Athletics: Striders turn out in force for town’s ever popular half marathon event

Impressive Junior Harry Strong and runner-up Simon Fletcher Picture by Danny Simpson
Impressive Junior Harry Strong and runner-up Simon Fletcher Picture by Danny Simpson

The ever popular NPS Lions Seaford half marathon took place on Sunday with 14 Seaford Striders running on home territory.

Always well organised, the monies raised are used for charitable purposes.

The race attracts rave reviews for its wonderful scenery, varied terrain, plentiful water stations and enthusiastic marshals, whilst maintaining a gloriously understated feel. Starting on the seafront the route heads inland taking in Bishopstone village and is then almost exclusively off-road. A few stiles initially caused a bottleneck, but the runners soon started to get strung out as they tackled the five-mile climb to Bo Peep on the South Downs Way.

The ascent was made all the tougher thanks to the strong north-easterly wind.

The views are spectacular on this part of the course and the route is shared with just the odd rambler and mountain biker before a welcome descent into Alfriston. Next is a stretch on a somewhat rutted path along the Cuckmere valley to Exceat before one final climb to South Hill Barn. The end is then literally in sight as the ankle-twisting descent of Seaford Head is tackled, after which those having anything left in their legs had the opportunity for a sprint in the final mile along the seafront to the finish.

In a field of close on 500 runners, Strider Simon Fletcher put his new trainers to good use finishing second in 1hour 30mins 48secs, just behind winner Daniel Vaughan (1.29.58). Colin Hannant again showed his class with 1.40.50 in 28th position.

There was a remarkable performance by Junior Strider Harry Strong, showing what an emerging talent he is by finishing 46th in 1.42.08.

Then came the ever consistent duo of Adrian Campbell 1.43.09 (fresh from recording 3.27.19 at the Edinburgh marathon) and Michael Martin 1.45.31. Alex Franklin is improving with every race and his 1.50.45 was a personal best finishing just outside the top 100. Not to be outdone, Ali Batchelor 2.00.06 was yet another PB and will have no trouble finding those elusive seven seconds next time out. Natasha Swan 2.01.59 and Richard Honeyman 2.02.05 put in solid performances while Bob Ward 2.02.00 continues to impress. Rachel Davis 2.26.08, Claire Jenkins 2.33.39 and Trevor Jones 2.34.24 gave it their all and finally Poppy the golden retriever led owner Alan Lade home in 2.59.01.

Held just four days before on a balmy evening the well supported two-lap Worthing 10k is altogether different.

The course along the seafront is fast and flat on wide roads and highlights just how effective the speed training sessions have been.

Winner was Kevin Rojas of Brighton & Hove AC in a blistering 32.05. Phil Carr was 21st in 37.40, Dave Dunstall, back from injury, 40th 38.57, Cliff Evans 40.07 and Phil Robinson 41.42, highlighted just what high standards they regularly set, recording times under seven minutes per mile.

Ali Batchelor set a 47.21 PB and Alan Hards 47.36, Sue Garner 49.50, Terry Ward 52.04 and Chris Le Beau 52.37 can all be pleased with their efforts on a very warm evening. Another Sussex Grand Prix race held recently was the undulating (a polite word for extremely hilly!) Rye 10 miler.

First Strider home in 24th place out of over 200 was Mark Cage in 1:09:02 with the prolific Colin Hannant close behind in 1:09:35.

Phil Robinson 1:13:32, Natasha Swan 1:18:06 and Ali Batchelor 1:24:23 all recorded creditable times.

Finally Zoe King was the Striders representative at the Bedgebury Trailblazer 10k near Tunbridge Wells. 1.01.16 was a respectable time in hot conditions on hilly course through the Pine forest.

Pictured: Impressive Junior Harry Strong and runner-up Simon Fletcher. Picture by Danny Simpson.