Another Kenyan winner but a great day for the locals

There may have been yet another international winner, but it was a great day for local athletes at the 2016 Hastings Half Marathon this morning (Sunday).

Sunday, 20th March 2016, 3:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:26 pm
Robert Mbithi on his way to winning the Hastings Half Marathon. Picture by Simon Newstead (SUS-160320-141951002)

Robert Mbithi became the sixth successive Kenyan champion and 17th in the last 19 years, finishing more than six minutes clear of his compatriot Jonas Cheruiyot in second place.

But there was plenty for Hastings Athletic Club to celebrate with two of its runners finishing in the top five and three in the top eight. Rhys Boorman produced an excellent performance to finish as the leading local and top UK athlete in third place - some 20 positions higher than last year.

Experienced campaigner Daniel Anderson was an impressive fifth and Gary Foster ran a massive PB to come eighth. A fourth Hastings AC runner, Stuart Piper, came just inside the top 25, but James Mountford withdrew beforehand with a calf problem.

Hastings Half Marathon runner-up Jonas Cheruiyot (left) and winner Robert Mbithi (right). Picture by Simon Newstead (SUS-160320-141652002)

Mbithi and Cheruiyot opened up a gap ahead of the rest of the field in the first few hundred metres. Mbithi had pulled clear of his fellow countryman within half-a-mile of the start and was in a class of his own for the rest of the 13.1-mile race.

He crossed the line in a time of 1:04.51 - the second fastest winning time since 2007, but more than three minutes shy of the course record of 1:01.37 set by Samuel Otieno in 1999.

Mbithi clocked 1:01.45 in winning last weekend’s Bath Half Marathon, raising hopes of an attack on the course record - for which a £1,000 cash bonus was on offer courtesy of Rob Magri, from Premier Travel Chauffeurs - but the Hastings course proved somewhat tougher.

There was also a Kenyan winner of the women’s race for the sixth straight year as Lenah Jerotich, like Mbithi and Cheruiyot from the Team Run-Fast stable, triumphed in 1:16.51.

Rhys Boorman receives his third place trophy from town mayor Cllr Bruce Dowling. Picture by Simon Newstead (SUS-160320-142127002)

Jerotich also won at Bath in 1:12.24, but she too found the undulating Hastings route more testing and was well adrift of Andrea Wallace’s course record of 1:11.13 set in 1993.

Maria Heslop (Paddock Wood AC) was the second lady in 1:20.51, with another Kenyan, Lucy Liavoga, third in 1:22.51. Sarah Gruber (Invicta East Kent AC) and Sue Fry (Hailsham Harriers) rounded out the top five, while Hastings AC’s Stacey Clusker was the first local lady in a PB.

In all there were more 2,800 finishers on a good day for running with overcast skies, cool temperatures and a fairly calm north-easterly breeze, which helped the runners on the finishing seafront stretch.

Many of them would’ve been raising money for charities and causes close to their hearts, and some donned 1066 attire to mark the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

They were all helped along their way by the usual excellent crowd support throughout the route as the Hastings Lions Club-organised event celebrated its 32nd year.

Top 10 finishers: 1 Robert Mbithi (Team Run-Fast) 1:04.51, 2 Jonas Cheruiyot (Team Run-Fast) 1:11.02, 3 Rhys Boorman (Hastings AC) 1:12.48, 4 Tom Collins (Medway & Maidstone AC) 1:13.45, 5 Daniel Anderson (Hastings AC) 1:15.20, 6 Mark Wilkins (Medway & Maidstone AC) 1:15.30, 7 Damian Carr (Coventry Godiva Harriers) 1:16.11, 8 Gary Foster (Hastings AC) 1:16.13, 9 Lenah Jerotich (Team Run-Fast) 1:16.51, 10 Scott Richardson (Wadhurst Runners) 1:17.37.

Hastings AC also provided the top four finishers in the Mini-Run for children aged 11-16, with Jess Magorrian leading home George Pool, Isaac Elam and Marcus Ramnarine, plus the first girl in Harmony Cooper.

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