Poppy Half Marathon event defies the elements

Runners set off in the Poppy Half Marathon from the lawns behind the De La Warr Pavilion. Picture by Simon Newstead

Runners set off in the Poppy Half Marathon from the lawns behind the De La Warr Pavilion. Picture by Simon Newstead

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The Poppy Half Marathon races once again defied the elements in Bexhill on Saturday.

Runners, organisers, spectators, marshals and helpers alike braved strong winds and near constant rain in the ninth running of an event which the weather gods invariably seem to frown on.

Race director Lee Holdaway said: "Thank you to all of you who made it to Bexhill and ran in what can only be described as testing conditions.

"Not as bad as last year" was the quote most used I think, but still pretty tough out there. There were some great times achieved and a lot of personal goals realised. All in all a wonderful atmosphere amongst you all."

Like last year, when the wind also blew hard, the popular annual seafront event featured races over three different distances one after the other.

A 5k race kicked things off at 10am, followed by the 10k at 11am and the half marathon at 12.30pm. All of them started and finished on the lawns outside the De La Warr Pavilion.

Runners battled wind and rain on Bexhill seafront on Saturday. Picture by Simon Newstead

Runners battled wind and rain on Bexhill seafront on Saturday. Picture by Simon Newstead

The 5k saw runners head west along West Parade to the far end of the lower promenade before returning to the start via a short climb up the path onto South Cliff.

Runners in the 10k completed two laps of the 5k course, while those in the half marathon tackled one lap of the 5k course after two laps of an 8k course which followed the same path as the 5k course but with an additional stretch east along De La Warr Parade on the end of it.

The southerly wind seemed even stronger for the start of the half marathon so the 502 finishers certainly earned their specially-designed commemorative medal.

Alan Silvester (Arena 80 AC) was the winner in 1:17.27, with Jim Ashworth-Beaumont (Serpentine) second in 1:18.04. Matthew Dowle (Bodyworks XTC) was a close third in 1:20.15, while Sue Fry (Hailsham Harriers) was the leading lady in 1:27.22.

Poppy Half Marathon winner Alan Silvester battles through the rain and wind. Picture by Simon Newstead

Poppy Half Marathon winner Alan Silvester battles through the rain and wind. Picture by Simon Newstead

The 10k produced 247 finishers, the first of whom was Gary Elliott in 35:50. Danny White (Lordshill Road Runners) was second in 36:01 and Ricky Coleman (Arena 80) third in 40:05. Liz Lumber (Hailsham Harriers) was the first woman in 42:44.

Josh Varney (Eastbourne Rovers AC) won the 5K in 17:26 - just eight seconds clear of runner-up Joshua Wallace (Neath Harriers). Bexhill Runners & Triathletes came third and fourth via Dan Marshman and Martyn Reynolds, and there were 77 finishers in all.

Leading finishers - Poppy Half Marathon: 1st Alan Silvester (Arena 80 AC) 1:17.27, 2nd Jim Ashworth-Beaumont (Serpentine) 1:18.04, 3rd Matthew Dowle (Bodyworks XTC) 1:20.15, 4th Daniel Quinn (Lingfield RC) 1:20.39, 5th Dan Vaughan (Arena 80 AC) 1:21.32, 6th Ben Adams (Haywards Heath Harriers) 1:21.54, 7th Paul Hunt (Clapham Chasers) 1:21.56, 8th Joshua Rudd (Seaford Striders) 1:22.01, 9th Ben Duncan (Haywards Heath Harriers) 1:22.43, 10th Lee Cooper (Larkfield AC) 1:22.45, 11th James Wright 1:23.17, 12th Michael Hobbs (Crawley AC) 1:24.51, 13th Philip Handrihan (Hastings AC) 1:25.32, 14th Ryan Stokes (Horsham Joggers) 1:26.22, 15th Simon Coppard (Portslade Hedgehoppers) 1:26.47, 16th David Kofoed 1:26.48, 17th Sue Fry (Hailsham Harriers) 1:27.22, 18th Marcus Holloway 1:27.27, 19th Kelvin Desmoyers-Davis (Tunbridge Wells Harriers) 1:27.28, 20th Tim Archer 1:29.53.

10K: 1st Gary Elliott 35:50, 2nd Danny White (Lordshill Road Runners) 36:01, 3rd Ricky Coleman (Arena 80) 40:05, 4th Richard Davis (Eastbourne Rovers AC) 40:43, 5th Alec Burks 40:46, 6th Matthew Quinton (Haywards Heath Harriers) 40:51, 7th Ian Burks (Reigate Priory) 41:18, 8th Shaun Eves 41:26, 9th Lee Kemp 41:56, 10th Kieran Price 42:02, 11th George Strong (7Oaks Athletics Club) 42:11, 12th Neil Davidson 42:19, 13th Erik Chapman (PH Fitness) 42:27, 14th Bruce Salter (Pieathletes) 42:33, 15th Liz Lumber (Hailsham Harriers) 42:44, 16th Bryan Tiller (Haywards Heath Harriers) 43:17, 17th Ian Weston (Polegate Plodders) 43:24, 18th Andrew Isaac (Westbourne RC) 44:02, 19th Benjamin Lucas 44:03, 20th David Head 44:13.

Runners in the half marathon make their way east along the seafront. Picture by Simon Newstead

Runners in the half marathon make their way east along the seafront. Picture by Simon Newstead

5K: 1st Josh Varney (Eastbourne Rovers AC) 17:26, 2nd Joshua Wallace (Neath Harriers) 17:34, 3rd Dan Marshman (BRT) 18:23, 4th Martyn Reynolds (BRT) 18:57, 5th Jack Chivers (Haywards Heath Harriers) 21:13, 6th Jordan Sims 22:30, 7th Chris Castleman 22:42, 8th Tina Macenhill (Hailsham Harriers) 23:10, 9th Richard Swatton (BSF) 24:43, 10th Frances Delves (Hailsham Harriers) 24:52.

The event was organised on behalf of the Raising Money for Good Causes charity, which has supported several organisations this year, including the Sidley Beavers, SERV Blood, The Royal British Legion, St Michael's Hospice, Sussex Search & Rescue and Kids for Action.

The organisers wish to thank the marshals from Sidley Beavers, Sussex Search & Rescue and many others who gave up their time to stand in the rain throughout the day, sponsors Yazoo who supplied free chocolate and strawberry milk drinks to the finishers and the crowd throughout the day, GMP Chartered Accountants whose staff manned the aid stations and made a considerable donation to the charity, James Sheppard for looking after the music, Hannah Bradbeer for her lovely signing of the national anthem, the team from the Starfish Races for giving out the medals, and the De La Warr Pavilion for the use of the whole building, and their staff and family.

2017 will be the event's 10th year and a huge event is planned for Saturday November 11 - Armistice Day. The previous winners of the Poppy Half Marathon will be invited back.

See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.

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