No stopping Sarah Stradling

SARAH Stradling retained her title at the second Colchester Half-Marathon, which attracted a field of more than 1,000 runners.

The race was staged over a new one-lap course through the town centre, and out to the villages of Langham and Boxted villages, which provided a tough challenge.

Certainly the new route preserved its reputation for encouraging fast times, despite the steep climb into the town centre and a long uphill drag from the centre to the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

The race started and finished at the Stadium, which is home to Colchester United FC.

Long distance specialist Stradling, of Colchester Harriers, clocked a winning time of 1hr 17mins 42secs for the 13.1-mile route.

She finished nearly four minutes clear of runner-up Debbie Appleton, of Havering Mayesbrook, and was only beaten by six men.

Louise Hampshire, of Sudbury Joggers, was fourth lady in 1.28.10 as Suffolk athletes also crossed the border to tackle the half-marathon.

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Stradling’s Colchester club-mate, Adrian Mussett, was unlucky to come up against talented runner Kevin Skinner, of Newham & Essex Beagles, in the men’s race.

Skinner tasted victory in 1hr 08mins 10secs, with veteran Mussett still running an impressive time of 1.10.33 in second.

Mussett was a member of the winning Harriers’ men’s team, which also comprised Wesley Benton, who was fifth in 1.14.01, David Wright (33rd in 1.24.03) and Arthur Whiston (42nd in 1.26.05).

It was an amazing performance from 60-year-old Whiston, who won his age group in a personal best time.

In fact, the Harriers could boast the leading three over-60’s home. John Wheatley (1.37.25) and John Driscoll (1.41.32) joined Whiston in this category.

Other Harriers to record PBs were Andy Raynor (1,29,49) and Ellie Mayne (1.33.54), the latter knocking 11 minutes off her best to finish eighth lady.

Meanwhile, five members of Tiptree Road Runners set PBs. Paul Mingay lead the way with a superb run of 1.19.41 to lower his previous best by around two minutes. He was 12th overall and second over-50 veteran.

James Haskey-Jones posted another fast run of 1.24.03 in 35th spot, while Paul Dellar took two minutes off his best with 1.31.42. Stuart Meddeman (1.35.28) and Mark Lawes (1.42.28) also set PBS, and there was a good half-marthon debut from Matt Davey (1.43.33).

A big party of 22 Witham Running Club members were also in action, led by James Farren, who set a big PB of 1.22.36.

Other Witham PBs were celebrated by Lee Pembroke (1.33.23), Wendy Martin (1.42.12), Paul Hedger (1.45.42), Anita Grainger (1.57.21), Tracey Denby (2.13.36), Kerry Manning (2.16.56) and Paula Edwards (2.18.52).