40th Half Marathon & 10K Run Sold Out Event Sees Runners Scramble for Places

Runners of all ages and abilities enjoyed the Half Marathon, 10k, 5k and 2k fun race on Sunday in the sunshine starting and finishing at Henley Rugby Club.

The Half Marathon and 10K events were sold out before, with some on the day runners having to wait to see if they could take part if others registered hadn’t turned up.

The course takes runners through the town, over Henley Bridge and into the countryside, returning along the Thames towpath; back through the town centre and out to “Heartbreak Hill” the famous mile long climb seen as a personal challenge by many runners. Following the descent, it’s a lovely flat run back to the Rugby Club.

The 10K race was won by Jess Gibbon from Rotherfield Greys, the first time a woman has won this event. Her time was 37:16 minutes beating the runner-up Will Thompson by 5 minutes.   Afterwards she said, “It’s quite fun sometimes to be able to beat the boys and show that actually us girls can do it, and can be as fast as the guys. I like to think I’m inspiring little girls as well, to show that they can run fast.  “I have never done this race before, and I didn’t actually enter online, I just turned up and they said, come back and we will see if we can get you a late entry, and they managed to. It was a last minute decision to do it really, but it’s a lovely course so I enjoyed it. I run for Reading Athletics Club, and have done since I was 14. I compete for them and do lots of cross country races through the winter, and then I try to do some local races as well, where I can.”

Chris Moseley, who was runner up last year in the Half Marathon won the event this year in 1:22.  He said, ““It’s getting quite warm out there now, and I know what the hill is like – it doesn’t get any easier. The real story today is not me, it’s my dad. He’s running his 40th Henley Half Marathon today. I am here to support him. I wasn’t expecting to finish first, so I’m delighted with that. I try and do a marathon a year, a few half marathons… I do love this course. It’s hard, but I love it. I was following some 5k runners for the first two miles, and they went off and did a shorter route, so I was on my own behind the lead bike. It was good, there was lots of support out there.”  Nicola Lee was the first woman home in the Half Marathon in a time of 1:32.  She added, “The hill was brutal, and I think there was a downhill straight after where I thought, just let the legs go, but I think I let them go a little bit too quickly and the downhill hurt them a lot too. I train a lot. I haven’t been training specifically for half marathons so I’m pretty pleased.”

The children’s fun run was won by Anna Bickerdike in 4:29.  Anna said, “It was really tiring. When I looked around I didn’t see many older children, so I thought there was a chance that I might win. I’m in the cross country team, but I’ve just got in.”

The 5K winners were Jack Bartle in a time of 18:52 and Lisa Steele in 22:35.  Jack said, “I saw it on Let’s Do This. I had a credit from someone else signing up for one of my races, so thought I would give it a go and see what happens. I’m at Reading Uni, but am originally from Norwich. I’m in the Reading Uni Athletics Club. This is my first time running this race. It was good. There were a few bits I was confused about but I figured it out as I was going. I’m happy.”  Lisa added, “It was nice running with the half marathon runners. They kind of drag me along. It was a nice day for it; I really enjoyed it. Part of my run club, everybody always runs it, so I thought I had better join in this year. Most of them are doing the half marathon, so shout out to Run Henley!”

Many runners were running for charity or for another reason.  Lottie Ely was running the 10K memory of Sammy Phillips who died in a car crash last year, aged just 19 with lots of family friends and school friends.  Lottie explained, “The twins, Jamie and Ben, came up with the idea that we were all going to do it in memory of Sammy. “It was okay. The hill was really hard, and I had to walk that bit, but the rest of it I ran. We did this 10 years ago for Sammy’s Dad, Ian, who died of cancer. We all wore a blue t-shirt with Ian’s face on it, and Sammy was part of that as well. So we decided, let’s do it again for Sammy. There’s quite a lot of sadness. Sammy used to do the 10K every year, so it was quite a big thing to take this on and do this in his honour. We all used to go to Trinity School, and Jo Lock used to be our running teacher, and there’s a few of us who went to school with Sammy at Trinity who are here today, and did running training with Jo Lock every single Wednesday and Saturday. It’s quite funny, there’s been a lot of things we have remembered today from her running training, and she ran it with us.”

Henley resident, Ben Hargreaves who was celebrating his birthday by running the Half Marathon with his friend Graham Bell. He said, “That was a great run.  Perfect conditions. Henley Run were out in full force with a great turnout.  I’ve done it before but the time today was my best.  Graham added, “A lot of people this year.  Very popular.  Ben couldn’t get in originally on the day.  We ran together and then I left him on the hill going up and then he caught me just by the speed camera coming into Henley.  He won.  I was little bit quicker and fitter than last year.  Running is not my game.”

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