By Connor Steel
FOLLOWING a two-year absence due to Covid-19 lockdowns, the Gosport Half Marathon returned last weekend as runners flocked to the town’s streets.
More than 1,300 participants completing the 13-mile route on Sunday in glorious, sunny but chilly conditions.
The event celebrated the 35th anniversary since it first began in 1985, with the race starting and finishing at Bay House School. It then ran alongside the Lee-on-the-Solent coastline before returning using the promenade with road closures to ensure runners’ safety.
Starting at 10am, the half marathon featured categories based on gender, age and running experience; regular checkpoints ran by volunteers offering water and other essentials on a flat track. There was also support shown by members of the public and from groups including the Big Noise Samba Band.
An exact total of 1,322 finishers completed the race, with the prize of fastest finisher going to Andrew Penney after a brilliant run. The runner from Hercules Wimbledon Athletic Club finished with a time of one hour, nine minutes and 43 seconds, according to the records.
Second and third place went to the Isle of Wight-based pair Will and Thomas Newham, who were representing Ryde Harriers Running Club. Will passed the line with a time of 1:10:42, while Thomas finished less than a minute later on an impressive 1:11:08.
The women’s event continued a theme of victors coming from other counties, with the fastest female being Anne-Marie Bayliss from City of Salisbury Running club. Her time was officially given as one hour, twenty-two minutes and 5 seconds (1:22:05) overall.
Coming a close second in the female side was Sarah Forbes-Smith from Tri Surrey Running Club with a finish time of 1:22:10, while the third fastest runner was confirmed as Rose Penfold of London-based Fulham Running Club; finishing with a time of 1 hour, 23 minutes and one second.
Goody bags including a medal were given out to all participants who crossed the finishing line, one of the many changes compared to 2019 due to some Covid-19 restrictions. This event started its planning back in January and the race director was delighted with how it went, although he confessed more runners were preferred.
Director and Organiser Neil Elshaw told the Portsmouth News: “We called off last year’s (race) so to be able to run it this year, for us, was really important. We did have a higher drop-out, so we had less runners this year than we’ve had in previous years, but that’s okay because it’s more about putting on the event”.
“It’s quite a big thing in the local area, we raise money for charities in the local area, it brings quite a lot of the community together so it was really important we put the event on. It went really well. I’m really pleased with a lot of the feedback that we’ve had, it’s been really positive. We’re renowned for our marshals and the support we give to all the runners. It was just a fantastic day”.
Gosport Mayor Mark Hook was also in attendance at the event, posing for photographs with Diving Museum Director Councillor Kevin Casey, who wore a diver’s suit while taking selfies with many runners. Photographs can be seen below this article.
More information can be found on the Gosport Half Marathon website, with the 2022 date set to be announced over the coming weeks.