Hastings Half Marathon turns 40 in style – here’s who won, how local clubs fare and what everyone thought of it

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The Hastings Half Marathon celebrated a milestone year with a fabulous race.

Last Sunday brought the 40th running of the popular race – and right on cue the sun came out to greet runners and spectators, who enjoyed a race day to remember.

Organisers said it was one of the most highly anticipated Hastings Half Marathons of recent years as the 2,600 finishers made the most of dry but windy conditions.

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Ethiopian ace Seyfu Jamaal, who runs for London Heathside, and Hastings AC’s Grace Baker both took their maiden Hastings Half Marathon victories in very speedy times – 1:06:48 for Jamaal and 1:21:13 for Baker.

They're off! The Hastings Half Marathon 2024 begins | Staff pictureThey're off! The Hastings Half Marathon 2024 begins | Staff picture
They're off! The Hastings Half Marathon 2024 begins | Staff picture

Don’t miss this week’s (March 29) Hastings Observer for coverage across six different pages of the HHM – reports, reaction and of course lots of pictures. On sale now!

Jamaal, 24, finished 43 seconds ahead of Hy Runners ace Ross Skelton – with many spectators having been unable to split the two before the race.

Baker was pleased with her convincing victory, finishing six minutes and 39 seconds of HY’s Jenna French, who crossed in 1:27:52.

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Rachael Wood of organisers Nice Work, who was race director, said: “It was great to see a huge turnout from the community, both runners and spectators.

Seyfu Jamaal wins the HHM | Staff pictureSeyfu Jamaal wins the HHM | Staff picture
Seyfu Jamaal wins the HHM | Staff picture

"The Hastings Half Marathon is an iconic race in the south east and we want to make future years even bigger.

"Congratulations to everyone who crossed the finish line. It is a tough course regardless of conditions, but the wind made it a real challenge on Sunday morning.

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Hastings AC's Grace Baker closes in on the women's win | Staff pictureHastings AC's Grace Baker closes in on the women's win | Staff picture
Hastings AC's Grace Baker closes in on the women's win | Staff picture

"Well done to Grace and Seyfu, they were a joy to watch. We hope to see everyone back again in 2025.”

No course records were broken but they will surely be under threat when the 2025 race takes place on Sunday, March 23.

Remarkably, more than 300 runners have already booked their place a whole year in advance.

Also a big success on the day was the mini run for juniors, which had a pleasing 281 runners.

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Heart & Sole runners turned out for the HHM in good numbers | ContributedHeart & Sole runners turned out for the HHM in good numbers | Contributed
Heart & Sole runners turned out for the HHM in good numbers | Contributed

The vests of local clubs Hastings AC, HY Runners and Hastings Runners were prominent – read on for those clubs’ reports on their athletes who took part in the race…

HASTINGS AC

The Hastings Half Marathon proved a fantastic day for Hastings Athletics Club – not just for the great turnout of athletes and spectators, not just for effort and atmosphere, but for results.

In the mini run Tom Chaffin won with a whopping 16-second lead – impressive stuff considering he started training with the club less than a year ago.

The Buckley brothers came through next and best friends Rosie Fergeson and Isla Horsman came through hand in hand.

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Hastings Runners' Yolanda King was third woman home | Contributed pictureHastings Runners' Yolanda King was third woman home | Contributed picture
Hastings Runners' Yolanda King was third woman home | Contributed picture

Every performance was gutsy and strong, showing great team spirit and camaraderie .

There was an exciting build-up anticipating which of two local runners might win the women's race – but Grace Baker put in a fantastic performance finishing in 1:21, near on seven minutes ahead of her cloeset rival.

Baker said: “I am over the moon to have won the Half Marathon and it means so much to be able to represent the club while doing so.

"Despite the result it felt like a tough race, the wind and the heat were challenging and I felt it in my legs, but the crowd got me along and it's put me in the right frame of mind for London Marathon next month.

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"The endurance group have been working so hard this winter under the watchful eye of Rhys Boorman and Peter Baker and it's paid off for me and the team with a set of brilliant results.”

Rhys Boorman also has a great race. He agreed with Baker that conditions were tough: "Hills, hills and more hills as always, then the heat of the sun along The Ridge and that wind in your face for the last 3km, was rough.

"But it's always a special race running your local half marathon.”

Boorman achieved a PB - 1:11:53 - for sixth place. He'd gone into the race hoping to maybe dip under 72 minutes, especially after six weeks off training and a continual niggle, and was ecstatic to do it.

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Micheal Maxwell was second HAC runner through, Jeff Pyrah was next in 18th place and first M50.

Lewis Betts ran his first Hastings HM having only turned 17 a couple of days before it. A regular Hastings parkrunner, this was a new distance for him and despite blisters and fatigue he ran a fantastic race coming in as fourth junior male in 1:41.

Phoebe Barham was an HHM novice too at 17 and although it was a challenge it was an enjoyable experience all the same.

Congratulations to everyone who took part.

HAC results known: 12th Michael Maxwell 1.17.42; 18th (1st M50) Jeff Pyrah 1.20.10 (1.20.08); 22nd (1st F) Grace Baker 1.21.13; 85th Tim Archer 1.28.29 (1.28.28); ?115th Chris Brandt 1.30.54 (1.30.52)?; 121st Ross Horsman 1.31.39 (1.31.37); 317th (4th JM) Lewis Betts 1.41.37 (1.41.13); 333rd Jenna Levett 1.42.04 (1.41.57); 369th Nickolaj Kennett 1.43.28 (1.43.20); 618th Perry Stock 1.50.24 (1.48.41); 890th Chloe Le Fay 1.57.04 (1.55.23); 925th Rosy Clements 1.57.57 (1.57.43); 1273rd Gareth Purves 2.06.04 (2.03.48); 1688th Jo Saxby 2.17.38 (2.15.56); 1696th (4th JF) Phoebe Barham 2.17.52 (2.17.39).

HY RUNNERS

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Ross Skelton made his Hastings Half debut at the 40th anniversary of the event on Sunday, finishing second in 1:07:31.

HY’s Jenna French was the second woman home in 1:27:50. They and Ivy Buckland (1:32:34) were the winning ladies’ team.

HY also scooped the top men’s prize with Skelton, David Ervine in 1:15:43 (9th) and William Carey 1:15:59 (10th).

Other results included: Ben McCallion 1:19:21; Kieran Brooks 1:21:06; Barry Buchanan 1:21:08; Benji Symes 1:25:45; David Mayes 1:25:53; Stuart Piper 1:26:03; Jonathan Hatch 1:26:27; Sonny McKenzie 1:27:08; Dan Isted 1:27:12; Dylan Bolton 1:27:13; Sam Brown 1:28:52; John Badrock 1:30:34; David Holland 1:32:37; Jake Coleman 1:32:59; Ollie Lockwood 1:33:42; Rachel Wigmore 1:34:27; Nicky Stiles 1:34:41; Adam Coleman 1:34:51; Scott Richford 1:36:02; Shane Ryan 1:37:45; Toby Stace 1:38:29; Todd Fitz-Hugh 1:38:44; Michael Ocallaghan 1:39:16; Tom Brampton 1:41:10; Jimmy Sladden 1:41:26; Tom Banks 1:42:40; Joshua Gilbey 1:42:52; Danny Cornford 1:44:45; Ben Jones 1:45:50; Leon Morton 1:46:11; Emma Welch 1:47:34; Deborah Read 1:48:11; Becky Mabon 1:48:24; Richard Benn 1:48:42; Matthew Harmer 1:49:19; William Darby 1:50:07; Paige Wise 1:50:02; Nicola Kearns 1:50:10; Maria Mitchell 1:50:52; Paul Bennett 1:51:00; Andrew Giles 1:51:19; Paul Jenner 1:51:21; Chris Wigmore 1:52:16; David Clarke 1:52:55; Sharon Mayhew 1:52:56; Dan Gorham 1:53:06; Sarah Francis 1:53:19; Alfie Johnstone 1:53:49; Melanie Irwin 1:55:24; Quintin Askes 1:55:25; Susannah Gates 1:56:10; Dean Skelton 1:57:43; Lee Usherwood 1:57:30; Tina Wren 1:58:43; Laura Mitchell 1:58:46; Annette Felstead 1:58:47; Stewart Ide 1:59:21; Rebecca Wilson 2:00; Gary Bennett 2:00:16; Leanne Gammon 2:01:43; Fiona Patten 2:01:43; Susan Dunn 2:02:53; Michelle Hart 2:03:32; Leanne Badrock 2:05:01; Lisa Buchanan 2:05:01; Claire Martin 2:05:04; John Waterhouse 2:08:47; Faye Flaherty Martin 2:10:13; Wayne Prince 2:12:01; Louise Castleman 2:12:06; Chris Castleman 2:12:06; Jackie Barker 2:12:20; Stephen Cornford 2:13:27; Joanne Smith 2:15:01; Denise Clarke 2:15:13; Emma Jones 2:17:16; Mark Tewkesbury 2:18:26; Jenna Harmer 2:24:17; Jim Ballard 2:26:56; Jacqueline Patton 2:30:04; Donna Foster 2:43:03; Hayley Foster 2:43:03; Laura Dearsley 2:43:05; Kim Phillips 2:43:49; Allan Homewood 2:43:50.

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In the mile kids’ race Zion Okojie was second in 7:13. Antalia Cole was first girl in 7:51, Amelia Skelton second in 7:54 and Tera Buckland third in 8:00.

Other results included: Spencer Bushell 7:31; Henry Sully 7:35; Noah Mayhew 7:36; Frankie Badrock 7:37; Jenson Adams 7:43; Aiden Larkin 7:53; Francesca Tarrant 8:09; Olivia Collins 8:15; Benjamin Sims 8:26; Thomas Mills-Pjetri 8:29; Ivy Buchanan 8:29; Toby Bennett 8:36; Oscar Giles 8:36; Sophie Smith 8:37; Daisy Welch 8:40; Marcus Collins 8:42; Sophia Tarrant 8:53; Elsa McSweeney 8:54; Joshua Bennett 09:02; Phoebe Sims 09:07; Harry Barham 09:08; Ellen Gates 09:11; Theo Morton 09:12; Evelyn Cornford 09:15; Matilda Skelton 9:20; Miley Wigmore 09:26; Alyssa Cornford 09:39; Cody Mansell 09:43; Spencer Adams 09:55; Demi Morton 09:59; Layla Harmer 10:09; Leo Mayes 10:10; Lily Peachment 10:26; Hallie Gorham 10:27; Isla Hopkins-Parry 10:32; George Giles 10:37; Adam Smith 10:41; Dexter Catt 11:06; Jessica Harmer 11:26; Blake Phillips 11:29; Willow Lee 11:33; Rory Martin 11:35; Leo Martin 11:38; Darcy Cornford 11:41; Isabelle Hart 11:58; Sophie Sims 12:14; Oliver Gorham 12:19; Archie West 12:37; Elsie Harmer 14:04; Theodore Kearns 14:13.

HASTINGS RUNNERS

The fastest man home in a Hastings Runners vest was senior male Ashley Vora, placed 24th in a time of one hour 21 minutes and 44 seconds. Yolanda King was HR’s first woman (and an excellent fourth overall in the female half of the field) in 1:28:34.

Perhaps even more impressive, though, was Nick Attwood’s time of 2:09:36 – seven minutes inside the Guinness World Record for a Half Marathon completed in chainmail. His costume including coif, gauntlets and shield meant he was carrying almost 20kg in extra weight…

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But for a club that has that is proud to number almost two-thirds of its membership in the over-50 brackets, its entrants were generally not expected to be among the front runners. Instead, the real stars of its Half Marathon field were the often-unsung heroes further back.

These included countless first-timers, pacemakers and Simon Johnstone and Simon Linklater, those not long out of hospital such at Chris White, Martin Snape pushing a two-child buggy, and a team of five who opted to run in fancy dress dressed as dinosaurs and rangers re-enacting scenes from Jurassic Park.

It was heart-warming to see HR members fast and slow, running in green-and-black pairs and groups throughout the field and supporting each other. Placed way back in the 2,500s we salute Danny Ratnarajah, Adrian Barratt, Robert Dennis, Natasha Slow and Steve Uzzell – chased by the club’s pom-pom queen Catherine Southgate – who crossed the line almost together in just under three and a half hours, running the route fitter and happier exactly as the club aims to promote.

Hastings Runners is also proud to have two of the eight runners who in this 40th anniversary year have run in every single Half Marathon – and therefore own more finisher’s brasses than most stables have horseshoes.

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The oldest of these, Sylvia Huggett (FV70) crossed the line under the gaze of the BBC SE cameras alongside members of her family knowing she had helped raise thousands of pounds for a local hospice. We also salute MV 60 Darren Barzee who, because he “just fancied doing something different”, added well over half an hour to his likely time by dressing head to toe in red fur as Elmo from Sesame Street, a costume which not only made him overheat but also frequently needed a paw in mouth just to stop his head bouncing.

Finally, a mention to veteran coach Terry Kitson who, after spending many Sundays leading runners all over town in preparation for last weekend, had to withdraw at the last minute due to health issues. We wish Terry, and his wife Irene – who completed the Half as they had planned to do together, alongside Davinia Hill – all the best.

HEART & SOLE

Hastings-based running group, Heart and Sole Runners, took on the Hastings Half Marathon as part of their training for Brighton Marathon on Sunday 7th April.

They knew that the Half Marathon would be the perfect opportunity to implement their race day preparations in the lead up to their full marathon in Brighton.

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They’ve worked tirelessly putting in the mile’s week in, week out to be able to give it their absolute best on the day. Well done to everyone involved.

Please see the Heart and Sole runners Facebook page for more information about fundraising and how you can support their mission to sustain a 12 week men’s Active Hastings Weight Management project in memory of Josh Alexander, a local PT and beloved son of one of the Heart and Sole runners.

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