Hastings Half Marathon hailed runaway success

THERE was blood, sweat and a few tears as the 27th Hastings Half Marathon took over the town’s streets on Sunday.

Thousands of runners took on the daunting 13.1 mile course, while thousands more lined the route cheering on everyone from the elite athletes battling it out for the top prizes to the hundreds of charity fundraisers hoping only to finish.

There was a carnival atmosphere as ever for the Hastings Lions-run event, with live music around the course and residents young and old on hand to offer water, fruit and much-appreciated moral support. Race director Eric Hardwick MBE said: “It was one of the best we have ever had - I have said a number of times in recent years that we cannot get any better but then we do.

“The weather was a real bonus and the conditions were nearly perfect - I was amazed how many people ran their fastest ever times and we had five records broken in various age categories.

“I am told there were record crowds and everyone gets into the spirit. We work very hard to get the support and the entertainment around the course because we want to give the runners an experience - some races are all about money but we want people to feel they have been a part of something.”

The men’s race was won by Kenyan Gordon Mugi with his compatriot Rebby Koech leading the women home. Mr Hardwick said: “The elite African runners bring a certain class but there are so many characters doing such amazing things. The race really is for everybody.”

And although there were incredible feats throughout the field - from punishing fancy dress to the Hastings firefighters pushing a bed round the course - it was Andy Chadwick completing the course backwards who really stood out. “He was remarkable - it was an amazing feat,” Mr Hardwick admitted.

Hotels and restaurants were packed over the weekend and Kevin Boorman, the head of tourism for Hastings Borough Council said: “The whole town was buzzing and there was a great atmosphere for residents and visitors alike.”

This year each runner was given a brass featuring the Banksy painting on the St Leonards seafront, with the formal presentation evening taking place at Azur on May 1.

And Mr Hardwick said: “Entries are already coming in for next year. I get an enormous amount of help each year but the only person I would single out for thanks is my wife Doreen - the work she does is just incredible.”

• For 8-page Half Marathon pull-out including full results list see Hastings Observer, March 25.