Hastings Half Marathon runner-up hampered by stitch

Gary Foster comes home to finish second in the Hastings Half Marathon yesterday morning. Picture by Justin Lycett
Gary Foster comes home to finish second in the Hastings Half Marathon yesterday morning. Picture by Justin Lycett

Gary Foster revealed he was hampered by a stitch after narrowly missing out on winning the Hastings Half Marathon.

The Hastings Athletic Club talent finished runner-up in yesterday’s race - just 21 seconds behind winner Josseli Polini - having led for the first eight miles.

Foster said: “I felt good until about 11 miles in, but I got a bit stitchy in the stomach about the BP garage (on The Ridge in the seventh mile).

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“Going down the hill (in the 10th mile), I still thought I could win. I thought stick with him (Polini) and outkick him. I didn’t notice he was on my shoulder until the Rye Road turn (in the ninth mile). I don’t like frontrunning at all.”

Foster’s time of one hour, 11 minutes and 17 seconds was 18 seconds slower than he clocked when finishing third last year.

Two weeks previously, the 29-year-old clocked a PB of 1:09.28 at the Vitality Big Half on a fairly flat London course but in extremely windy conditions.

“I’m disappointed with the time,” continued Foster. “Whether London was still in my legs, I don’t know. I’m still training for (the) London (Marathon) in a couple of weeks and I haven’t really tapered that much this week, I’ve still done up to 80 miles this week.”

Although slightly slower than last year, Foster has made huge progress in recent years and is a shining example of what hard work can achieve. To illustrate the point, he finished 193rd in the 2014 Hastings Half Marathon in 1:31.38.

“It just shows if you listen to the people who have done it for years, you can make massive steps,” continued Foster, who works at Wisdens Sports Ltd in Hastings.

“I have worked really hard. I get up at 5.30am every morning for the first run and go for a second run in the afternoon.

“I do get cranky and tired sometimes, but I don’t really get stiffness. This year I’ve got into stretching.”

Foster, who proposed to girlfriend Stacey Clusker in the finish area immediately after last year’s Hastings Half Marathon, received fantastic support around the course as the huge crowds cheered him on.

“That’s why I kind of do the race,” he added. “I probably shouldn’t have done the race (so soon after the Vitality Big Half and with the London Marathon on the horizon), but it’s my home town and everyone knows me around the course, particularly in Hollington.”

Hastings Half Marathon provisional results (gun times) - top 10 men: 1 Josseli Polini (Victoria Park Harriers) 1:10.56, 2 Gary Foster (Hastings AC) 1:11.17, 3 Rhys Boorman (Hastings AC) 1:13.45, 4 Jeff Pyrah (Hastings AC) 1:14.43, 5 Robert Latala (Ashford & District RRC) 1:14.49, 6 Daniel Anderson (Hastings AC) 1:16.13, 7 Ian Blackham (Crawley Saints & Sinners Running Club) 1:16.41, 8 Max Thomas 1:17.58, 9 Chris Gilbert (Lewes AC) 1:19.00, 10 Patrick Davis (Highgate Harriers) 1:19.47.

Top 5 women: 1 Heather Noone 1:21.44, 2 Rachael Mulvey 1:22.15, 3 Megan Taylor (Lewes AC) 1:27.10, 4 Laura Temple 1:27.45, 5 Linda Schofield 1:27.59.