Cross Pennine raider Patrick Gardiner has thrown down the gauntlet to runners on Humberside and announced he will return on Sunday 28 June to defend his Humber Bridge Half Marathon title. The East Cheshire Harrier, now based in Oldham, was a student in Hull and that plus the iconic course provided the motivation for the 200 mile round trip in 2014.
Despite monsoon-like conditions at the start and a tough course which crosses the Humber Bridge twice, Patrick clocked an impressive 1:13:34 last year and believes that with a year's further experience and better conditions he can lower that mark. However he recognises that with a course record of 1:07:05, held by Darren Bilton, the event can attract high quality athletes. Patrick also admits the recent arrival of his firstborn child, a boy, has interrupted his training but that he is currently averaging about 40 miles a week and remains optimistic about his chances.
A great experience in 2014 has prompted Patrick to return: "I really enjoyed it, even though it is out of the city centre there is still a good atmosphere, which proves how popular the race is in Hull. The fact that so many people go out to Hessle and Barton to watch it is great, there was a big crowd last year, even though the weather was terrible. It’s a good testing course with various inclines, the bridge, and then the big hill between nine and ten miles, which keeps it interesting."
Patick Gardiner will be joined by a 2,000 plus field on 28 June which will include last year's fastest female - Rachel Robinson (1:23:13) of Aldershot Farnham & District AC. A mixed field of experienced club runners, charity participants and first timers will enjoy Humberside's top half marathon with its landmark bridge crossings. An always healthy turnout is likely to be boosted by runners using the event as a staging post for the restored Hull Marathon in September.
Humber Bridge Half Marathon, run by the Hull and Barton Rotary Clubs, is supported by the Smile Foundation, and is now in its 16th year. The main charity beneficiary for 2015 is Downright Special. The charity with the most entries will benefit from an extra £1,000 cash boost provided by main sponsor Sargent Electrical and Smile.
Places are still available for the half marathon - details at the event website.