Britain’s Gemma Steel, currently in the form of her life, is confident she can regain the Bupa Great Birmingham Run title on 20 October.
The 27-year-old former winner of the IAAF Silver Label Road Race has matured into a world-class performer since her victory two years ago. On that occasion she set the still-standing course record of 72:21.
She will enter the Half-marathon in Birmingham with her confidence at an all-time high after a recent streak of excellent displays.
Last weekend Steel scorched to a course record of 32:20 at the Bupa Great Yorkshire Run. But with Birmingham on her mind, more importantly were the tactics she employed in the 10km on some testing hills in Sheffield.
Knowing she can expect top-class opposition in Birmingham, Steel decided to challenge the men and at the halfway point was lying fourth behind the leaders. She eventually crossed the finish line sixth overall and was elated after taking the women’s crown for a third successive time.
Now, after performing well on the tough US road-running circuit and finishing third in a high-quality Prague 10km in September, she has declared herself ready for the Bupa Great Birmingham Run.
“It was definitely a good idea to go abroad and face some very tough opposition in the USA,” said Steel, who finished second in Cape Elizabeth with a 10km PB of 31:36, the third-fastest time in the world this year. “I was third in Prague but beaten by two high-quality Kenyans.”
There, in the closing stages she fell to the swords of Josephine Jepkoech and World cross-country champion Emily Chebet, but it strengthened her confidence.
“I made my mark in America and I really do love racing against Africans,” said Steel, who finished seventh at the last IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.
“That's why I had the idea of racing with the men in Sheffield as it offered me the opportunity to simulate competing against the Kenyans. Now I’m not planning any high-profile races before Birmingham.”
Steel, who in recent years has defeated fellow Britons such as Paula Radcliffe, Jo Pavey and Mara Yamauchi, will be making her 2013 Half-marathon debut in Birmingham and her expectations are high.
“I’d like to think that I can run sub-70 minutes,” said Steel, who has a PB of 70:46. “At least that’s my intention.”
Organisers for the IAAF