Chalmers breaks Inverness Harriers club record over half marathon in race won by Sir Mo Farah
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Having just shared breakfast with Sir Mo Farah, Sean Chalmers set about proving he was worthy of a seat at the top table.
The Maryburgh-raised runner set a new Inverness Harriers’ record in Northern Ireland’s Antrim Coast Half Marathon on Saturday, storming back in 65 minutes and 14 seconds to beat John Newsom’s previous best.
Having only just sneaked into a reduced field of hand-picked athletes, the ex-Fortrose Academy PE teacher was ranked 43rd of 45 going into the race.
Yet in only the second half marathon of his career, he defied modest expectations to finish 13th, elbowing in among competitors with Olympic, Commonwealth and European experience.
The entire British field was cocooned in a Covid-19 bubble at the same hotel, where Chalmers mingled with the British legend and race winner. For the 24-year-old, it was an unforgettable experience.
Now teaching at Aberdeen’s St Machar Academy, the former US college scholar – already Harriers’ 10k record-holder – admitted: “I was thrilled to pick up the record as John Newsom is a pretty established runner.
“After four years of scholarship, I’ve been really unfortunate with injuries. Only this year have I got myself ready to compete at Scottish level and now against internationals.
“I just felt lucky to be there in Northern Ireland. In June last year, I visited my girlfriend at Ayr and she mentioned there was a half marathon on that weekend. There was a bit of prize money and quite a low-key field so I contacted the organisers and won it in 1:11:35.
“For Saturday’s race, they were looking for sub-72 minute runners, but probably took my 10km time into consideration.
“I felt I could run low 66 minutes, but I had to take my place in the second wave of runners.
“It was the first time I’ve raced with only elite runners. It was tough running solo, but I felt good and it was a nice adrenaline-boost catching and picking off runners one by one.”
Chalmers hopes the race time will open new doors for future events, once athletics normalises.
For now, he has memories of Mo to inspire him.
He said: “It was pretty cool at breakfast, seeing Mo walk in and sit down with us. He was just so relaxed – always smiling and nice to everyone. I didn’t get any advice, it was just casual chat, but it was pretty inspiring to see a runner of his calibre in the same field as me.”