AFTER finishing second in a marathon one Hereford runner has set his sights on competing at the highest level over the ultra marathon distance.

Jon Barnes sent a message to his rivals last weekend when he clinched silver and set a huge personal best at the Newport Marathon last weekend.

In his first race over the classic 26.2 mile distance since 2015, Barnes went into the race hoping to break the two hours and 40 minutes barrier as he embarked on the inaugural South Wales event.

Right from the opening stages it was Barnes, who competes for Cheltenham Harriers, and Neath's James Carpenter who pulled clear of the field as they covered the opening five kilometres in 18 minutes and 31 seconds.

The fascinating duel continued with neither athlete getting away and they passed 21 miles together in two hours and three minutes.

However, at this point Barnes started to tire and by 23 miles Carpenter had pulled six seconds clear as he went on to establish a race winning gap.

The Welshman went on to take the win in 2:33:32 with Barnes managing to hold his race together to record a very impressive 2:34:13, a time 15 minutes quicker than his previous previous best he set whilst winning the 2015 Hereford Marathon.

The result continued a successful start to his season after also winning the Forest of Dean Trail Half Marathon, which incorporated the UK Short Distance Trail Running Championships by nearly a minute last month.

Barnes now plans to run the Ultra Distance Trial Running Championships in October over 30 miles and has Great Britain selection in his sights.

"I've been going well and everything is going in the right direction," said Barnes.

"There were 6,000 entries in Newport and many top club runners who couldn't do London Marathon so I thought it would be nice to get top three, so with the personal best as well I'm pretty happy but it's a shame I couldn't get the win.

"I ran a lot faster than I thought I would despite tiring in the last couple of miles and probably ran five or six minutes quicker than I thought.

"My main aim this season is to qualify for the British team in the trail running Anglo Celtic Plate."

To be selected Barnes needs to run a qualifying time of three hours and 17 minutes for 50 kilometres.

"I have my first ultra marathon early in June which is 40 miles of trail running in Wales which will take between four-and-a-half to five hours so I've been doing a lot of four-hour runs every week which helped with the marathon and do between 80 and 90 miles a week," added Barnes.

Barnes is one of several Hereford athletes who run for Cheltenham Harriers under the watch of coach Dave Newport.

Barnes was part of the team that finished third in the Midland Cross Country Relay Championship in Wolverhampton last October.