Sizeable cash bonus prizes for breaking the Hastings Half Marathon course records will be up for grabs at next month’s race for the first time in 16 years.
Rob Magri, owner of Premier Travel Chauffeurs, is prepared to offer a bonus prize of £1,000 for the first male and female runners to beat the existing course records.
The 32nd running of the Hastings Half Marathon, organised by the Lions Club of Hastings, will take place on Sunday March 20.
Hastings Half Marathon race director Eric Hardwick MBE said: “We are most grateful for the innovative thinking of Premier Travel Chauffeurs to bring back this popular challenge, especially as this means that charity money is not affected and all monies raised from the event go back into our community.
“This will mean an added interest for everyone and may even attract more top athletes to enter the event. It is very apt that a private hire long distance company is supporting this long distance running event.
“It always used to create great interest and excitement when the event had bonus prizes, with many people asking if ‘the record’ was going to be broken.”
The male and female course records date back to the last century. Kenyan flyer Samuel Otieno set the men’s mark at 1:01.37 in 1999 and the women’s best of 1:11.13 was posted by Andrea Wallace in 1993.
Over recent years it has been impossible to get cover for bonus prizes and in most cases insurers would only cover beating world records, which was not worthwhile for Hastings as it’s a tougher event than most. Magri has decided to risk putting up the bonus money himself.
He said: “We have been supporting the local half marathon for over eight years now and we would like to offer another little incentive for our runners. This will hopefully make the whole event more exciting than ever.”
Can the records be broken? This depends on the quality of the runners taking part and if they make a ‘race of it’. Weather conditions on race day are a crucial factor too.
The male target is very tough and to put it into context, none of the last six winners have gone under 64 minutes. Even though it’s stood for longer, the female record, however, is perhaps more likely to be threatened.
Kenya has produced 16 of the last 18 men’s winners and the last five women’s champions. Four Kenyans have entered this year’s event so far - men Jonas Cheruiyot (PB 1:03.15) and Robert Mbithi (PB 1:03.49), and women Lenah Jerotich (PB 1:11.31) and Lucy Liavoga (PB 1:13.12). The word from their agent is that Jerotich would certainly go for the record.
Race numbers have been sent out to many of the runners who have entered the race so far, but if you’ve not yet signed up, you can still do so at www.hastings-half.co.uk
You can also enter the Mini-Run - a shorter seafront race for children aged 11-16 which takes place during the half marathon - via the same website.
The Hastings Half Marathon is widely regarded as one of the country’s finest events of its kind.
Premier Travel Chauffeurs is an airport transfer and long distance specialist company located along the Hastings Half Marathon route on The Ridge.
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