Strong winds and flurries of rain failed to dampen spirits in the ninth Hastings Runners Keith Chandler Memorial Five-Mile Race on Sunday.
A record entry of more than 400 runners was somewhat reduced by the inclement weather with a number of no shows, but a good race unfolded at the head of the field.
The race developed into a three-way battle between local runners Max Thomas and Ross Skelton, and Patrick Akaye from Brighton Phoenix.
The trio were neck and neck until Thomas, of Hastings AC, made a decisive break with the wind behind in the second half of the race to triumph in a very creditable time of 26:21. Skelton just pipped Akaye in a photo finish for second with both runners clocking 27:17.
The ladies’ race was more clearcut. Hastings AC runner Sarah Roff took the title in 29:27 from March AC representative Melissa Neal (31:10) with Erica Martin, of Brighton Phoenix, third.
The junior men’s title went to Luke Cooper in an outstanding time of 27:54 - which would have won the outright race last year but was only good enough for fifth this time around.
Thomas, Cooper and Barry Buchanan helped Hastings AC claim the team prize, while Roff, Karen Murdoch and Frances Burnham made it a clean sweep for the local club by taking the ladies’ team title.
Pick of the many veteran categories must go to Terry Avey, of Brighton Phoenix, who collected his 100th win in three-and-a-half years in the men’s 60-65 age group.
Other local vet winners were Sylvia Huggett, of Hastings Runners, in the ladies’ V6 age group and Jamie Larkin, of Hastings AC, who won the men’s V1 prize and came eighth overall. The many marshals and helpers must also be given a mention for their devotion to duty in such awful conditions.