SIMON Nott admitted he was shocked by the margin of his victory in the Wiltshire 10-mile road race as he smashed his personal best.

Nott, of Calne Running Club, set off at a blistering pace, with Michael Towler of Avon Valley Runners in pursuit in the race, which is sponsored by the Wiltshire Times, the sister paper of the Gazette & Herald.

Not to be deterred by the flooded River Avon at the halfway mark in Reybridge, Nott opted not to use the raised walkway and charged across the water without breaking stride.

He maintained a strong pace all the way to clock 52 minutes and 49 seconds.

“I really surprised myself and just didn’t expect to run that fast,” said Nott.

“I had never run under 53 minutes before so to improve my personal best by one-and-a-half minutes from last year (when he finished runner-up) was really pleasing.”

It was 20-year-old Nott’s first race of 2014 and first taste of action since finishing runner-up in the Wiltshire Championships in early December.

“I felt really refreshed after that break from racing,” said Nott.

By the time the course had passed Lacock Abbey, Towler had been overhauled by Melksham-born Matthew Battensby, of Burgess Salmon Running Club and George Frost of Team Bath.

But the Avon Valley Runners ace held on to record a personal best time (55:34) in fourth place.

Denise Grech was also running for Calne Running Club and like Nott was racing for the first time in 2014.

In a closely-fought ladies race with Fiona Price, of Avon Valley Runners, Grech opened up a winning margin of just ten seconds to take victory in 64:58.

Both athletes achieved personal bests, with Rachel Barber-Brock of Cirencester AC coming home for third.

“I did the race to measure my fitness for the Bath half marathon and I was really surprised to run such a big personal best,” said Grech, who also lives in Calne.

“I have been doing lot of hard training with Simon’s group and it seems to be paying off.”

The Team Bath AC grouping of George Frost, Allister Sheffield, Samuel Hedley and Stuart Paterson claimed the men’s team prize. Price, Jaqueline Rockliffe and Fleur Ross-Harris of Avon Valley Runners won the ladies prize.