Yorkshire’s big chance to get onto the map

Jocelyn Payne is vying for a slice of the biggest UK prize pot outside of London at the inaugural Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon in York tomorrow.

A total prize fund of £12,000 is up for grabs with the 23-year-old Doncaster-born runner eyeing the £500 on offer for the first Briton across the line.

The big names from the running super-powers of Africa are chasing top prizes of £2,500.

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John Mutai, of Kenya, 25, who holds a personal best of 2:11.08, is among the favourites in the men’s race. He won the Lake Annecy Marathon this year and the race in Edinburgh last 

The Yorkshire Marathon’s predominantly flat course is expected to generate quick times which will suit Mutai.

Ethiopia’s Edwin Kiprop Korir will celebrate his 25th birthday tomorrow. He finished second in this year’s Zurich Marathon and is one to watch.

Flying the flag for Yorkshire in the men’s race is Paul Marchant, of Leeds.

The 40-year-old Rothwell Harrier was the first Yorkshireman home in this year’s London Marathon in a time of 2:27.

Tarus Elly, 28, who lives in Manchester, will take on his first marathon in Yorkshire.

Elly was the winner of this year’s Asda Foundation Pennine Lancashire 10K, second-placed at the 2013 Chester Half Marathon and has a half-marathon personal best of 66 minutes.

The race for the women’s title is an equally open contest, with a top prize of £2,500 again on offer.

Helen Cherono Koskei, 29, from Kenya, has a personal best of 2:29.33. Koskei was second in this year’s Belfast Marathon and took the silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

Rising star Tigist Sheni, who hails from the same town of Bekoji in Ethiopia as the Dibaba sisters, Bekele brothers and Olympic gold medallist Tiki Gelana, is also one to watch.

Whoever crosses the line first, Payne believes the atmosphere generated and the occasion itself will help get the race on marathon’s world map.

“I hope it becomes established,” said Payne. “It will never replace London, that’s a massive cultural thing.

“You’re not going to become a world marathon major, but if you look at the calibre and mentality of runners in the north, and especially in Yorkshire, we needed a proper, decent marathon.

“It’s great that it’s part of the Jane Tomlinson group of races, because that’s a massive charity appeal in the area.

“A couple of years down the line it could become as big as the Edinburgh Marathon, something like that.”

The Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon starts at the University of York at 9.30am.