As ever, ‘The Village with a Heart’ was alive with music accompanying the food and fund raising stalls.
After an energetic group warm up session, the half marathon was started by busy Horsham MP, Jeremy Quin, who told the County Times: “It is wonderful to see people out and about again at local events – especially at one like this.”
Mr Quin led the pre-race applause marking the ill-timed passing of popular race committee stalwart Den Critchley, whose family were supporting the races, daughter Ally Baker having been among the organisers setting up the day at around 6am before going on to run.
The cavalry charge of runners headed off, with John Booker in the field again – the only man to have run every half marathon since the inaugural race in 1983, even completing the course when the event was cancelled in 1986 because of the ‘hurricane’. John quipped: “My aim is just to get round – Covid has made me a bit lazy!”
With the half marathon well under way the 10K race set off - following a different course – both races taking place along undulating scenic routes with closed roads.
Paul Navesey of City of Portsmouth AC romped home in one hour, 10 minutes and 30 seconds, looking remarkably fresh, repeating his 2019 half marathon win, saying: “I was two minutes slower, but I’m pleased with my run, and it was good to participate with my (second-placed) training partner Neil Boniface again.”
The first lady home was Brighton & Hove’s Arena AC’s Dani Tarleton, who took the lead soon after the start.
Earlier Patrick Martin – an individual runner from Cranleigh - was serenaded home with jazz at the 10K tape in 32.47, telling us: “I’m a regular runner, but this was my first time here and it is a difficult course, especially the uphill finish!”
Sophie Gunning, also not representing a club, was the fastest lady, winning on her third visit, saying: “The course is fine, but that final hill is a killer!”
The races again raised money for the wonderful local St Catherine’s Hospice, as well as supporting the 17 local and junior organisations, societies and clubs helping to organise the event on the day with the army of magnificent marshals and volunteers.
Race director Nigel Currie said: “A number of spring events have been transferred to autumn because of the pandemic, so there have been inevitable clashes, but we’re delighted to be back with 700 entrants in each race, and the weather was kind again.”
Please make a diary note – the 2022 races will be on Sunday, September 25.
Meanwhile, the County Times sends best wishes to Race Chairman Vernon Jennings, wishing him a full and speedy recovery.