Going for gold with 30th half marathon

SUNDAY, June 12, promises to be a memorable day in the history of the St Albans Half Marathon.

It is the 30th birthday of the event which has been awarded Gold status by the British Association of Road Races (BARR) for the high standard of race organisation.

Five thousand competitors are expected to take part on the day and the event promises something for all the family.

As well as the main half marathon event there is the ever-popular one-and-a-half-mile fun run and 5K run. The shorter race remains a firm favourite with the primary schools, all competing for the coveted shield for the school with the most participants. SS Alban and Stephen School is still the one to beat!

All competitors receive an event t-shirt, medal and a welcome ice lolly. Local ice-cream firm owner Bernard Tominey donated lollies to the first-ever race in 1982 and the tradition has continued ever since. The half marathon is renowned in the running world for such a rare treat.

In the runners’ village there will be a climbing wall and children’s play area as well as refreshment stalls and a sportswear stand. This year there will also be a Zumba display.

There are physiotherapy facilities and Runners World Sports shop will be present to give gait analysis on the day.

Most Read

The whole event has come a long way since its inception in 1982 when local businessman and its founder, Phil Gibson, wanted to raise money for a hospital scanner following the death of his mother from breast cancer. Since that time it has raised almost �1 million for local and national charities.

The two beneficiaries this year are the Willow Foundation and Everyman.

Founded in 1999, Willow is a wish-granting charity for seriously ill 16-40 year olds and is the only charity catering purely for this age group while the St Albans group of Everyman was started in 1998 by Wendy Gough following the death of her son, aged 18, from testicular cancer.

Wendy tirelessly visits hundreds of schools around the country raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of the illness.

Of all the thousands of competitors who have taken part in the half marathon over the years there are three who have competed in all 29.

Local runner, Duncan Burgoyne, has a long history of half marathon and marathon running and has also completed the 80-mile South Down Way and 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne

Paula Wise, from Welwyn Garden City, ran her first St Albans race when she was just 17 years old.

She almost missed one year when she was due to give birth the same week as the race but fortuitously her baby arrived a week early so she took part only seven days after the birth showing true dedication.

Tony Crocker is an ex-resident of St Albans now living Gillingham, Kent, and this year he is taking on an extra challenge by walking the 60 miles from Gillingham to St Albans on the Friday before the race and then taking part in the walking half marathon on the day.

Details of the event can be found on our website www.stalbanshalfmarathon.co.uk

If you wish to speak to one of the team telephone 01727 827667.