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.

The start of the Half: picture courtesy of Hastings Half Marathon

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.

Phil at the end of the Hastings HalfBut 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.

Mum's roast dinner at the end of the Half Marathon. Lovely.


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2 Responses to “What the Hastings Half Marathon means to me”
  1. med says:

    A beautiful memory beautifully shared. I have to ask if the photo is of one of your genuine home made roasts … it is mighty! You are doing such a wonderful thing in running this year to raise funds for the hospice. I only met your lovely mum a handful of times but I’m pretty confident she’d be deeply proud of you. The love you have for each other shines through each time you speak of her… I imagine you were a blessing to each other.

    Anything you need or want done for the marathon just say and it will be done. We want to support you and your cause in any way that we can. All the best for you training my friend, what ever time you run this year it can be considered nothing less than a personal best.

    • Steam says:

      Thanks for your kind words Med – it means a lot. Yes, that pic is the genuine last supper roast dinner. See the Yorkie Puds almost toppling off from a height!

      Yes please to your help on the day – we’d love to iron outside your house. Will be in touch offline to let you know more about what we’re hoping to do.

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