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Neil Boniface’s fifth Barns Green Half Marathon win!

Photo by Clive Turner

Barns Green Half Marathon – Sunday September 30

Martin Read – Sports Reporter

This year’s Barns Green Half Marathon and 10K race were bigger and better than ever, the traditional lovely weather attracting large fields of runners and a huge crowd of spectators to the much-savoured community event, once again demonstrating why Barns Green is known as ‘The Village with a Heart’.

As ever, the village green was alive with music, food stalls, fair ground activities and fund raising stalls and after warm ups provided by bluecoatsports the half Marathon was started by Christ’s Hospital Headmaster Simon Reid with the longest siren blast in living memory, the cavalry charge of runners being warned about the speed hump 20 metres from the start line! Horsham Joggers’ Neil Boniface – appropriately wearing number one – was in the front row of the grid and led by some distance at the half way stage before romping home in I hour 10 minutes and 21 seconds, just 6 seconds outside his winning time of last year. Looking remarkably fresh and still full of running, Neil told the District Post: “I got a lot of encouragement on the way round and I’ll be back again next year if my knees hold up!” James Baker, another serial Barns Green Marathon winner, was second in 1.12.30. The first lady home was Rachel Hillman from Eastbourne in 1.25.58, saying: “This was my first run at Barns Green – it’s a very up and down course, but I intend to return to defend my title next year!” In addition to the highly competitive runners the race is a challenge for those just seeking to keep fit, mature local runner Jason Summerfield telling us: “I first ran here when I was young, coming back to it more recently – my aim is to get round in under two hours and I was pleased to record my best time today!” Among the fancy dress runners, Emma Catlow – no stranger to Barns Green runs – was Wonder Woman – accompanied by her friend Bat Woman, otherwise known as Beck Elder, Emma saying: “It’s my birthday today, so I wanted to celebrate in style – and my husband, Mike, ran in the 10K race!” When going through the school grounds the runners were greatly uplifted by the 120 strong Christ’s Hospital Marching Band, Simon Reid, who cycled over, emphasing: “I am delighted that CH is able to support this unique local event, which has made a huge contribution to the local community over the last 36 years, bringing the School and village together, forming an important part of our work in the area.”              

Poignantly, the 10K race was started by Pauline Munster and Lorraine Awcock, whose husbands, sadly died on the same day, Race Director Vernon Jennings saying: “Brian and Mike were two of my best friends and they were race marshalls for 56 years between them, so I’m delighted that Pauline & Lorraine have kindly agreed to start the race in their memory.” Pauline said: “It is great that the races are raising funds for locally based St Catherine’s Hospice again – I cannot speak highly enough of them, not just for Brian, but for the whole family,” Lorraine adding: “St Catherine’s Community Team were brilliant, so amazing when Mike was treated at home.” Thanks to the generosity of the runners and supporters, last year the races raised £18,000  for St Catherine’s and the organisers are hoping to donate even more this year.                                                         

London 2012 Olympian Scott Overall won the 10K race in 31.07, with Maisie Trafford leading home the ladies in 38.03 – both course records. All of the runners in both races – some 2,000 entrants, from near and far – received medals with handsome cash and trophy prizes going to the various categories of winners, the incredible turn out being backed by the whole village and a veritable army of volunteers, making it an exceptional family day out, Vernon Jennings commenting: “Because of Dark Star Brewery sponsorship, we will be able to allocate even more funds to St Catherine’s – and to the various local and junior organisations, societies and clubs that help us organise the event on the day,” while committee member Nigel Currie summed up with: “Work on the event goes on all year and it is important that we start attracting entries for next year’s races now, so please make a diary note – the 2019 races will be on Sunday 29th September and you can apply now! Please go to”   

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