Hackney Half Marathon: 11,000 runners take on annual race around borough
- Credit: 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.
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.
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.”
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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.
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“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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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!”
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.
“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!