Weary runners' (half) marathon effort!

HUNDREDS of runners were today nursing aches and pains after completing the first half marathon in Ipswich for 20 years.

HUNDREDS of runners were today nursing aches and pains after completing the first half marathon in Ipswich for 20 years.

More than 650 keen athletes looked weary but happy as they crossed the finishing line yesterdayand received their medals.

Spectators, including the participants' families and friends, lined the gruelling 13.1 mile circular course across the town, which started and finished at Northgate Sports Centre in Sidegate Lane West, cheering and clapping as runners went past.

The first five men and first five women to cross the finishing line were presented with a certificate at the winner's podium by dignitaries including mayor of Ipswich David Goldsmith and leader of Ipswich Borough Council, Liz Harsant.

The first person to cross the finishing line in a wheelchair was Brian Alldis from Bury St Edmunds, who completed the challenge in 52 minutes.

The winner of the men's race was Adrian Mussett, who finished in 1hr 10mins, and the first woman to cross the line was Sarah Stradling in 1hr 19mins. Both are from the Colchester Harriers.

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The oldest man to complete the course was 80-year-old Eric Daykin, from Chantry, who managed to get round the course in an impressive 2hrs 43mins.

Speaking after finishing, Mr Daykin, who was not even out of breath, said: “I have done loads of half marathons and 11 whole marathons. I've been running for 27 years now and got hundreds of medals. I train about five days a week.

“Apart from a sore leg, I am fine. I need to do a jog when I get home to loosen it up.”

St Elizabeth Hospice and Team Ipswich Sports Foundation were the two nominated charities of the event, which was jointly organised by Team Ipswich and Ipswich JAFFA running club.

Terry Back, race director, said: “It has gone quite well considering it is the first time we have done it. Everyone seemed to be smiling as they finished and I think most people found it enjoyable.

“We have been blessed with the weather and had lots of volunteers helping us so we are pleased with how it has gone.

“We only hope it grows and improves next year.”

Larking Gowen, chartered accountants and business advisors, are the race sponsors up until 2012.

See tomorrow's Evening Star for a four-page half marathon picture special.

Were you a participant and enjoyed it? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Work friends Kristen Hodgson, 31, and Mark Sayer, 19, from Ipswich, both completed the course in under two hours.

Mr Hodgson, of Kemble Street, said: “It was difficult. We have been training together but been running 13 miles on flat ground, and this was quite a hilly course so it was hard. It was quite hot, too. We are going to celebrate with a beer now.”

Mr Sayer, of Palmcroft Road, added: “I've only been training for two months and it was my first half marathon.”

Faye Smith, 27, a member of Ipswich JAFFA running club, said: “I really enjoyed it. It is nice to run around your own area and see familiar faces.

“I hope it inspires more people to run.”

Six-year-old Oliver Chamberlain added that he was “very proud” of his mummy, Karen Chamberlain, another Ipswich JAFFA member, who managed to complete the tough course.

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