Veteran Local Runner Revisits Winning Route for Southend Half Marathon 2020

A Leigh runner is tying up his laces once again to take part in this year’s Southend Half marathon – 22 years after he won the race.

Terry Knightley, 59, is a member of the Ilford Athletic club and has been running marathons in the UK and abroad for the past 35 years. He first ran the Southend Half Marathon back in June 1998, breaking the course record with a quick time of 1 hour, 13 minutes and 38 seconds.

To mark the 25th anniversary, Havens Hospices has been speaking to previous winners about their experiences competing in the event.

Terry, a personal trainer at David Lloyd in Basildon, said “Southend Half Marathon is such a prestigious race and when you win big races it is really special. The race used to incorporate part of the A127 and the start and finish at Garons Tennis and Leisure Centre. In 1998, I remember everyone clapping and cheering as I turned into the track and it was when the adrenaline kicked in as I started sprinting towards the finish line. I was so proud when local British Olympian and Commonwealth Champion Rob Denmark awarded me the trophy, it was such a great experience and definitely one of the highlights in my running career.”

Terry has run the Southend Half Marathon six times and was awarded trophies in 1998 (overall winner), 1999 (2nd place), 2000 (2nd place), 2007 (Mens team, 3rd place) and in 2009 (1st male over 40). Terry is very excited to be participating in the 25th Anniversary race along with friends, clients and Club members. Terry is training hard to do well in the Veteran Over 50 category and hopes to finish in just under 90 minutes this year.

His advice for anyone taking part in the Southend Half Marathon for the first time is: “Always respect the distance and make sure you train for a half marathon – I say to people ‘train hard, race easy’. On the day, you may think you are the only person who is nervous and hurting, but everyone is, so it is important to remember to keep your pace and concentrate on your race.”

Over a long and dedicated running career, Terry has participated in over a thousand road and cross-country races. Amongst his many accolades he has represented Essex, won 63 Essex County individual and team medals, achieved a personal best of 2 hours and 34 minutes in the London Marathon, gained a bronze medal in the Reykjavik Marathon in Iceland and in 2010 he was the 1st Age 50 veteran in The Great North Run.

Terry is an enthusiastic member of the local and tourist Parkrun community and is fast heading towards his 250th Parkrun milestone. He is a true supporter of Havens Hospices and for many years raised funds with Phoenix Striders running club at the Little Havens 5K run.

Describing how running has changed over the years he said, “Running was different 30 years ago – it was highly competitive but now it’s much more inclusive and it’s great to see so many novice runners getting involved.

“Before the internet, it was hard to find races so you would go to the ones you already knew about or maybe spot a poster in a shop window. There would always be spaces available, now races can sell out in minutes.

“Another thing that has changed is the way results of races are published – back when I first started racing you would place 50p in an envelope and give it to the organisers so they could post your results to you, normally weeks later”.

The Southend Half Marathon has been attracting thousands of runners from across the county – and across the world – for a quarter of a century. Originally organised by the Vestall Vergins Running Club in aid of Little Havens and Fair Havens, it was at one point called the Jim Peters Half Marathon in honour of the athlete who hailed from Thorpe Bay.

Since then, the event has raised in excess of £1.1 million for Havens Hospices and is an established fixture in the local running calendar.

The 25th Southend Half Marathon is organised by Havens Hospices and takes place on 14th June, starting at East Beach, Shoeburyness. The event raises money for the Essex based charity which provides palliative care and support to adults, children and their families.

If you are runner and would like to take part in the Southend Half Marathon, please click here for more information.

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Terry holding his trophies from Southend Half