Paul Molyneux (Springfield Striders/Army) used his military training to good effect to be the sole athlete from 750 starters to go below 90 minutes for the 28th annual Benfleet 15 on Sunday (21 January).
Conditions on the challenging, multi-terrain course were exacerbated by snow flurries as the field made their way from Hadleigh Country Park mountain bike course to pass Two Tree Island at five miles, running alongside Canvey Island sea wall to Castle Point golf course at 10 miles and back to the welcoming finish line at Hadleigh.
The race instructions wisely warned runners to keep an eye on the weather forecast and dress appropriately for the conditions – good advice given the exposed sections on the Hadleigh Downs.
Paul Molyneux soon forged a winning lead, commensurate with his 2:20 marathon credentials, powering home in 1:28:58. The chasing pack was led by M40 Crispian Bloomfield (Billericay, 1:30:46) who surely has one of the most detailed profile of any athlete on the sport's statistical website, Power of 10
. The third place battle was won by Alex Manton (Springfield Striders, 1:34:09).
The women's rostrum was occupied by W35 Nikki Brockbank (Springfield, 1:46:49), Jennifer Ansell (East London, 1:48:15) and Sophie Donges (Victoria Park and Tower Hamlets, 1:52:08).
While it is usual practice for runners to thank the marshals and officials who make these events happen in all weathers, we thought we would share this reverse post from the race director on the Benfleet 15 Facebook
“Benfleet Running Club can put on an event every year but without you; you crazy, strong, amazing, fantastic, wonderful runners it would be nothing. On behalf of the Benfleet 15 committee and Benfleet Running Club, thank you for training so hard, for turning up in the certainty of terrible weather and smashing out 15 of the most challenging miles in the Essex running calendar. It was an honour to run the event for you all”.
Image courtesy Benfleet 15