There were 12,561 starters at an unexpectedly warm eighth annual Brighton Marathon on Sunday (9 April) with Stuart Hawkes (Tipton Harriers) making history by becoming the first British winner. The colourful throng made their way out of Preston Park with a fresh breeze and 14C on the thermometer but by the time Hawkes had breasted the tape 2:27:36 later it was already 20C and climbing towards the hottest day of the year so far.
With the temperature soaring and an absence of African athletes this year the course records were safe and an estimated 150,000 spectators were treated to an all domestic battle for supremacy. Hawkes eventually prevailed, missing his PB by 43sec in the torrid conditions. Nearest challengers were Ollie Garrod (Epsom & Ewell, 2:31:33 PB) and local favourite Jon Pepper (Brighton Phoenix, 2:31:57), who had led the race for over 35kms.
The women's race was expected to be close and went to the experienced W35 Helen Davies (Ipswich Jaffa, 2:42:40) from Hayley Munn (Winchester, 2:46:00) and W35 Helen Buller (2:51:22). The top 100 broke three hours; nearly 2,500 smashed four hours and the final runner on Madeira Drive took almost nine hours, with a higher than usual rate of attrition.
The supporting BM10K race saw three men inside 31 minutes as Matt Sharp (Enfield & Haringey, 30:13) led all the way to head popular local Finn McNally (Brighton Phoenix, 30:33) and Paul Whittaker (Southend, 30:44) to the finish line. The women's race was a quality event with sub-34 times for GB internationals Katrina Wootton (Coventry, 32:43), Lily Partridge (Aldershot, 33:52) and Phoebe Law (Kingston & Poly, 33:57). There were more than 2,500 competitors with Royston Reid closing the race in 1:50:46.
Some residents on the route doused competitors with garden hoses to help the masses towards their personal and charitable targets. Marion Buggins, of MacMillan Cancer Trust, said: “We had 482 runners make up our biggest team yet and raised £225,000”, and Kate Smith, from Cancer Research UK, thought their runners would raise £400,000.
Entries are already open for next year (15 April, 2018) and full Brighton Marathon weekend information is online here
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Image courtesy Brighton Marathon gallery.