Runners Flock to Southend for Charity Half Marathon

More than 1,700 runners completed the Havens Hospices annual Southend Half Marathon this weekend.

Runners took on the 13.1 mile route on Sunday 9th June along Southend’s coastline, starting at Shoeburyness East Beach. There was also a 3K family fun-run in a bid to raise £100,000 for the charity which cares for seriously ill children, young people and adults within the home, in the community and at its two hospices.

The first wheelchair athlete across the line was Adam Goldspink-Burgess. The first male runner to finish was James Caldon of Benfleet Running Club followed by Ben Green from Benfleet Running Club and Christian Holmes from Southend AC.

The first three women to finish were Sara Black from London Heathside, Liz Wynn from Serpentine RC and Vicky McElligott from Leigh on Sea Striders. The first runner back from the 3K run was Isabel Tracey, 12 from Flyers Southend.

Many people ran for PB’s, for fun, in celebration or in memory. For Flyers Southend, they were remembering Nick Palmer who died after the run five years ago. Running club member and Trustee of The Finish Line Fund – the charity set up in his memory – is Lloyd Richardson. “Nick was just 37 when he died. He crossed the finish line but never picked up his medal. We will never forget that day and we will never forget Nick.” There was a minute applause by the club in celebration of Nick’s life.

Chris Ford’s running community, Fordy Runs, has only been established for a year but already has 5,000 members across the world, and 250 of them ran the Southend Half Marathon. He says,

“I was fed up of turning up to races by myself, so I created a community of people who come together at events like this and they’ve now made friends for life.

“I don’t live in the area now, but I grew up here so it’s great to be back and support such a wonderful charity.”

A familiar face returned to support the charity which helped care for her – a former Little Havens child. Emily Gahagan, nine from Shoebury, was cared for by the hospice from the age of three, shortly after she was diagnosed with Leukaemia. This summer, Emily will have been given the ‘all clear’ for five years. Mum Kelly says,

“I was dreading going to Little Havens because I though it meant she was going to die. But went I visited it was totally different to what I’d imagined. They gave me space and time to be a Mum again to Emily, allowing us to be a family.

Emily says, “I ran the Fun Run to raise money for help other children like me.”

Jo Pearce from Laindon is a regular runner at the Southend Half Marathon and dresses up every year. “I want to put a smile of people’s faces when I’m running around the course, especially for the children who come out to cheer us on.”

Jane Hopkins, Events Fundraiser at Havens Hospices, said,

“The day couldn’t have gone any better and it was great to see so many local people not only taking part but lining the route to cheer runners on. Every runner who has trained for this event and crossed that start line has helped our hospices to continue caring for local adults, young people, children and families when they need it most, and with their help we are well on our way to our £100,000 fundraising target.”

Jane added,

“This event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of so many local people and organisations. We’d like to thank all the volunteers including Shoebury Army Cadets who helped marshal the route, water stations and handing out medals, Southend Police, Runners Edge and Chris Phillips from the Echo for being our MC, also Thorpe Bay Marine, Roslin Hotel and Shorehouse Pub for hosting our water stations. A big thank you to our sponsors The Underfloor Heating Store and 3K Fun Run sponsors Flyers Southend.

“Thank you to Body Matters for providing sports massage and physiotherapy on the day, Mi-Things for the trophies created from recycled Bank Teller desks, Eat Natural for cereal bars, Accessmart for water and Meat & Two Veg in Hadleigh for bananas for every runner. And finally, all the runners, their families and friends who cheer them on; together, we’re ‘Making every day count’.”

If you’ve been inspired by the runners who took part or you took part on Sunday and are now looking for your next challenge, registration for the Chelmsford Marathon is now open, to find out more about the charity’s events please click here [].

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