In the winter of 1981 Barns Green Football Club asked Alan Train, the newly appointed Head of Muntham House School if they could use the school’s floodlit tennis courts for training. He agreed, and said that in the interests of promoting good relations with the local community there would be no charge.
The footballers very much appreciated this, and asked if there was anything they could do in return for the school. The Head said that they were always in need of various items of equipment and that at the moment they were hoping to acquire a camcorder.
One Sunday morning thirteen footballers, the Head and his two sons took part in a sponsored ten mile run which raised the necessary £350. Afterwards they celebrated in the Village Club, and it was at this time that it was decided to organise a Half Marathon sometime during the next year.
Members of the first Committee
David Francis, Roy Francis, Keith Hotchkiss, Jacqui Lilley, Bob Lilley, Roy McCormick, Paul Toms and Alan Train
The First Run
This was held in 1982 and attracted just over one thousand runners. The number of entries surprised the committee, and as entry was on the day there was an air of panic as a seemingly endless line of cars rolled into the village. Many members of the tennis club had volunteered to register runners and hand out pins and numbers but ten minutes before the start time it seemed an impossible task.
The committee had worked hard over many months to acquire a full road closure, but if it was to be ‘valid’ they would have to adhere rigidly to the timings.
The race was scheduled to start at eleven o’clock, but at three minutes to, athletes were either still registering or warming up in the grounds at Muntham.
(The start line was on the school’s boundary, and the grid stretched back towards the school.)
However when they heard an anxious plea to place themselves on the grid, they magically slipped into formation. With less than a minute to go and much to the relief of the committee all one thousand were ready to race.
The Race Motto
‘Vincit Qui Patitur’ (‘He who endures Conquers’) had been Alan Train’s personal motto, and the committee accepted his suggestion that it would be appropriate for such an event.
Following the first event in 1982 The President of Sussex County AAA wrote,
“Here we have a race initiated by a few local jogging enthusiasts ….blossoming in a short time to the largest road race in Sussex, respected for its efficient organisation and welcomed by joggers and AAA Club members alike.”
Results for the First Race
(1)John Leversedge 1hr 08mins 40 secs(1) Tracey Howard 1hr 19 min 55secs
(2)Peter Bidmead Ihr 10 mins 10secs(2) Mina Whitehead 1hr 35mins 59secs
(3)Gerard Merchant 1hr 11mins 51secs(3) Debbie Lingham 1hr 36mins 37secs
Veteran MenVeteran Women
Commander G.Wilson 1hr 17mins 21secsMargaret Averback 1hr 32min 02 secs
Men: Paul Toms (5th) 1hr 13mins 08secs
Women: Jackie Jeffers (743rd) 2hr 21mins 18secs