Spring sunshine greets the Worcester marathon runners at Sixways

Malvern Gazette: 1814589601 St Richards team line up before the Worcester Marathon and Half Marathon.ENDS1814589601 (5919322) 1814589601 St Richards team line up before the Worcester Marathon and Half Marathon.ENDS1814589601 (5919322)

RUNNERS filled the country lanes just outside the city on a sunny Sunday morning for the annual Worcester Marathon and Half Marathon.

The event was based at Worcester Warriors' Sixways stadium, and around 1,200 runners competed, tracing routes that took them through quiet villages such as Smite, Himbleton and Tibberton.

Rob Minton of Tempo Events, which organises the race, said: "We've got a good turnout, better than last year, the weather is good, sunny but not too warm, and I think everyone is enjoying it.

"About 200 of the runners are running for St Richard's Hospice, and we've already collected about £13,500, although we expect that to double when all the sponsorship money is in."

Well-wishers encouraged the runners as they passed through the villages and hamlets, and back at Sixways, a large crowd of friend and relatives had gathered around the finishing line, to cheer on their personal athletic heroes as they completed the final yards of the race.

Among those taking part were Gemma Jones, aged 29 of Cheltenham, the second female competitor to finish the half-marathon.

She said: "I'm in training for an iron man event in July, and this half-marathon is a really good part of my training. It's really well supported, which is good for the morale."

Just behind her was Lucy Walmsley, 42 of Bourton-on-the-Water, who said: "It was quite tough but it was good. The weather was warm but not too hot."

Alan Southwick, 37, a member of Worcester's Black Pear Joggers, who finished in 1:31:14, was one of those raising money for the hospice. He said: "My father-in-law Steven Mullen passed away and he was taken excellent care of by the hospice, which is why I am supporting it."

Fellow Black Pear Jogger Nick Andrews, 43, who described his time as "1:30-ish", said: "It's a good course and the camaraderie is good. Everybody helps each other along."

And Clive Andrews, 47 and another Black Pear Jogger, said: "I've done it every year since it started. It;s good race and people come out in the villages to cheer you along."

One competitor from from further away was Darren West of Harrogate, who has set himself the goal of running 52 half-marathons to celebrate his 52nd birthday this year, and to raise money for the Yorkshire-based Martin House Children's Hospice.

"I'm doing another one in Milton Keynes tomorrow," he said, moments after finishing the Worcester event.

"This one was a bit hilly, but a lovely course and the people are great," he said.

Marathon

Male

1 Stuart Leaney 2:40:00, 2 Chris Bacon 2:40:41, 3 Michael Kingsbury 2:45:18.

Female

1 Alison Boyle 3:21:43, 2 Caroline Hall 3:24:27, 3 Helena Eastham 3: 27:29.

Half-marathon

Male

1 James Bellward 1:15:56, 2 James Pearce 1:16:50, 3 Tom Kenderdine 1:18:41.

Female

1 Fiona Blackmore 1:28;14, 2 Gemma Jones 1:28:46, 3 Lucy Walmsley 1:29:57.

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