Horsham Joggers’ Neil Bonniface blazed through the finish line in first place at the annual Barns Green Half Marathon.
This year the half marathon has also been awarded Gold Grade Status by the British Association of Road Races.
Diane Eggitt ran enthusiastic warm ups for runners and visitors, saying: “I’ve run the BGHM several times and know what you’re in for!”
Race starter England rugby star Joe Launchbury, sporting a black eye from Wasps’ victory the previous day, told The District Post: “I never mind getting hurt when we win!” Joe played both rugby and cricket for Barns Green while at Christ’s Hospital School and said: “I always love returning here, I’m fit but would struggle to do a half marathon.”
1500 goody bags were packed by the village youth club in record time, Committee Chairman Vernon Jennings telling us: “Everyone here gets behind this event – about 100 volunteers doing everything, giving their time willingly, we’ve expanded the event and our aim is to keep improving every year.”
Neil Bonniface from Horsham Joggers was first home, finishing in 1.11.05, saying: “I won in 2000 but then gave up running for a while. This year’s time wasn’t so quick, but I really enjoyed it.” Woking’s Rose Nicholson was the fastest lady in 1.27.06, repeating her victory of three years ago, commenting: “I was fitter last time, I’ve only been preparing since July, so that was tough!”
There was a Harry Hill look alike and others in fancy dress raising money for Arundel’s Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice ahead of their 10th birthday open days today (Friday) and tomorrow. Many other good causes benefit, including Barns Green projects. Some runners came from far afield but many were local, including Joshua Dennison: “After the hillier courses I’ve run this one’s not too bad – I watched Rocky 3 for training!” Max Dumbrell, on his third race, said: “I didn’t do any training but it was great,” Paul Oakley adding: “Although I run this route regularly the hills don’t get easier!”
Next year’s race will be on September 28, and the committee start organising in January – determined to maintain their gold rating.