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Hackney Half Marathon: 11,000 runners take on annual race around borough

PUBLISHED: 13:54 30 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:14 04 May 2017

Hackney Winter Night Shelter runners and supporters after a team of 50 completed today's Hackney Half for the homelessness charity. Picture: Hackney Winter Night Shelter/Gemma Harvey

Hackney Winter Night Shelter runners and supporters after a team of 50 completed today's Hackney Half for the homelessness charity. Picture: Hackney Winter Night Shelter/Gemma Harvey

Hackney Winter Night Shelter/Gemma Harvey

Three runners from the Hackney Gazette were among thousands who tackled the Hackney Half Marathon this morning to raise money for charity, challenge themselves, or simply have fun.

Sir Richard Branson (centre) watches the race. Picture: Tom Nicholson/Rex/ShutterstockSir Richard Branson (centre) watches the race. Picture: Tom Nicholson/Rex/Shutterstock

Sales manager Patrick Dunne, account manager Peter Bailie and nature columnist Will McCallum joined runners of all ages and abilities on a circuit of the borough that began and ended at a huge “fitness festival” on the marshes. A 5.5km run and a walking challenge were among the other attractions for those who didn’t want to take on the full race.

Some 20,000 runners and spectators were at this year’s event, according to the organisers. An estimated 11,000 entered the 13.1-mile course, which took in sights such as Hackney Downs and Hackney Empire.

Success: Patrick, Peter and Will from the Gazette celebrate finishing the Hackney Half Marathon. Picture: Joe SutherlandSuccess: Patrick, Peter and Will from the Gazette celebrate finishing the Hackney Half Marathon. Picture: Joe Sutherland

Our three Gazetters joined nearly 50 others raising money for Hackney’s Winter Night Shelter, which helped 100 people in need before closing for the season on March 31. Chair of trustees Andrew Hudson was there to cheer them on, saying the cash could help them expand.

“We’ll be using the money to strengthen what we do for homeless people in Hackney,” he said. “It’ll enable us to provide a wider range of services and look at options like keeping the centre open for longer.”

Paul Whittaker was the fastest runner in this year's Hackney Half Marathon, with a time of 1.06.55. Picture: Tom Nicholson/Rex/ShutterstockPaul Whittaker was the fastest runner in this year's Hackney Half Marathon, with a time of 1.06.55. Picture: Tom Nicholson/Rex/Shutterstock

Will led the Gazette team, clocking an impressive 1h35m around the course - even though a last-minute bicycle puncture meant he had to run to the starting line and still ended up 15 minutes late.

“Everybody needs a bed when it’s cold,” he said, “and Hackney Winter Night Shelter are doing an amazing job making sure the least privileged people in our neighbourhood have just that.

Gazette runner Peter Bailie shakes hands with Hackney Winter Night Shelter chair of trustees Andrew Hudson after completing the Hackney Half. Picture: Hackney Winter Night Shelter/Gemma HarveyGazette runner Peter Bailie shakes hands with Hackney Winter Night Shelter chair of trustees Andrew Hudson after completing the Hackney Half. Picture: Hackney Winter Night Shelter/Gemma Harvey

“It was a pleasure to run for their team and I only wish I could have raised more money for them.”

Peter managed 1h42m – made even more impressive by the fact he’d never run more than 10km before – while Patrick achieved his target of beating the two-hour mark, coming in at 1h58m.

Isabel Clark was the fastest woman with a time of 1.18.15. Pictured with Sir Richard Branson. Picture: Tom Nicholson/Rex/ShutterstockIsabel Clark was the fastest woman with a time of 1.18.15. Pictured with Sir Richard Branson. Picture: Tom Nicholson/Rex/Shutterstock

Also taking part on the day were the Halley House Hawks – a group of Halley House School parents who were running to raise money to fund playground equipment for the Dalston school.

Claire Syms, who is headteacher of the Dalston school, said: “I know I speak on behalf of all the staff and particularly the children at Halley House School when I say how proud we are of our Halley Hawks and their fantastic fundraising efforts.

Hackney Winter Night Shelter runners after completing the Hackney Half. Picture: Hackney Winter Night Shelter/Gemma HarveyHackney Winter Night Shelter runners after completing the Hackney Half. Picture: Hackney Winter Night Shelter/Gemma Harvey

“The £2,500 funding will make a big difference to the outdoor provision on site and we really look forward to seeing our new playground.”

It’s the first year Virgin Sport has been involved with the event, after buying out Vitality who hosted last year’s.

The starting line. Picture: Tom Nicholson/Rex/ShutterstockThe starting line. Picture: Tom Nicholson/Rex/Shutterstock

Sir Richard Branson fired the starting gun alongside Charlie Dark of running collective Run Dem Crew.

Paul Whittaker and Isabel Clark recorded the best times in the race, with times of 1h6m and 1h18m respectively.

The Hackney Winter Night Shelter supporters at the third mile of the Hackney Half. Picture: Hackney Winter Night Shelter/Gemma HarveyThe Hackney Winter Night Shelter supporters at the third mile of the Hackney Half. Picture: Hackney Winter Night Shelter/Gemma Harvey

“It’s just outside my personal best, but I’m happy,” said Paul. “The event is just so massive – there’s so much going on.

“I’m going to stay for some food and a dance!”

The race begins. Can you see yourself? Picture: Tom Nicholson/Rex/ShutterstockThe race begins. Can you see yourself? Picture: Tom Nicholson/Rex/Shutterstock

Isabel said: “It was a great course, so much crowd support, really enjoyable and a personal best – can’t complain really!”

Virgin Sport CEO Mary Wittenberg praised the festival’s “amazing local partners” Charlie Dark, Chevy Rough from Chasing Lights Collective, Fat Buddha Yoga and Hackney Council.

Members of the Halley House School team who completed the Hackney Half Marathon on Sunday.Members of the Halley House School team who completed the Hackney Half Marathon on Sunday.

“This is our first year in Hackney and the response has been fantastic,” she said. “We will be in the community throughout the coming year inspiring movement and can’t wait for next year!”

You can still sponsor the Gazette team here. Any cash raised by Peter and Patrick will be matched by the Gazette’s publisher Archant.

Did you take part? Send in your snaps and stories and you could see them in Thursday’s Gazette!

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