Heat makes the Hitchin Hard Half even harder

PUBLISHED: 14:52 25 June 2018 | UPDATED: 18:01 28 June 2018

The start of the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon. Picture: Alan Millard

The start of the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon. Picture: Alan Millard

Alan J Millard 15 SG4 0BS

The sweltering heat made this year’s Hitchin Hard Half Marathon even harder – but it made for a great day in the North Hertfordshire sunshine.

The start of the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon. Picture: Alan MillardThe start of the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon. Picture: Alan Millard

The Hard Half, organised by the Rotary Club of Hitchin Tilehouse and backed by the Comet, saw hundreds of runners pace it out of the Priory grounds and into the rolling hills around Preston on Sunday morning.

There was also a 10k race and 5k fun run in addition to the headline 13.1-mile event.

Hitchin Hard Half Marathon winner Mark Vaughan, centre, with second-placed Nick Malpeli, left, and third-placed Alan Dobre. Picture: Alan MillardHitchin Hard Half Marathon winner Mark Vaughan, centre, with second-placed Nick Malpeli, left, and third-placed Alan Dobre. Picture: Alan Millard

The Hard Half was won by Mark Vaughan from North Herts Road Runners, with his clubmate Nick Malpeli coming in second. Alan Dobre from Vegan Runners rounded off the top three. The top three women were Astrid Mckeown (NHRR), Leah Kenny and Kristy Guneratne.

The 10k was won by Tom Webb, with Anna Fake of Hitchin Running Club the first female finisher. Young Callum Turner won the 5k, with Ollie and Jake Holmes following in second and third.

Astrid Mckeown of North Herts Road Runners was the first female to cross the line in the Hitchin Hard Half. Picture: Alan Millard Astrid Mckeown of North Herts Road Runners was the first female to cross the line in the Hitchin Hard Half. Picture: Alan Millard

“What a fabulous day we had,” said Rotary Tilehouse president Andrew Phillips.

“My thanks go to all of you who contributed so much to ensure my charity for this year, North Herts Centre for Voluntary Service, will receive a donation of over £5,000.”

Paul Watson in his kangaroo-rider costume, with his family and friends. Picture: Alan MillardPaul Watson in his kangaroo-rider costume, with his family and friends. Picture: Alan Millard

Race director Tim Ray added: “It’s a lot of hard work – but seeing the sweaty, smiling faces at the end makes it all worthwhile.”

The colourful costumes on the day included the kangaroo-rider get-up sported by Paul Watson, and Claire Bradfield’s strawberry outfit. Ellen Tipping from The Pilates Pod directed the warm-up.

Members of the Hitchin Hard Half organising team. Picture: Alan MillardMembers of the Hitchin Hard Half organising team. Picture: Alan Millard

Runners taking part for good causes included Andrew Lawther, who raised funds for Bowel Cancer UK in memory of his best friend Simon Slater.

Simon – Andrew’s best man, and friend since they were four – developed bowel cancer about 15 years ago that spread to his liver. He rose from menial work to teach English as a foreign language at the Università Cattolica in Milan.

Leah Kenny was the second woman to complete the Hitchin Hard Half. Picture: Alan MillardLeah Kenny was the second woman to complete the Hitchin Hard Half. Picture: Alan Millard

In 2008, while Andrew was there visiting Simon, he died in his sleep. He was just 45 years old.

“Now 10 years later I am running the Hitchin Hard Half Marathon in Simon’s memory,” Andrew said beforehand.

Kristy Guneratne was the third lady home in the Hitchin Hard Half. Picture: Alan MillardKristy Guneratne was the third lady home in the Hitchin Hard Half. Picture: Alan Millard

“I am raising money for Bowel Cancer UK. I hope that the funds raised will to better treatment and education in order that other people can have better outcomes than my dearly missed friend.”

Other charity runners included Jennifer Cove and Tamara Eston, who took on their first half marathon in aid of two causes close to their hearts – down syndrome charity Sparkles, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.

Children enjoy playing during the Hitchin Hard Half. Picture: Alan MillardChildren enjoy playing during the Hitchin Hard Half. Picture: Alan Millard

Jennifer and Tamara chose Sparkles on behalf of a pregnant friend, whose baby has been screened positively for down syndrome.

They chose the JDRF in honour of Tamara’s husband and late sister-in-law, both of whom have been affected by Type 1 diabetes.

Hitchin Running Club members at the Hitchin Hard Half. Picture: Alan MillardHitchin Running Club members at the Hitchin Hard Half. Picture: Alan Millard

Jennifer and Tamara will split donations they receive evenly between the two charities.

To find out more about the Hard Half, see h3m.co.uk.

The start of the Hitchin Hard Half 10k. Picture: Alan MillardThe start of the Hitchin Hard Half 10k. Picture: Alan Millard

The start of the Hitchin Hard Half 10k. Picture: Alan MillardThe start of the Hitchin Hard Half 10k. Picture: Alan Millard

The start of the Hitchin Hard Half 10k.Picture: Alan MillardThe start of the Hitchin Hard Half 10k.Picture: Alan Millard

Hitchin Hard Half 10k winner Tom Webb. Picture: Alan MillardHitchin Hard Half 10k winner Tom Webb. Picture: Alan Millard

Anna Fake of Hitchin Running Club was the first female to finish in Hitchin's 'Tough 10k'. Picture: Alan MillardAnna Fake of Hitchin Running Club was the first female to finish in Hitchin's 'Tough 10k'. Picture: Alan Millard

The start of the Hitchin Hard Half 5k.Picture: Alan MillardThe start of the Hitchin Hard Half 5k.Picture: Alan Millard

The start of the Hitchin Hard Half 5k. Picture: Alan MillardThe start of the Hitchin Hard Half 5k. Picture: Alan Millard

Paul Watson running in a kangaroo-rider get-up. Picture: Alan MillardPaul Watson running in a kangaroo-rider get-up. Picture: Alan Millard

The start of the Hitchin Hard Half 5k. Picture: Alan MillardThe start of the Hitchin Hard Half 5k. Picture: Alan Millard

Hitchin Hard Half 5k winner Callum Turner, centre, second-placed Ollie Holmes, left and third-placed Jake Holmes, right. Picture: Alan MillardHitchin Hard Half 5k winner Callum Turner, centre, second-placed Ollie Holmes, left and third-placed Jake Holmes, right. Picture: Alan Millard

Strawberry-costumed Claire Bradfield at the Hitchin Hard Half. Picture: Alan MillardStrawberry-costumed Claire Bradfield at the Hitchin Hard Half. Picture: Alan Millard

Most Read

Latest from the The Comet

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists