Kenyan flyers target Hastings Half Marathon records
The race is on to see if anyone can pick up the four-figure cash bonus for breaking the Hastings Half Marathon course records.
Rob Magri, director of Premier Travel Chauffeurs, has put up a £1,000 bonus for the first male and female runners to better the existing marks in this morning’s (Sunday’s) race.
The fact that the men’s record has stood since 1999 - when Samuel Otieno clocked a rapid time of 1:01.37 - and the ladies’ best since Andrea Wallace ran 1:11.13 in 1993 illustrates the difficulty of the task facing those taking up the challenge.
But the performances of two Kenyan entrants in triumphing at last weekend’s Bath Half Marathon suggest that Magri’s money might not be quite as safe as one might have expected.
Robert Mbithi (race number 2) won at Bath by nearly three minutes in a new personal best of 1:01.45 and if he can reproduce that sort of form over the challenging Hastings course, the record may well come under threat.
Female Kenyan runner Lenah Jerotich (3), also from the Team Run-Fast stable which has produced a number of Hastings winners in recent years, will be eyeing up the women’s record.
Jerotich is a very special talent who, amongst other victories, won last year’s Cardiff Half Marathon in a time of 1:11.31. She finished two minutes clear of the field in Bath in 1:12.24 and the word is that was she was saving her best for Hastings.
Jonas Cheruiyot (5) and Lucy Liavoga (4), team-mates of Mbithi and Jerotich and quality athletes in their own right, could well find themselves supporting their faster partners.
There is an equally interesting battle for the local honours, especially as Jeff Pyrah - the top local man last year with an excellent third place finish - is out injured.
Rhys Boorman (3149) - winner of the Eastbourne Half Marathon nine days ago - is improving all the time and it will be fascinating to see if he can get the better of fellow Hastings Athletic Club talent James Mountford (670) for the first time. The two men finished just five seconds apart at last month’s Vitality Brighton Half Marathon, with Mountford 12th and Boorman 13th.
The experienced Daniel Anderson (2507), who has achieved a number of decent finishes in the race down the years, will bid to show the youngsters he is still a threat.
Stacey Clusker (2044)looks to be the top local female runner and it will be interesting to see if she can be threatened in what will be the 32nd staging of the annual Hastings Lions Club-organised event.
The field of several thousand runners is expected to contain nearly 50 visitors from our twin towns in Holland and Belgium, and other countries with entrants include France, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, Italy, USA, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Germany.
Many runners will be raising funds for charities and needy causes, including world seniors snooker champion Mark Davis (1507). Andy Chadwick (3028) will be aiming to beat the three-hour mark running backwards.
Organisers are hoping to see a number of Normans and Saxons to mark the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
The race will start in Sea Road, St Leonards, at 10.30am.
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