Against the backdrop of bright winter sunshine and temperatures around the zero degree mark, the 28th Brighton Half Marathon took place on 25th February 2018. The event, one of the biggest fundraisers for the organising charity The Sussex Beacon, was considered a huge success. Out of the 8,811 people who finished the 13.1 mile-long race, the charity was proudly represented by 135 dedicated ‘Team Beacon’ runners. Their support and fundraising is an important source of income for the Sussex Beacon every year, which offers specialist care and support for men, women and families living with HIV.
Over the last three years, more than 500 Team Beacon runners have raised in excess of £80,000. Team Beacon 2018 featured a variety of loyal, established runners as well new members. One of Team Beacon’s newest recruits was Howard Middleton, former contestant on The Great British Bake Off, who put on his running shoes for this year’s Grand Hotel Brighton Half Marathon. We caught up with Howard after the event to find out all about his first ever race.
Q: Congratulations on completing the Brighton Half in 2 hours 06 minutes! How are you feeling today? Have the legs recovered?
H: I’m feeling fine, thanks! Much better than I did on the Sunday after the race when we were heading out to a cafe for some food, and I thought I was not going to make it with my sore legs.
Q: What made you sign up for your first ever half marathon?
H: We are usually in Brighton in February for my niece’s birthday and stay in the Grand Hotel. I went out for a morning run last year and got caught up in a crowd of people gearing up for the half marathon. When I returned to the hotel, the receptionist asked me I was doing the run today and I sheepishly said ‘no’. From that innocent conversation, I rashly resolved to do it next year.
Q: Why did you decide to run for Team Beacon this year?
H: My sister lives in Brighton and was quite concerned last year when she heard that the Sussex Beacon was going through a difficult time. She posted a campaign which caught my eye, and we both felt strongly that local charities and organisations should get the focus and support that they need to be able to carry on. The Sussex Beacon has historically been such a major player in organising the Half Marathon and is such a fantastic cause to run for, so it felt like a very natural choice for me to run for Team Beacon.
Q: Talk me through the race – what were the best/most challenging bits?
H: I was quite nervous about the incline towards Ovingdean, but I surprised myself and really enjoyed it. It was just such a beautiful part of the track, the view over the hills and sea was stunning, and I felt like I was achieving something by getting up there. I did find myself flagging a little bit on the way back to Hove, however, which was when my time started to creep up.
Q: How did you find the chilly but sunny weather conditions on race day?
H: I really didn’t mind the cold too much, it meant that we didn’t have to worry about overheating. I did appreciate how cold it must have been for the spectators though, I saw people holding lots of ‘Hurry up, it’s really cold here’ signs which kept us going. My partner Peter insisted that I put on some gloves, but I got too hot after 3 miles so had to take them off and then obviously carry them with me for the rest of the race. I actually finished the race clasping my gloves across the finish line.
Q: Have you got the running bug now? Will you do it again and try to beat your PB? Team Beacon 2019 is looking for runners!
H: I thought about it for 2-3 hours after the race, and then decided that I definitely do want to do it again. I’ll have another go at beating my PB next year and see if I can finish the race in under 2 hours!
© Bettina Zenz