Two half marathons; 13 miles apart; 600 runners
This is the story of two Kent classics that shared a race-hungry field
Just like London buses, you wait an entire lockdown for a half marathon in Kent, then along come two at once! Nice Work's Podplus Kent Spring Marathon and Half and the Running and Riding promoted Headcorn Half Marathon were held just a half marathon apart and both races started simultaneously at 9:00am on Sunday (11 April).
Podplus Kent Spring Marathon and Half did have the additional element of the marathon starting at 8:00am from Sandyacres Sports Club on the outskirts of Ashford. This was eagerly contested by 112 finishers in 6:14:16, on an undulating, two-lap, multi-terrain course using the quiet roads surrounding Ashford, Westwell and Charing, including a stretch along the scenic and historic Pilgrims Way.
The marathon winner – by three minutes – was M40 master Mathieu Lavedrine (2:42:34), who became the fastest marathon runner dressed as a Star Wars character when he ran 3:05:27 in London 2018 wearing a full X-Wing pilot's uniform, including helmet! The Force was with Mathieu once again as he fought off the challenge of M45 Ben Hebblethwaite (Ashford AC, 2:45:38) to retain his title from last year and improve on his own course record.
The top two ladies were also the top masters: W45 Annette Shrimpton (Orpington RR, 3:32:49) and W45 Cath Stibbs (Kent AC, 3:37:04). Heather Noone (Woodbridge Shufflers) retained her outstanding course record of 2:49:32, set when she won the 2019 race outright!
Podplus Kent Spring Half Marathon drew 235 finishers in 3:45:40 and was won in an exciting but socially-distanced 'sprint finish' (due to the wave start) by Chris Holmes (London Heathside, 1:11:48) from Marshall Smith (Ashford AC, 1:11:51). Rebecca Bunting (1:24:31) had an easier time in the women's race, where Delia Beddis (1:34:21) was the runner-up.
Exactly 13 miles away according to the AA route planner, at Headcorn Primary School, there were 262 finishers in 2:43:05 in the Headcorn Half Marathon. The course starts and finishes on Days Green and uses the lanes through Egerton Forstal and Southernden before returning to Headcorn village green.
The leading trio were Michal Blaszczuk (1:14:23), Charles George (Paddock Wood, 1:15:24) and M45 Justin Lane (Medway & Maidstone, 1:15:59). Meanwhile, the women's race was headed by Stacey Clusker (HY Runners, 1:26:16), former England footballer and GB triathlete Ellie Baxter (Burn Fitness, 1:27:35) and Lizzy Baxter (Burn Fitness, 1:27:35).
Results are available via runABC South's comprehensive race listing service
Image: Podplus Kent Spring Half Marathon courtesy My Sport Photos