THE sun shone for the 18th Halstead and Essex Marathon, the showpiece event of the year for organisers Halstead Road Runners (HRR).
Once again the event was expertly managed by race director and HRR chairman Keith Thorogood with supporters descending from all over the country and overseas.
The event also raises funds for the community, and last year more than £8,000 was donated to local schools and charities.
The race got under way from Halstead Leisure Centre at 10am with more than 630 runners ready to sample the rolling Essex countryside. The lanes of Halstead, Colne Engaine, Pebmarsh and Twinstead awaited, filled with support and cheer.
The race was won by local runner Allen Smalls of Colchester Harriers. Smalls crossed the line with a broad smile, more than 14 minutes ahead of the next runner in a time of two hours 35 minutes 39 seconds.
Another local man finished in second place, Lee Martin of Springfield Striders, who stopped the clock at 2:49:39 to help the Striders win the team trophy. Third place overall went to Richard Watkinson in 2:49:55.
More than 11 runners enjoyed the glory of a sub-three-hour marathon time including the first woman, June Allen of Springfield Striders, in a time of 2:59:27. Next home for the women was her team mate Nikki Brockbank in 3:10:25.
These two results, plus the performance of Donna Hall-Fremont, gave Springfield Striders further trophies for first women’s team. Third home for the women was Helen Mulhall from Bearbrook running club.
The host club entered a few athletes and were expertly led home by Halstead man Gavin Allen, who clocked in at 3:07:40, taking 24th place overall. Next in for HRR was Phil Davies in 3:30:08 and 85th place, a result that gave him an Essex County Championship medal as third in Vets 50 category.
There was also a bronze for Andy Wilmot in his age category.
Halstead mayor David Hume was on hand at the finishing line to give out medals and for the presentation ceremony. The organisers wished to thank the leisure centre and all their sponsors that received great feedback from the runners.
Full HRR results: 24 Gavin Allen 3:07:41; 85 Phil Davies 3:30:09; 183 Sam Wolton 3:48:34; 438 Andy Wilmot 4:32:16; 441 Matt Biggin 4:33:24; 446 Kate Allen 4:33:07; 508 Nathan Roulson 4:49:52; 555 Daniel Smith 5:06:10.
Three members of Sudbury Joggers also took part with Alan Anstead finishing first in the M50 category in a time of 2:59:55. Andy Buck completed the course in 3:22:13 and Jem Smith clocked in at 3:41:27.
n Halstead Road Runners has a junior section for eight-to-15-year-olds, and a senior section for 16-year-olds upwards, and is open to those who want to run for pleasure in friendly company and those that want to train with a specific goal in mind. For senior membership enquiries call club captain Wayne Kern 07801 722794 and for juniors (8-15 year olds) contact Peri Collins on 01787 223150.