What the Hastings Half Marathon means to me
When I was growing up in Hastings, the Half Marathon was already a big date in the calendar. It got loads of coverage in the local paper, the Scouts (which I was a member of) did the water stations and the whole town turned out. In short, it was a big event.
Through my young eyes it seemed very tough. The idea of running over 13 miles seemed impossibly difficult.
When I started running a few years ago, my folks’ place soon became a favourite running spot; they’d moved to Guestling, with the beautiful – if hilly – Country Park on their doorstep (in fact I blogged about it years ago). But even then, as I completed a number of other half Marathons, including Reading and the Great North Run, Hastings still seemed like a big one to chew off.
I signed up a few years ago, but then got injured. It remained a (mini) mountain, yet to be conquered.
Then, last year, I got a place and decided to have a crack. Jo was determined to run the Reading Half that year and, as they both fell on the same day, we ran our separate races.
That was in March. At that time, my Mum was a bit ill. She’d been given her first ‘clear’ in January having beaten her initial fight against cancer and, while we weren’t popping Champagne corks, we were hopeful that with a couple more clears under her belt, she would live a much longer, healthier life.
But she was ill again in January with a horrible cold that turned into pleurisy. As a chronic bronchitus sufferer and former smoker, her lungs were always her weakness and the pleurisy just never seemed to quite go away.
I remember seeing her on the morning of my run. She looked awful. I was worried, but she reassured me she was fine really, was yet to take her medication and just needed to wake up. And, after all, she’d only just been given a clear.
I went and ran my race. I’ve previously blogged my Hastings Half Marathon review, so won’t repeat myself. Suffice is to say that despite it being recognised as a bit of a gnarly course, I managed to pull something out of the bag and turned in a PB, running in at 1:52.21 (almost 10 minutes off my previous PB).
When I came home, my mum looked way better (I don’t know what she was taking at the time, but it did the trick – at least superficially) and she cooked me an enormous roast dinner – one of the classic Sunday meals I’d been brought up on. What a warm, comforting thing to come home to. It turned out to be the last Sunday dinner she cooked me. A month or so later she was in hospital with secondary cancer and then in St Michael’s Hospice, where she died.
So, when people ask, “why the Hastings Half?”, I usually say, it’s because it’s where I’m from, but in truth it’s because it means a lot to me and I have happy memories of it.
So, here’s to my mum, the Hastings Half Marathon – and celebratory roast dinners.
- Announcing a new challenge: extreme ironing the Hastings Half Marathon (theredbucket.co.uk)
- Why I am Extreme Ironing for St Michael’s Hospice (teamsteam.org)
- Extreme Ironing training video (teamsteam.org)