A record field of runners from all over the south lined up in the Hastings Runners 5-Mile Race.
There were more than 600 entries and 545 finishers in the 12th staging of the popular annual event yesterday (Sunday) morning.
And they enjoyed perfect running conditions, with cool temperatures, overcast skies and only a very light north-easterly breeze.
A good race unfolded at the front too with just two seconds between the first two finishers, winner Josh Guilmant (Brighton Phoenix) just pipping Gary Foster (Hastings AC) with a commendable time of 26 minutes and 10 seconds. Hot prospect Marshall Smith (Ashford AC) was third in 26:27 and won the junior boys’ title for under-17 runners.
The trio were locked together at the four-mile mark before Guilmant, a class athlete, used his fast finish to get the better of Foster, who he’d sat just behind most of the way.
It was a terrific effort, though, from the ever-improving Foster, who was well pleased with his performance after clocking a big personal best of 26:12.
Foster’s girlfriend, Stacey Clusker (Hastings AC), also came second in the ladies’ race with a time of 30:59 (chip time 30:57). Maisie Trafford (Arena 80 AC), who is coached by Guilmant, was the winner in 30:16 (chip time 30:15), with Lydia Godfrey (Lewes AC) third.
Hastings AC also achieved seventh place overall through Kieron Booker (28:06), while Paul Bennett was 19th in 29:34 (chip time 29:33) and Ben McCallion 21st in 29:45, both inside the half-hour mark.
It was a close fight to be the leading Hastings Runners competitor, with Leo Cacciatore (29:57, chip time 29:55), Fraser Key (30:00) and Mark Dobbs (30:08, chip time 30:06) finishing 24th, 25th and 26th respectively.
Among the many age group categories, the most notable results included victories for Dobbs in the M V40 race, local man Bill Solly (M V65), Andrew Haig (M V70), and a remarkable double for the Moorkite family with David taking the men’s V75 division and his wife Janice winning the ladies’ V60 title.
Other notable ladies’ achievements came from Hastings Runners trio Debbie Humbles (F V50), the evergreen Silvia Huggett, who won the F V65 category and with husband Ron has taken part in every race since its inception, and Irene Ellis, who was successful in the F V75 age group.
In the junior race for under 17 runners, the girls’ title went to Amy Mitchell, of Haywards Heath Harriers.
A race spokesman said: “Thanks go to all who helped marshal and support the race in any way, including the sea cadets who dispensed water at the halfway point, and the many sponsors, including Priory Meadow Shopping Centre, Michael Hall Associates, Wisdens Sports and local businessman John Nurse, who sponsored the medals.
“It was also pleasing to see Hastings Half Marathon race director Eric Hardwick taking part and enduring some of what he dishes out in his race!”
All proceeds from the event will go to St MIchael’s Hospice, a charity which also received a handsome donation from the Section Five Drummers, who helped entertain spectators.
The race started outside Hastings Town Hall at 10.30am and runners followed a predominantly seafront course, initially in a westerly direction before turning and heading eastwards, before returning to the town hall for the finish.
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