Christmas Pudding Dash: Large field contests popular festive race

A large field of runners battled through heavy conditions in the 13th Christmas Pudding Dash on a sunny Saturday morning.

Runners set off at the start of the 13th Christmas Pudding Dash. Pictures by Simon Newstead
Runners set off at the start of the 13th Christmas Pudding Dash. Pictures by Simon Newstead

Some 356 people finished the approximately five-mile multi-terrain race over the undulating fields and trails surrounding the village of Pett.

Many of them got in the Christmas spirit by donning festive attire for an event which took place over a course which was very wet and muddy in many places following all the recent rain.

See also: * Christmas Pudding Dash: 400 runners expected for festive race* Long-standing Hastings clubs face uncertain future* Hastings United boss proud of players after win over VCD AthleticAnd there was plenty of talent at the top end of the field as Hastings Athletic Club members filled the top four overall places, with the first two men followed immediately by the leading two ladies.

Runners faced tough conditions in the popular annual festive race

George Pool, who back in August clocked what at the time was the country’s fastest 10k time by an under-17 athlete this year, was the clear winner in 26 minutes and 14 seconds. Another under-17 talent, Isaac Elam, was second in 27:40.

Grace Baker, running a stone’s throw from her family home while back for Christmas from her studies in the United States, was the first lady in 29:20 - 15 seconds ahead of runner-up Lizzie Clarke.

Baker won a silver medal at the 2015 Spar European Cross-Country Championships with the Great Britain junior women’s squad, while Clarke clocked the fastest 10k time in the country by an under-20 female this year at the bbb10k in Battle during September.

Matt Edmonds was the third man and fifth overall in 31:27, while under-15 athlete Shannon Hopkins-Parry - another of Hastings AC’s accomplished crop of young runners - produced a fine run to finish third lady and 10th overall in 32:34.

Many of the competitors donned seasonal dress

Hastings AC representatives filled six of the top 10 places and 16 of the top 30, while four Paul McCleery training group runners made the top 20.

The event was suitable for experienced runners and beginners alike, and as such attracted runners of all ages and abilities.

Finishers received a special commemorative festive medal and a glass of warming mulled wine, plus Christmas puddings and other festive goodies.

Leading finishers (gun times): 1st George Pool (Hastings AC) 26:14, 2nd Isaac Elam (Hastings AC) 27:40, 3rd Grace Baker (Hastings AC) 29:20, 4th Lizzie Clarke (Hastings AC) 29:35, 5th Matt Edmonds 31:27, 6th Paul Bennett (Paul McCleery training group) 31:31, 7th Marcus Holloway 31:36, 8th Andrew Edmonds (Hastings AC) 31:58, 9th Paul McCleery (Paul McCleery training group) 32:27, 10th Shannon Hopkins-Parry (Hastings AC) 32:34, 11th Matt Botten 33:22, 12th Mark Thomas (Paul McCleery training group) 33:25, 13th John Ralph (Hastings AC) 33:27, 14th Matt Gilbert 33:36, 15th Brendan Jones 33:44, 16th Chris Brandt (Hastings AC) 33:47, 17th Daniel Pearson 34:02, 18th Fleur Peoples 34:32, 19th Anthony Bahadur (Paul McCleery training group) 34:42, 20th Amalie Primdal (Crawley AC) 34:45, 21st Riz Maslen (Hastings AC) 34:49, 22nd Ross Garnett (Hastings AC) 35:04, 23rd Jenna French (Hastings AC) 35:10, 24th Philip Carrington 35:17, 25th Martin Watts (Hastings AC) 35:26, 26th Becky Smart (Hastings AC) 35:38, 27th Lorna Watts (Hastings AC) 36:00, 28th Dave Turner (Hastings AC) 36:08, 29th Sophie McGoldrick (Hastings AC) 36:41, 30th Nancy Barlow 37:01.

Plenty of festive spirit was on show in Pett yesterday morning

Organised by professional events management company Nice Work, the event also featured a children’s race and a two-mile fun run.

Some more of the festively-dressed competitors