Race is on to be first local champion for three decades

Gary Foster, of Hastings Athletic Club, is likely to be a strong contender to win the 2018 Hastings Half Marathon this morning. Picture by Steve Hunnisett
Gary Foster, of Hastings Athletic Club, is likely to be a strong contender to win the 2018 Hastings Half Marathon this morning. Picture by Steve Hunnisett

There could well be a first local winner of the Hastings Half Marathon for more than three decades when the 2018 race takes place today (Sunday).

Unless there is a late entry from visiting Africans or other elite athletes, the door is very much open for a first local winner since Tony Graham triumphed for Hastings Runners in 1987.

There’s even the possibility of a first ever local female winner when the popular annual event, organised by the Lions Club of Hastings, takes place for the 34th time.

The strong field of local runners could make for one of the most competitive races we have seen in recent years, in what’s likely to be one of the coldest ever Hastings Half Marathons.

Rhys Boorman (race number 2029) finished third in 2016 and a superb second in 2017. The Hastings Athletic Club ace seems to produce his best form in this event, but has suffered with a few niggles in recent months and will need a big improvement on recent form if he’s to go one better than last year.

Gary Foster, also of Hastings AC, is probably the favourite. Foster has come on in great strides since a disappointing fifth place last year and confidence will be high following his sub 70-minute half in London two weeks ago.

Another Hastings AC runner in fine form is Jeff Pyrah, the evergreen vet who came second at Hastings three years ago. This season he’s been a revelation, with a second place at the Worthing Half Marathon followed by a sub 70-minute run behind Foster in London.

Since his top 10 finish last year, Matt Edmonds (554) has travelled the world clocking up PBs consistently and may well be among the frontrunners. Could he even be the second Hastings Runners member to win at Hastings?

Andrew Donno (516), of Eastbourne Rovers, may try to be in contention, but at the moment all the favourites are from our locality and it could be quite a battle up front.

Daniel Anderson, who has achieved a number of high finishes down the years, won’t be running due to a nasty Achilles injury.

The female field is also very exciting.

Hastings AC’s Stacey Clusker (5) has been running very well this season, culminating in a great time in London two weeks ago. She looks a firm favourite to win the ladies’ race.

Laura Addie (1) is the most improved athlete in the area. Although primarily a triathlete, the Hastings Runners member has been winning at all distances this season.

Whether moving up to the half marathon distance is too soon for her we will have to see, but this young talent could well be there or thereabouts in her first Hastings Half having taken part in the Mini Run a few years ago.

Hailsham Harriers runner Sue Fry (649) always seems to be a top five finisher at Hastings and although now a veteran, may still have the class to see off some of the younger competitors.

Jenna French (640), of Hastings Runners, is recovering from a shoulder operation and will be running in memory of a good friend, Dave Marshall. Hastings AC’s Rachael Grass (717) is another good local athlete.

They will be joined by around 3,000 other runners, many of whom will be raising money for various charities, on the start line in Sea Road, St Leonards, at 10.30am.

Premier Travel Chauffeurs is again offering a £1,000 prize to the first male and female to beat the course records.

Nearly 100 young runners aged 7-16 have signed up for the Saga-sponsored Mini Run, which will take place along the seafront during the main event.

Benefit from an ongoing discount on your Observer by joining our voucher membership scheme. Once you’ve subscribed, we’ll send you dated vouchers which can be exchanged for your paper at any news outlet. To save money on your Observer, simply click here (www.localsubsplus.co.uk)