and then third last year.

Now the Cheltenham Harrier is hoping for an even better result in Sunday’s race although he admits he’d be “pleased with another podium finish”.

The 37-year-old only started running seriously in his early 30s – he first ran the Cheltenham Half in 2013 when he finished 19th in a time of one hour, 20 minutes, 36 seconds.

Fast forward to last year and he completed in a time of 70 minutes, 39 seconds, so it’s not just his final race position that is moving in a very healthy direction.

As is often the case with runners, Lee initially took up the sport because he wanted to get a bit fitter.

“I started doing a few parkruns,” he said. “That’s when I decided I wanted to get better at 5K, I wanted to go faster.”

And it wasn’t just 5Ks because after running his first Cheltenham Half – “I did alright,” he said –  it encouraged him to join Cheltenham Harriers.

“I’ve always been quite active and I enjoy running,” said the one-time Balcarras Sixth Form pupil.

And he’s certainly stretching himself these days because he ran the London Marathon for the first time this year.

“I ran 2.42 and it was pretty horrible in a nice sort of way,” he said. “It was completely different to what I’d done before and I didn’t really train for it specifically – in fact I kind of sprang it on my coach Dave Newport a couple of weeks before!

“I got to 17 miles and I suffered from cramp and at 22 miles I was out on the floor and another runner had to stretch my legs.

“I finished though and I’m going for it again next year, I’m hoping to get closer to 2.30.”

Before that he’s got his big date on Sunday of course – the event starts at Cheltenham Racecourse at 9am – and Lee is proud that he has taken part in every running of the race.

“It’s a great event,” he said. “Nothing beats running round your home streets. I go out running six times a week and some of those roads make up the Cheltenham Half.

“Running down The Prom in my Harriers vest with loads of people watching, you get quite a buzz.”

And Lee, who will be cheered on by wife Caroline and young sons Harrison and Jenson, will get an even bigger buzz if he crosses the finish line at Cheltenham Racecourse in a higher position than 2018.

“I’d love to go one better,” he said. “But there are some pretty classy runners, I’d be pleased with another podium finish.”

So who are his big rivals?

“My training partner Dom James,” he said. “He’s come on very well in the last few years, he’s a tough guy to beat.

“Marcus England is another who is going really well but unfortunately, Ben Price, who has won it for the past two years, has been struggling with an injury so isn’t doing it this year – that’s a shame as we had a really good group of us last year but I guess at least I don’t have to worry about him this time though!”

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