Adam Clarke said he had fulfilled a long-standing promise to his grandparents after winning the 2018 Hastings Half Marathon on Sunday.
Clarke, who entered on the day and was wearing his Hastings Athletic Club vest, was victorious in his very first half marathon in a time of one hour, eight minutes and 35 seconds.
He said: “My nan and grandad are my biggest fans. I used to watch the half marathon with them on The Ridge when I was younger and I always said one day I’ll win it so I had to fulfil that promise. It was one of the things I wanted to tick off the list.
“I won the Mini Run (a children’s race along the seafront which takes place during the main event) years ago so it was good to get the double.
“I was pretty happy. The crowds were great, everyone’s out there cheering you on and I saw quite a few old faces while I was running round.”
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.
“I spoke to my coach (Geoff Watkin) back in January and said if it fits in with the plan, could I do it (the Hastings Half),?” Clarke continued. “I don’t train for the half marathon so it was a case of turn up and race, and hopefully be in good enough shape - and I am in good shape at the moment.
“I run 90 miles a week in training and once every week or 10 days I run 16 miles just to build endurance so I knew I should be okay (with the distance).
“From five miles to the end every mile apart from one was under a five-minute mile and I couldn’t have gone a lot harder the last couple of miles; I was digging deep.
“I was confident I was going to win, I just needed the right race plan in order for it to work. I had visions of running down that finishing straight waving my hands, but the finish line couldn’t come quickly enough to be honest.”
The 26-year-old’s appearance in Hastings might never have happened. On the same day he should’ve been flying out to Australia with the England team for the Commonwealth Games.
Clarke twice achieved the A standard qualifying time for the 1,500m last summer and was ranked third in England, but because of the costs associated with a Games so far from home, England took a smaller team than usual and Clarke was among the athletes to miss out.
Next week Clarke will head off to France for five weeks of altitude training in preparation for the summer outdoor season.
He is setting his sights on competing at the European Championships in August and believes the sub 13:30 qualifying time is certainly feasible in his current shape.
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