Runners ready for the off

The 30th running of the Hastings Half Marathon will take place this morning
The 30th running of the Hastings Half Marathon will take place this morning

The town’s biggest annual sporting event hits the streets this morning (Sunday) when thousands of runners will tackle the 30th Hastings Half Marathon.

The Hastings Lions Club-organised 13.1-mile race is set to attract a bumper 4,500-strong field including several high-quality international athletes.

The Kenyans are once again expected to dominate with course debutant Boniface Kongin (Race No. 3911) tipped for victory, although 2010 winner Ben Fish may well spring a surprise.

In the women’s race it is hard to look beyond Kenyan Linah Chirchir (3912), who will be competing for the first time outside of Africa.

The battle for the Sussex Championship should be a tighter affair, with last year’s defending champion James Baker (2777) hoping to replicate the feat once again. However, Paul Cousins (3853) and Matt Southam (54) could also be in the hunt.

The women’s field is wide open, with a number of runners in with a realistic shout, including Sue Fry (1499), Emily Proto (1950), Vicki Clark (395) and local contender Samantha Alvarez (2899).

A number of past winners have entered for the race, notably Eamonn Martin - the last British winner of the London Marathon. The 55-year-old triumphed at both Hastings and London in 1993.

Race director Eric Hardwick said: “It’s a big sporting occasion, probably the biggest in the South East this weekend, but it’s also about everyone involved more than anything. One of the most interesting aspects will the introduction of the past winners before the start. I think that will be a bit special.”

Scores of people will be taking part to raise money for charity. Louis Bedwell will be pulling a trailer around the route for 30 hours non-stop after starting yesterday morning, while Matthew Stephens will don an American football outfit in order to raise awareness for Hastings Conquerors, while attempting to break a Guinness World Record.

Five motivation stations will line the course, handing out stickers and alike to the crowds, while also providing fruit and water to the competitors. The stations will be situated on the start/finish line at Sea Road, St Leonards, towards the top-end of Queensway, by the cemetery, and next to the pier.

The race gets underway at 10.30am.