By Liam Lawrence
Eastbourne’s half-marathon was held on Sunday with 1,582 participants competing in the race which is now in its ninth year. The half marathon attracts runners from all over the region.
It was a bitterly cold day made all the worse by the chilling winds blowing in off the sea and leaving runners shivering in their shorts and bibs. However they were soon warmed up during the gruelling hill climb towards Beachy Head Road where the friendly chatter and words of encouragement from fellow participants were replaced only by the sound of people gasping for air during the steep climb. Those who powered through were soon rewarded as, much like roller coasters at the fair, this half-marathon boasted a drop after the climb. The much appreciated change of pace allowed runners to coast it down to Hollywell in high spirits with the crowd cheering them on and the bands playing the theme tunes for the day.
Eastbourne Herald writer Dave King was one of the pacers on Sunday, tasked with finishing the race in a set amount of time to allow people to follow them and aim for their own personal goals, be it an hour and a half or two. This is the first time pacers have been used in the marathon and he had only praise for the race:
“It was the camaraderie among the runners which made the race – everyone pulling together, strangers encouraging each other. There are, of course, countless individual stories. There were the two blind runners further back courageously tackling the course with the help of guides, and those who were on their feet for over three hours, but who still had the gumption to finish. And it is truly the finishing that matters. This was a day of success – 1,582 individual successes and it was an absolute pleasure to be there.”
Each year the marathon raises tens of thousands of pounds for charity with a wide variety of organisations including Diabetes UK, Cancer Research, Leukaemia Busters and CLIC Sargent benefitting from the race. There were also some people running for their own personal charities they had set up in memory of loved ones. Runner Emma Savory was running for the charity her family had set up, Para Monte, in memory of her brother who died of altitude sickness in September last year. Her father said:
“We hope by setting up the charity we can help warn people of the dangers of altitude sickness and help prevent any further unnecessary loss of life. We particularly want to make people who have a gap year and may be going off travelling to be aware of the dangers.”
The Eastbourne Half Marathon was won by Herne Hill Harriers Mark Dooley with a time of 1:18.22 and Emily Proto from Brighton-based Arena 80 won the women’s race in 1:28.06 for 36th place overall.