Hundreds take on a humid Hitchin Hard Half Marathon
PUBLISHED: 17:54 24 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:54 24 June 2019
More than 500 runners competed in one of Hertfordshire's toughest and oldest road races yesterday.
The Hitchin Hard Half Marathon, organised by the Rotary Club of Hitchin Tilehouse, is an infamously hilly course that pushes runners to their limits.
Course manager Julian McDonald admitted that it's hard to find a flat stretch anywhere on the 13.1-mile route - which does go down as well as up, taking in the villages of Chalrlton, Gosmore and Preston.
Despite the recent threat of wet weather, the runners instead had humid conditions to contend with - but many still recorded some impressive finishing times.
Thomas Sauerwald won the men's half marathon with a time of one hour and 19 minutes, while Natalie Lawrence won the women's half in 1h 27m.
Organisers also put on an equally competitive 10k race - which saw James Fox finish first in 38 minutes, with Hannah Miles the first woman to cross the line in 46 minutes - and a 5k run aimed at families.
Tim Ray, race director and member of the Hitchin Rotary club, said: "It was a good day - it takes some organisnig with over 500 people out on the course, but being able to start in the glorious grounds of Hitchin Priory makes a difference."
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This year's event was in aid of Stand-by-me, a North Herts-based charity offering bereavement support to children and their families.
Ian Cotterill, the charity's chair of trustees, thanked the Rotary club for their support.
He added: "The loss of a loved one can be devastating for children and young people.
"It can create feelings of isolation which can lead to problems at school and home and, unless addressed, can limit their life chances.
"The work we do is therefore very important, and Stand-by-me has been successful in helping many such children and young people address these problems since its creation five years ago."
Stand-by-me's young ambassadors attended the event as race marshals and organised a mini-fun run for children.
The event was also supported by a number of businesses wanting to give something back to their community, including Lyndhurst Financial Management, Modern Networks, Integro and Ashleys accountants.
If you're interested in signing up for next year's race, held on June 21, you can find information at h3m.co.uk.
For more information about Stand-by-me, visit stand-by-me.org.uk.