Great Britain international Adam Clarke was the winner of the 2018 Hastings Half Marathon on a bitterly cold Sunday morning.
Clarke, who entered on the day and was wearing his Hastings Athletic Club vest, completed his first half marathon in one hour, eight minutes and 35 seconds.
Charlie Joslin-Allen, of Tonbridge Athletic Club, was just 17 seconds behind in second place after producing a superb run in his first half marathon.
Hastings AC’s Gary Foster completed the top three in 1:10.59 after coming out on top in a sprint for the line with Max Dumbrell (Brighton Phoenix), who was fourth in 1:11.02.
Another Hastings AC talent, Rhys Boorman, produced a good run to finish sixth in 1:13.37 - a time which was well over a minute quicker than he clocked when finishing second in very windy conditions last year - despite not enjoying the cold.
Matt Edmonds, of Hastings Runners, again made the top 10 in 1:16.30 - a time more than three minutes quicker than he clocked when coming eighth last year.
Maria Heslop delivered an outstanding run to finish first lady - and 23rd overall - in 1:21:29, despite being in the 50-54 age category. The Tonbridge AC runner also comfortably beat all of the over-50 men with arguably the performance of the day.
Stacey Clusker, of Hastings AC, defied illness and asthma problems to finish second lady 1:23.38, with improving clubmate Rachael Grass third in 1:25.55. Laura Addie, of Hastings Runners, was fifth in 1:27.06.
The men’s race was far more competitive than many we’ve seen in recent years.
Clarke, Joslin-Allen, Foster and Dumbrell broke away from the rest of the field within the opening mile, and remained together into the sixth mile at the top of the long uphill Queensway stretch.
Clarke then made his move heading on to The Ridge and although Joslin-Allen tried to go with him, Foster and Dumbrell were soon dropped.
Clarke gradually eked out a decisive lead over the next few miles, but Joslin-Allen valiantly kept him in sight and was rewarded with a very good sub 69 minutes time.
Clarke grew up in the locality and ran for Hastings AC in his youth. He then moved to London for university and later work, and has developed into a high class athlete, albeit over much shorter distances than the half marathon.
An overseas training partner of the great Sir Mo Farah, Clarke - whose first claim club is Aldershot, Farnham & District AC - earned his first Great Britain vest at the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Cross Country International during January.
Since then he has generally competed over 3,000m in events such as the British Athletics Championships and the IFAM Indoor in Ghent. This was therefore a big step up in distance, but he stayed the course commendably well.
Joslin-Allen also ran for Hastings AC for a time during his youth. These days he is at university in Cardiff and he too generally focuses on the middle distances, running the 1,500m at the BUCS Championships in Sheffield last month.
The student has also been active on the cross-country scene, finishing 37th in the ECCA Saucony English National Championships at Parliament Hill four weeks ago and 24th in the CAU Inter County Championships at Loughborough last weekend.
Although in the end he finished well behind the top two, Foster achieved his highest ever Hastings Half Marathon placing and his time was more than five minutes quicker than his previous best on that course.
He also turned the tables on Dumbrell, who finished a place above him at The Big Half Marathon in London two weeks ago.
In all the 34th staging of the Hastings Half Marathon, organised by The Lions Club of Hastings, attracted more than 3,000 entries and there were 2.469 finishers. Many of the runners were raising money for charity and some donned fancy dress.
Conditions were dry but extremely cold, although the easterly wind was behind runners over the final two-and-a-half miles or so along the seafront.
As ever, spectators came out in huge numbers to cheer on the runners in what for many years now has been one of the country’s leading half marathons.
Provisional results (gun times) - top 10 men: 1 Adam Clarke (Hastings AC) 1:08.35, 2 Charlie Joslin-Allen (Tonbridge Athletics Club) 1:08.52, 3 Gary Foster (Hastings AC) 1:10.59, 4 Max Dumbrell (Brighton Phoenix) 1:11.02, 5 Robert Latala (Ashford & District RRC) 1:13.13, 6 Rhys Boorman (Bexhill College) 1:13.37, 7 Richard Dowling 1:15.42, 8 Todd Leckie (Team Bodyworks XTC) 1:16.01, 9 Dominic James 1:16.05, 10 Matt Edmonds (Hastings Runners) 1:16.30.
Top 5 women: 1 Maria Heslop (Tonbridge Athletics Club) 1:29.29, 2 Stacey Clusker (Hastings AC) 1:23.38, 3 Rachael Grass (Hastings AC) 1:25.55, 4 Sue Fry (Hailsham Harriers) 1:26.17, 5 Laura Addie (Hastings Runners) 1:27.06.
Benefit from an ongoing discount on your Observer by joining our voucher membership scheme. Once you’ve subscribed, we’ll send you dated vouchers which can be exchanged for your paper at any news outlet. To save money on your Observer, simply click here (www.localsubsplus.co.uk)