The pretty village of Lamberhurst in Kent was roused by the sound of more than 300 pairs of trainer-clad feet pounding the roads on a wet and windy New Years Day in the annual 10k and 5k road races promoted by Nice Work.
The ancient ritual of first-footing is mainly observed in Scotland and Northern England and involves a New Year's Day visitor who brings good fortune to the household. For the committed runner the tradition is put into reverse as hundreds of enthusiasts simply cannot wait to get out on 1 January and set their best time of the new year.
Lamberhurst is a thoroughly agreeable setting for a road race and the hilly course includes a rare opportunity to run through the picturesque grounds of the 14th century Scotney Castle. Not that Tonbridge AC's new recruit Angel Lopez-Cáceres had much time for sightseeing as he flew round the two-lap 10k in a tick over 35 minutes to finish 86 seconds clear of team mate Dan Bradley (36:27).
Ashley Varley (M45, 39:00) of Hastings Runners was third overall and first master to finish at Lamberhurst Village Hall and enjoy the seasonal 'nip' on offer to all finishers. Oliver Welch (Crowborough Runners, 39:38) and M40 Michael Burke (Haywards Heath Harriers, 39:42) were the final sub-40-minute runners in an illustration of the tough course and conditions.
Tonbridge also claimed the women's winner with W45 Sasha Houghton (43:26) showing a clean pair of heels to W45 Lydia Godfrey (Lewes, 45:23) and Rebecca Howard (Quakers, 46:02). Just over half the field were inside 55 minutes and there were 201 finishers in 1:15:46.
The supporting 5k run was headed by Tom Caddick (M40, 22:39) and W40 Nina Ridge (Tonbridge, 25:27) as 106 runners returned in just over an hour.
Images courtesy Nice Work and Wikipedia.