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Town's first half-marathon proves a runaway success

Tuesday, 13th May 2014.

More than 350 runners braved the rain and wind to compete in Haverhill's inaugural half-marathon and ten-kilometre races.

The events, raising money for St Nicholas Hospice Care, were held on Sunday, starting and finishing on the recreation ground.

Some 180 runners took part in Haver10, setting off down Withersfield Road and the railway line before returning through Sturmer, while 173 completed HaverHalf, also running out to Withersfield and finishing by going around the golf club and through the Chalkstone estate.

There was a largely positive response to the runs, with competitors expressing their enjoyment of the challenging course and many pledging to compete again in future years.

The Man Alive documentary team were filming on the day, with their final piece set to be shown at the Haverhill Arts Festival next month.

Matthew Slater (Cambridge and Coleridge) won HaverHalf, followed by Jim Morris (Stamford Striders) and Martin Lawrence (Haverhill Running Club), with the first women Odette Robson (St Edmunds Pacers), Fiona Halls (Saffron Striders) and Mandy Coleman (Newmarket Joggers).

Springfield Striders' Andrew Mynott won Haver10, followed by Tom Kingsnorth (St Edmund Pacers) and James Hayward (Saffron Striders), while the first women were Carrie Bedingfield (Cambridge and Colderidge), Nicki Davis and Alison Couldry (Haverhill Running Club).

There were some issues on the day, with the table and chairs for a water station on the Chalkstone estate stolen prior to marshals arriving, some confusion over where runners should be crossing Ehringshausen Way and some drivers ignoring road closures.

The event was licensed by UK Athletics, who will now review it based on the independent adjudicator's assessment.

Race director Jack Tappin said: "I was astonished by how well-received the race has been, both in the levels of excitement in the town leading up to it and participation on the day.

"I originally hoped to attract 200 runners and, having had almost 400, the day when I celebrated reaching the benchmark of 100 seems an age away now.

"I know Haverhill has a vibrant running scene and thriving community, and this evidenced that by the number of runners, both from the town and across the region, and the level of support in people volunteering their time and businesses funding or supporting the event.

"There were some issues but this whole event has been a huge learning curve for me, and I will learn from those things to put them right for future years and hopefully offer an improved HaverHalf and Haver10 experience in 2015."

West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock completed HaverHalf, running his first ever half-marathon in 1hr 50min.

"Despite the miserable weather, the Haver10 and Haverhalf went brilliantly on Sunday," said the skills minister.

"The atmosphere was fantastic with people supporting runners all along the route.

"Jack Tappin was an excellent race director and organiser - the whole morning ran very smoothly, the volunteer marshals kept us all going and the kids manning the water stations were great!

"The only thing Jack couldn't control was the weather but after two very successful races, I think we'll let him off that.

"I hope this marks the first of many Haver-runs to come!"

Haverhill mayor Roger André set off HaverHalf and also handed out prizes to the category winners.

"The Haverhalf and Haver10 was extremely well supported," he said.

"Despite buffeting weather conditions the events attracted huge entries and an enthusiastic crowd of spectators and well wishers.

"The event was a hallmark occasion for our community and builds on the Olympic legacy.

"We are hoping that the event can become an annual fixture in our town and looking forward to developing ever-increasing participation."

Kevin Clements, director of fundraising and marketing for St Nicholas Hospice Care, said: "Events like this are so important to St Nicholas Hospice Care, and with our first ever outreach facility opening at The Burton Centre in Haverhill this summer, the HaverHalf and Haver10 will really help generate money and awareness for the new centre.

"We hope our hospice services at The Burton Centre will support the Haverhill community for many years to come.

"Our huge thanks go to race director Jack Tappin and all of the volunteers, sponsors and runners who made this event possible."

The race was made possible thanks to funding from Sanofi, Real Bodies Healh and Fitness, ONE Haverhill, Suffolk County Council and Haverhill Town Council.

Further support came from Stylize Design Graphics, GreenAir Cars, OS Communications, Perform Sports Therapy, Eagle Eye Imaging, KP Landscaping, Castle Manor Academy and Digital Print Shop.

Haverhill Online News

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