A record number of runners took part in the Brighton Half Marathon yesterday morning.
Former Great Britain athlete and Sussex local Sally Gunnell OBE sounded the starting klaxon to get more than 8,000 runners on their way for the Vitality Brighton Half Marathon.
The former Olympic hurdler cheered on runners as they passed the start line on Brighton’s famous seafront, wishing them well for their 13.1 mile journey around the city.
A sea of confetti got the race off to a colourful start, and runners were cheered along the route by hundreds of spectators, bands, choirs and stiltwalkers, plus a community stage provided by The Grand Brighton.
Now in its 26th year, the much-loved race is organised by The Sussex Beacon, a Brighton-based charity which provides a range of services for men, women and families living with or affected by HIV across Sussex.
The 2016 race field was the largest in the event’s history, with many local, national and international runners in the race.
The event had 8,095 finishers and in the men’s elite race, Paul Martelletti stole the show once again, taking his fourth successive title and once again breaking the course record to finish in a time of 1hr 04min 53sec. Second place went to Christopher Zablocki in a time of 1-08-20, while Kevin Rojas of Brighton & Hove Athletics finished in great form in a time of 1-08-36.
In the women’s elite race, Leigh Lattimore, a seasoned 5,000m and 10,000m XC runner, showed a storming finish in her first ever half marathon, finishing in a time of 1-15-52, breaking the course record by more than two minutes. Runner-up Sarah Hill was soon to follow in 1-18-22, and third place was taken by Fiona De Mauny in 1-22-18.
Alongside the elite field, thousands of charity runners took to the streets of the city, raising vital funds for more than 50 charities, including local charities Chestnut Tree House, RISE and The Sussex Beacon and national charities including Laureus, WaterAid and Scope.
Celebrity runners in the race included Norman Cook running for Young Epilepsy and the comedian Joe Wilkinson, running for Amaze. Local ‘hat challenge’ runner Sara Cutting, who won a Point of Light award from the Prime Minister in January for her fund-raising achievements, also took to the course, fund-raising for Macmillan.
The race started in 1990 as a small event involving around 200 runners from local athletic clubs and has become an established event for those training for a Spring marathon.
Simon Dowe, CEO of The Sussex Beacon, said: “As the organisers of the Vitality Brighton Half Marathon, The Sussex Beacon are very proud to be associated with one of the best running events in the UK. The funds raised by this event enable us to deliver our essential services to people living with HIV, but more than this it is a vehicle for so many other charities local, national and international to help continue their amazing work.”
The race forms part of the Vitality Run Series, a series of seven leading half marathons and two 10Ks in the UK.
Neville Koopowitz, CEO of Vitality, commented: “Congratulations to everyone who participated in yesterday’s Vitality Brighton Half Marathon. We were delighted to see so many runners take part and we look forward to our next events - the Vitality Liverpool and Vitality Bath Half Marathons on Sunday 13th March.”
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