News, Sport

Neil Boniface wins the Barns Green Half Marathon again!


Martin Read – Sports Reporter


Last Sunday’s Barns Green Half Marathon and 10K race – in aid of St Catherine’s Hospice – were run in ideal conditions, a traditional bonus on the village’s iconic annual sporting day. And, this year there were record numbers of entrants, encouraged by a huge crowd of supporters and spectators, all revelling in the unbeatable carnival atmosphere. The funfair was in full swing and enticing breakfast aromas wafted across from the refreshment stalls as Diane Eggitt conducted an energetic warm up. The course was adorned with encouraging posters and The Offbeats – local saxophonists Jane, Sue and Ali – accompanied keyboard player Richard and Chris on the double base, performing lively music “to give the runners a boost!”                                                                                            The half marathon marked the birthday of this year’s starter, Horsham MP Jeremy Quin, who launched the runners with his best wishes, explaining that he was disappointed not to be able to participate in the 10K race as intended because of injuring his back during a training run. Neil Boniface of Horsham Joggers romped home with a time of 1 hour ten minutes and 15 seconds, reprising his wins in 2000, 2013 and 2014 and victory in last year’s 10K race, telling the District Post: “It was tough and I’ll pay for it tomorrow! I was beginning to run out of legs, but it’ll stand me in good stead for the cross country event I’m doing next week.” Paul Navesey was second in 1.11.50, while triathlon competitor Bethan Male was the first lady in 1.27.41, ahead of Sue Fry (1.28.18), Bethan quipping: “I’m only smiling because its over!”

The 10K event was started by Wendy Buckingham, who has a poignant reason to support St Catherine’s Hospice. With her three young daughters by her side, Wendy said: “Sadly, I lost my husband all too young but the way St Catherine’s looked after him was truly fantastic and their aftercare was so supportive for me and the girls at such a difficult time. So, I’m here to encourage everyone to contribute towards the wonderful service that they provide.” Jeremy Quin echoed Wendy’s sentiments, saying: “St Catherine’s cared for my mother-in-law – they are magnificent and I can’t praise them enough.” Michaela Clements, the hospice’s events organiser hoped that the day would raise £10,000 for the charity to help fund their work, including many home visits.                                                                                                       In only its second year the 10K race attracted over 600 runners and was won by Bernie Spangall in 33.11, Kat Owens, getting in trim for the Chicago full marathon, led the ladies home in 40.42. The day’s fun runners, featured an owl, batman and a leprechaun – otherwise known as Sam Boylett – the fancy dress winner telling us: “I trained as a vet and ran to raise £500 for Holbrook Animal Rescue to help them to continue their excellent work.” Many of the runners were sponsored and the fun entrants included  sisters Emily and Charlotte (CJ) White, Horsham Hockey Club players, who passed stewards from the club en route, a beaming Emily saying: “I managed to improve on my personal best, so I’m really please with that!”

In addition to musicians playing around the course, the Sussex Steel ensemble and the Horsham Accordion Band entertained everyone on the green alongside the village club.  The runners were all chip-timed and every participant was given a medal. After soothing post race massages, the half marathon winners each received cheques for £250 and a glass decanter. And, to mark the 35th running of the half marathon, the nearby Linseed Farm at Muntham donated special baskets filled with their health products. A special presentation was made to John Booker, the only person to compete in every race, John commenting: “Its getting tougher because as I get older I’m doing less training, but I’m looking forward to next year!” At the awards ceremony Jeremy Quin spoke for all present, praising “the superb organisation of the marvellous Barns Green Half Marathon and 10K Committee.” Committee mainstays include Race Director Vernon Jennings, first involved in 1983, Nigel Currie, and Race Secretary Sue Parillon, who told us: “Next year’s race is on Sunday September 30 and runners can enrol now, taking advantage of our special early bird offer via”

The incredible turn out is backed by the whole village and a veritable army of volunteers, making it an exceptional family day out.

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