Despite strong winds on Bexhill seafront, the 2017 Starfish Races again proved a success on Sunday.
Runners competed in three events - a full marathon, half marathon and a 10.5k relay - over a 10.5k looped seafront course which started and finished at the rear of the De La Warr Pavilion.
And even though runners had to contend with a long headwind stretch from the cliffs east of Glyne Gap to the end of the lower promenade beneath South Cliff, two course records were broken.
Jenna French, of Hastings Runners, clocked 1:39:17 to win the ladies’ half marathon and a strong Hastings AC 1 team smashed the 10.5k relay mark with a total time of 2:35.00.
Rhys Boorman stormed clear of the rest of the field on the opening leg, and the good work was continued by Blake Mitchell, Kieron Booker and Gary Foster, who was runner-up in the previous weekend’s Hastings Runners 5-Mile Race.
Sharon Barnett defended the ladies’ marathon title, while Marcos Miranda won the men’s marathon by three-and-a-half minutes from runner-up Paul Gault. Wes Mechen was the men’s half marathon winner, with Otto Haas, of Bexhill, in second place.
In all there were 57 finishers in the marathon, 68 in the half marathon and 27 teams of four in the 10.5k relay.
Leading finishers (gun times) - marathon (men): 1st Marcos Miranda 3:04.03, 2nd Paul Gault (Thanet Road Runners) 3:07.34, 3rd Alex Mandryko (Trentham Harriers New Zealand) 3:11.41, 4th Matt Payne 3:20.49, 5th Thomas Gale 3:24.24, 6th David Johnson 3:32.04, 7th Gareth Jarvis 3:32.51, 8th Lee Rogers 3:35.11, 9th Steve Evenden 3:37.14, 10th Myooran Nathan 3:37.59.
Marathon (women): 1st Sharon Barnett (Maidstone Harriers) 3:38:24, 2nd Helen Thomsit Little (Baddow Ridge Runners) 3:42:38, 3rd Susan Sutherland (Maidstone Harriers) 3:50:26.
Half marathon: 1st Wes Mechen (Hailsham Harriers) 1:25.12, 2nd Otto Haas (Bexhill) 1:26.37, 3rd Simon Highsted (Buxted) 1:28.36, 4th Jenna French (Hastings Runners) 1:39.17, 5th Dave Wood 1:40.32, 6th Richard Hurst 1:43.16, 7th David Crane 1:43.43, 8th Patrick Mammone 1:43.43, 9th Lee Dunstall 1:43.55, 10th Chloe Stothart (London) 1:44.37.
10.5k relay: 1st Hastings AC 1 2:35.00 (CR); 2nd Hastings AC 2 3:00.25, 3rd Alfie’s Striders Team 1 3:03.06, 4th Bodyblast Fitness 3:05.20, 5th Rebelrunners2 Medway2 3:05.45.
The event was held to raise money for the children’s charity Tree of Hope, which was founded in Bexhill. It attracted one entrant, Elsa Lam, from Hong Kong and Alex Mandryko from New Zealand.
Race regulations state that runners have to complete the course within six hours. A lady marathon runner from Hertfordshire, Aly Anderson (race number 2), was struggling but was determined to finish.
The Starfish team all waited at the finish line long after the six-hour time limit and after the other runners had gone home. Mike Stokes, from Bexhill Runners & Triathletes, joined her for the last 5k and when she finally came into sight, Aly’s husband joined the team to applaud her in with a time of 6:32:05.
She later posted: “Thank you so much to everyone involved in the fantastic Bexhill Marathon 2017! The support you all gave me during that last, painful lap was truly amazing. I will never forget that experience. Highly recommended, despite the wind!”
The race co-ordinator would like to thank all the volunteer marshals who again gave up their day to help and their support was recognised by the runners’ feedback, helping the event maintain its reputation for friendliness.
An event spokesman said: “We would like to thank all who supported or sponsored the event, especially BRT, Rider HQ, Lee Holdaway, Bexhill Rowing Club, Bexhill Angling Club, Andrews Estate Agents and the De La Warr Pavilion.
“We had great support from all the local businesses who hopefully benefit from the influx of runners to the town. Many stay over the night before and comment on how nice Bexhill is and that they’ll return.”
Cllr Doug Oliver added: “Being invited as a volunteer marshal for the Starfish event enabled me to see this now established event was superbly organised - tremendous enjoyment for a most exciting worthy cause.”
See Friday’s Bexhill Observer for more pictures.
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