Spencer wins Halstead Marathon while Stretton sets a female best

Jackie Stretton approaches the finish of the Halstead Marathon. She was first lady, breaking the co

Jackie Stretton approaches the finish of the Halstead Marathon. She was first lady, breaking the course record in the process. Picture: KARL HILLMAN - Credit: Archant

Matt Spencer, of Bungay Black Dog, tasted victory at the 24th staging of the Halstead Marathon, which also incorporated the Essex County Marathon Championships last Sunday morning.

Runners waiting at the start-line for Sunday's Halstead Marathon. Picture: NICOLE SMITH

Runners waiting at the start-line for Sunday's Halstead Marathon. Picture: NICOLE SMITH - Credit: Archant

Often this race is held in very hot conditions, but the weather was almost perfect for running last weekend, following some overnight rain.

Spencer led home the field in a winning time of 2hrs 40mins 46secs, followed by runner-up Stephen Peck, of Harwich Runners, who clocked 2:44:20. Third spot went to Chris Burgoyne, from Springfield Striders, with 2:45:11.

It was a great day for Springfield Striders’ Jackie Stretton, because she broke the female course record on her way to the ladies’ title in a swift 3:00:42.

Rachel Sweatt, of Witham Running Club, who is in superb form at the moment, celebrated second place in 3:06:59. Third lady was Melissah Gibson, of Ealing Eagles Running Club, in 3:12:59.


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The event, as ever, was organised by Halstead Road Runners, and there were some impressive personal bests set and also some county medals secured by the host club.

James Smith was eighth overall and the first Halstead Road Runner in 2:54:41, followed by Gavin Allen in 10th with 2:57:16. Allen claimed the Essex County silver medal in the over-40 category.

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Nathan Roulson, who has a long history of supporting the marathon, both behind the scenes and on the road, cut 10 minutes off his previous best to finish in 3:14:37. This meant that Halstead’s leading trio came away with the Essex County silver medals in the team section.

There were also county medals for Rachael Roughan, who claimed bronze in the female over-35 age group by setting a PB of 3:48:50, and club marathon legend, Andy Wilmot, who took silver in the male over-70 category in a time of 4:20:46.

Other Halstead results included Tom Porter (3:24:26), Steve May, who knocked 14 minutes off his previous best with 3:41:03, and Jon Greenley, who also recorded a PB of 3:41:18.

Michael Longman, a Halstead marathon regular, crossed the line in 3:54:06, while Cat Bennison finished in 4:07:42 and Sam Wolton wasn’t far behind in 4:11:31. Dan Cole, who wasn’t feeling his best, registered 4:35:04.

Rosie Atkins had an enjoyable race, running with some ladies from Halstead Boxing Club. She finished in 5:06:23.

Overall, there were 374 finishers and the Club hopes to see many of them back next year to mark the 25th anniversary of the race, which is sure to be something special.

The Mayor, Shirley Diver, handed out the medals.

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