Show of defiance and support as mid Sussex runners take on capital test

Helen 'Minnie Mouse' Pratt (BHR) at the finish of the London Marathon start at Blackheath
Helen 'Minnie Mouse' Pratt (BHR) at the finish of the London Marathon start at Blackheath

The area’s two big running clubs were represented in Sunday’s heart-warming London Marathon.

Burgess Hill Runners sent another healthy contingent to the Virgin-sponsored event in the capital.

On a beautiful spring day, full of emotion following the events in Boston earlier in the week, crowds turned out in their hundreds of thousands to provide the runners with unbelievable and noisy support, particularly in the later stages as temperatures increased and things became particularly tough.

Despite very little training, Dave Richardson was delighted to finish in 3hrs 20 minutes 49 seconds, some way off his pb but an excellent performance in the circumstances.

Suzanne Sturgeon, who completed the Brighton Marathon just a week beforehand, finished in a remarkable 3.48.17, closely followed by Darren Chilcott, another doubling up after Brighton, in 3.54.08.

Sue Lyle was agonisingly just over the four-hour barrier in 4.00.18, with Emma Buckland close behind in 4.07.15. Alison Hatch crossed the line in 4.32.54, and Helen Pratt fulfilled a lifelong ambition in completing the London event, smashing an incredible 20 minutes off her previous best to finish in 4.45.10.

Last, but by no means least was Leanne Cleaveley in 5.50.50. She also completed the Brighton Marathon a week earlier, and will be running the Manchester Marathon this week as part of a ‘three in three weeks’ challenge.

The pleasure and pain of running possibly the greatest marathon in the world was taken on by four Haywards Heath Harriers, who were part of the massive field of more than 34,000 runners.

A surprisingly warm day following harsh winter training temperatures led to a gruelling 26.2 miles across the capital and this year the course again included the cobbles around Cutty Sark.

First Harrier home to The Mall was Mark Davies in a new personal best and splendid time of 3.07:51 which placed him 1,984th place.

Mike Scholes battled through injury and his poor vision problems to complete in a superb 3.19:13 and was a brilliant 49th in his age category.

Peter Cobbett clocked a solid 4.50:12 for 136th in his age category. His experience and quality enabled him to be spotted enjoying the crowds at Mile 18 with a great spring in his step.

Graham Jenner, a new associate member of Harriers, clocked 4.08:32.

Burgess Hill Runners have become the first all adult members club in the south east, London and east regions to receive Club Accreditation.

The award was made, appropriately, in between their 40-strong Run England Beginners’ group finishing a run and the main club starting to limber up at their base at Burgess Hill School for Girls.

Catering for both groups has helped the club treble membership since Jan Lavis