Three events were held over the Bank Holiday weekend with a quintessentially British feel, namely the Alfriston Fun Run, Newick 10K and the Kings Head Canter.
As part of the Alfriston festival there was a 1.6k for the juniors and ensuring the adults didn’t feel left out a 5.3K too. Starting at the village Tye and leaving behind serenading bagpipers in a late summer deluge, the route heads south along the by now muddy banks of the Cuckmere and back after crossing the Litlington bridge.
Ben Pepler of Lewes AC was first adult with 21mins 30secs. Junior Harry Strong showed most of the adults how it was done with 22.30, followed by Phil Robinson 23.12. Claire Keith 25.38 was the ladies trophy winner for the fifth year in a row and Jackie Webber 28.21 headed home husband Rob 29.08.
Ben Martin emphatically won the junior race with 5.32, a minute ahead of brothers Luke and Joe Rickards. Amy Fletcher finished strongly, enjoying the shorter distance after experiencing a number of 5K Parkruns and under the watchful eye of dad Simon, Striders current number one.
The 5K Kings Head Canter is a rarity being a point to point race which attracts up to 275 runners. Starting at Chiddingly and finishing in East Hoathly, the entry fee includes a free pint or soft drink to all finishers and raises funds for the RP Fighting Blindness charity. On the hottest day of the weekend Richard Burgess-Gamble of Arena 80 took the win with a cracking 16.14. Junior Harry Strong was first Strider in 19.27 closely followed by Mark Cage 19.48 and Colin Hannant 20.14. Claire Keith 22.46, Rob Webber 24.17, Jackie Webber 25.10, Annie Line 29.16, John Kingshott 31.04, Richard Kimber 33.03 should all be happy with their times and it was particularly pleasing to see Club Captain Martin Bulger 33.08 making a comeback after a lengthly lay-off through injury.
Wedged in between the two village events was the latest race in the Sussex Grand Prix, the Newick 10K.
Starting at the George V playing field the route loops south towards Chailey and back and features enthusiastic marshals and a field of startled deer and bemused llamas. The course is described as undulating, a word which puts a wry smile on the face of experienced runners as it inevitably means an energy sapping rollercoaster of a run. Any thoughts of sticking to a pre-planned pace are quickly dismissed as fast downhill sections are interspersed with a variety of inclines. As the sun finally burnt off the stubborn clouds, some welcome shade was found on the quiet country lanes in the latter part of the race.
Road race planners evidently delight in the suffering of the participants as most finish with a steep uphill slog where you suddenly become aware of the existence of your quadriceps. Newick is no exception and although the tannoy at the finish can clearly be heard, deceptively it’s still a 2K climb away. The finish line is adjacent to the bar – so it’s not all bad news and in reality the race compared to a pan-flat course is more rewarding, especially after conquering that final hill.
The winner was Louis Taub of Brighton & Hove AC in 35.44. First Strider again was Simon Fletcher 7th overall with 37.17 followed by elite class Dave Dunstall 39.51 and Phil Carr 39.59. More impressive times on a tough course from Colin Hannant 42.00, Michael Martin 42.47, Harry Strong 42.51, Phil Robinson 43.10, Natasha Swan 45.31 and Claire Keith 47.45. Bob Ward defied injury with 49.55 followed by Rob Webber 50.45, Chris Wrathall 50.57, Jackie Webber 51.47 and Louisa Scola in her first race for the club 54.16. Finally Zoe King 60.47 pipped Trevor Jones 60.50 and wonky knee victim Tom Roper 67.04 and Richard Kimber 67.31 gave it their all.
On the previous weekend six Striders travelled to West Sussex to take part in the Henfield Half Marathon. This race was held on a humid day with light rain, so spoiling somewhat the normally scenic route. The course made use of a stretch of the nearby disused railway, part of the Adur riverbank path with tricky conditions underfoot and the undulating countryside west of Henfield. The winner was Matt Bradford of Lewes AC in a time of 1.20.57. First Strider was Geoff Gray who ran superbly at under 7mins per mile in clocking 1.25.03 and 6th place overall. Next to finish was Phil Carr in 1.31.05, Phil Robinson 1.37.21, Michael Martin 1.40.00, Natasha Swan 1.42.00 and finally Claire Keith in 1.53.17.