Eastbourne is no stranger to athletics, with the Beachy Head Marathon – one of the UK’s most revered events – occurring in the Autumn. For those who seek a shorter distance, the Eastbourne Rovers athletic club cater for such needs with track events, but until recently, middle ground was hard to come by. The happy medium of a half-marathon finally came about in 2004, and today saw the 10-year anniversary of the event.
Starting in the verdant serenity of Princes Park, the race covers 21 kilometers. That’s 13.1 miles in old money. The course then blasts along the seafront, all the way to the iconic cliffs of Beachy Head. There, the runners (and indeed walkers) complete a loop, make their way back along the seafront, meander through Sovereign Harbour, and finally reach the start/finish line in Princes Park once more. There, finishers are greeted with warm enthusiasm from spectators, water, bananas and chocolate.
The event is organised by Rupert Ashford. His son and right-hand man for the event, Jamie Ashford, had this to say:
“We’ve had really good attendance this year, over 1800 entries and more than 1400 of those started the race. It’s a big occasion this year because it’s not only the 10-year anniversary, but also the 10th event.” This was due to missing a year in 2005.
NO LANE NO GAIN
The University of Brighton’s Warwick ‘Rick’ Lane was one of the competitors of the race, alongside flatmates Kane Reed and Emily Hutchinson. Lane, 20, suffered a knee injury during training for the half-marathon. Rather than abandon the cause, he donned a support bandage, and with the incentive of water stations every three miles, ran the course in just under two-and-a-half hours, clocking 2:24:54 on the time sheets.
“During training, I felt a sort of tweak in my knee, and I really thought I couldn’t walk. It left me about a mile from my flat just hobbling, being overtaken by local pensioners.” he commented on his setback.
I had to break up the race, I just thought if I could get to the next water stop I’d be alright. I was very grateful to receive the chocolate after the race!”
CREAM OF THE CROP
The fastest time of the event went to Stephen Wrapson of the Horsham Amphibians, crossing the line in 1:19:14. The fastest time for ladies went to Yvette Grice of the Bodyworks XTC Group, rounding the course in 1:26.03.
Images courtesy of Andy Element and Alice Matthews