All set ahead of Hitchin Hard Half Marathon – now backed by the Comet

PUBLISHED: 13:56 04 March 2018 | UPDATED: 07:05 12 March 2018

Members of the Rotary Club of Hitchin Tilehouse gather at Hitchin Priory for the launch of the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon. Picture: Danny Loo

Members of the Rotary Club of Hitchin Tilehouse gather at Hitchin Priory for the launch of the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2018

The Hitchin Hard Half Marathon is back again this year – and it’s now being backed by the Comet.

Members of the Rotary Club of Hitchin Tilehouse gather at Hitchin Priory for the launch of the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon. Picture: Danny Loo Members of the Rotary Club of Hitchin Tilehouse gather at Hitchin Priory for the launch of the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon. Picture: Danny Loo

The annual race, which is this year on June 24, is organised by the Rotary Club of Hitchin Tilehouse and raises thousands for good causes every year.

But it isn’t as hard as it used to be, some say – the original course, run annually for two decades up to 2003, ended on top of Windmill Hill and required a big last push up Hollow Lane to the finish.

The Rotarians revived the Hard Half in 2012 with a new route starting at Hitchin Priory, and the event has since gone from strength to strength.

“It’s called the Hard Half because there’s hardly a flat section,” said Tim Ray, from the organsing team.

“The race goes up and down Offley Holes Hill, which is a stiff climb for round here.

“It’s a challenge, but show it respect and many people can do personal bests.”

There are now 10km and 5km runs in addition to the headline event. The 10km, introduced in 2015, still sends runners climbing Offley Holes Hill and back from Preston via Gosmore. The 5km fun run uses Maydencroft Lane.

The Hard Half has raised more than £30,000 to date, with Cancer HairCare, Hitchin Scouting, the British Schools Museum and the Lister Hospital Neo-Natal Centre among the causes to benefit. This year the race is supporting the North Herts Centre for Voluntary Service, based in Stevenage.

“Our aim is to put something back into our community and create a fun well-organised event with a local feel that doesn’t take all day,” said Tim.

“We have great support from Hitchin Priory and the 70 volunteers it takes to man the course and get things in place.

“The course manager Jamie has been known to dig the field drains out himself in the wetter years. It’s true, being at the end of June you can never be quite sure what the weather is going to do.”

Tim said he would like to thank businesses Lyndhurst Financial Management and Modern Networks for their help making the Hard Half possible.

Last year’s Hard Half was won by Mark Vaughan in an hour and 16 minutes. Emily Hutchinson was the fastest woman in 1:30.

The Hitchin Hard Half starts at 9.30am on Sunday, June 24. Enter online at h3m.co.uk. There is no entry on the day.

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