2016 Nuffield Health Kingston Run Challenge Race Report
11th October 2016
On the day it was announced that organisers Human Race were to take the next step in their history after being purchased by Tour de France owners A.S.O., it was apt that one of their oldest and most loved events was held – the Nuffield Health Kingston Run Challenge. Since 1991 this fast and flat run has taken place every October, and the passion and determination shown by over a thousand people proves there is still plenty of life left in this event to keep it going for another few decades.
The event gives runners a late season opportunity to take on the traditional 8.2 mile course which starts in Kingston’s Ancient Market Square, before heading to Hampton Court, through Thames Ditton and Surbiton, before returning home. Options available this year were one lap (8.2 miles), two laps (16.2 miles) and three plus a bit laps (full 26.2 mile marathon). As runners gathered on the start line outside the Rose Theatre there were many pleasant noises made about the weather, which was crisp and bright with little to no wind. The team from Nuffield Health performed an energising pre-race routine to get everybody limbered up, and then our 1000+ runners were off and over Kingston Bridge to take on their challenge.
After the usual initial jostling for position early on, things soon spread out as the participants took to the beautiful riverside towpath. Many decided sensibly to stick with one of the pacers, who were running at minute per mile intervals, as well as offering verbal support and advice to those around them. Science in Sport provided top quality nutrition gels for competitors at three points on the course, alongside the usual liquid refreshment, which many took without breaking stride to ensure they didn’t lose any crucial seconds off their finish time. Special arrangements had been put in place along the Portsmouth Road to allow runners to run without intrusion on the second half of the lap, and many took advantage, spreading out and stretching their legs further.
Many of those taking part were raising money for the event’s official charity, the Kingston Hospital Dementia Appeal. A local cause, which has been part of the Nuffield Health Kingston Run Challenge story since 2015.
First back to cross the line and take the glory in the 8.2 mile race was Daniel Best, who paced himself perfectly to finish in just 47 minutes and 47 seconds. He was narrowly ahead of Matt Jiggins (48:06) and David Nortal (49:39). Speaking shortly afterwards a recovering Dan said “It was a close battle, but I just managed to pip Matt at the end. David had set the pace most of the way around so it was between the three of us and I got it”. In the female category it was Becca Neale who crossed the line first in an impressive 56:25, with Kate Macharg and Caroline Ridgway following less than a minute behind.
16.2 miles can be a tough distance to judge correctly, but Simon Barrett’s speedy final quarter saw him open a gap on the opposition, and he flew over the line in 1:35:23, doing Serpentine Running Club proud. Daniel Stauber who had been toe to toe with Simon most of the way, had to settle for second on this occasion, despite a great time of 1:36:10. Completing the podium places was Jonathan Lane.
Isobel Rae of ‘West 4 Harriers’ was our female winner, completing the course in 1:53:09, and even managing a smile (or possible a smile-like grimace) on the final sprint home. This was again a case of having more in the tank for the final push, as Laura Hales, who eventually finished second just 28 seconds behind, was alongside Isobel for the majority of the race. Marie Synnott-Wells was the only other female to clock a sub two-hour time on the day, and that confirmed her third place.
The Nuffield Health Kingston Marathon was arguably the highest profile race of the day, and it soon became obvious that it would be the most clear cut too. Richard Marriott comfortably took the opposition apart, leading the way from start to finish, to take the title in a brilliant 2:34:26. Speaking to the audience after he had crossed the line to great applause he said “That was tough. I want to thank the pacer on the first lap on the bike, and also the lead bike at the end, they helped keep me going.” Richard also confirmed that was his first ever marathon win, but surely not his last, after a blistering performance. Oliver Bowers (Stragglers) was second place on the day in 2:49:44, with Sebastien Betouret third in 2:50:39.
We had another clear winner in the female marathon, with Lindy-Lee Folscher completing the entire 42km course in an amazing 3:01:17. Ruth Willis (second) and Laura York (third) took the other prizes on the day thanks to strong performances. Young Laura had also made the most of the excellent pacing team, and that seemed to keep her on track for a late surge.
Whilst the winners will, quite rightly, take many of the headlines, one of the biggest cheers of the day was reserved for another marathon finisher. First time marathon runner Chris Young started at 8am, and was on the course longer than any other runner on the day. After lots of hard work and determination Chris returned to the Ancient Market Square for a hero’s welcome, with crowds gathering to cheer him on. He crossed the line after 5 hours and 11 minutes hard work, claiming his much deserved Nuffield Health Kingston Run Challenge medal, and the kudos of forever being a marathon conqueror.
In the event village all our finishers were offered a massage or help stretching from the Nuffield Health team, with the local fitness centre in Surbiton also opening its doors to all runners for free so they could take a warm shower and relax after all their hard work.
Speaking at the conclusion of the run, Event Director Matt Brooke said “We’d like to thank everybody who came to join us in Kingston today. We were hugely impressed by the standard throughout, with the times recorded extremely fast, even taking into consideration the flat route. We had a lot of fun, and we hope to see many of the runners again in the future”.
Next up for Human Race it’s another run in South West London, this time one that all the family can be involved in, the Trick or Treat Run. This 2k, 5k and 10k is a lot of fun on closed roads, so do get a group together and come down on Sunday 30th October.