The very first Jâ€™s Hospice Chelmsford Marathon, held on Sunday 19th October really was â€˜a small charity making a big differenceâ€™ – Â with thousands of spectators lining the route, almost 2,000 registered runners, over 300 volunteers on the day and a host of performers making the day memorable for the supporters as well as the runners, it really was a runaway success!
The race was started by high-profile charity fundraiser Lloyd Scott, who â€˜ranâ€™ the London Marathon in a 130lb Diving Suit over 6 days. The Marathon route took in Central Park, Admirals Park, Bell Meadows, Tower Gardens, the village of Writtle and Hylands Park in a double-lapped course. Due to the typically English October weather and the teeming rain in the days leading up to the Marathon, a minor change was made to the course at the eleventh hour, due to health and safety concerns, but the feedback from the runners was almost universally (and overwhelmingly) positive.
Our last registered runner, Paul Martelletti, 35, who was the first man over the line with a time of two hours, 39 minutes and 50 seconds, said:
â€œIt was a varied route with a really interesting course. As a runner you need that to keep you going and I loved the ups and the downs. There was incredible crowd support and I enjoyed every minute of it!â€
Our oldest runner on the day was a very respectable 77, we had a blind gentleman take part with a â€˜buddyâ€™ and though a couple ran in fancy dress and we had a lady runner bravely carrying her weight loss equivalent in a rucksack, many were serious or professional runners trying to better their personal best.
â€œIt was a really enjoyable event and a great day. Thank you. I shall be keeping eye out for next year’s event.â€
Su Harrison of Heart FMâ€™s Breakfast Show finished the Marathon in a very respectable 5 hours, 24 minutes â€“ and was full of praise for the course, the marshalls and the incredible support shown by the people along the route â€œespecially those watching in Writtle â€“ they gave us sweets and cheered!â€
After a week of heavy rain and strong winds, the sun shone and it was a warm and bright day for the Marathon, ensuring that not only the runners enjoyed a clear run, but families also came out to make it a real community event â€“ with free runners from Team Kinetix, Jesters Show Choir, the Hylands School jazz band and Soul Sensations, the Essex Marching Corps and, cheering the winners home, cheerleaders the ARU Sirens, there was entertainment all day!
Entertainment also came in an unexpected form â€“ in the afternoon runner Carl Easton asked The Jâ€™s to call up volunteer Diana Baker onto the stage, only to propose marriage to her in front of the huge crowd. Luckily she said yes, making it a memorable day for them in more ways than one!
Paul Martelletti came in 1st place â€“ with an astonishingly good time of 2 hours, 39 minutes and a very strong lead! Paul is representing Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the World 100km Championships in Doha in November â€“ and admitted that the Chelmsford Marathon was â€˜great practice!â€™
Second place went to Crispian Bloomfield,Â 38, from Brentwood with a time of 2 hours, 49 minutes, while 39-year-old Robert Small from London finished 3rd with 2 hours, 52 minutes.
The first woman across the line was Nikki Brockbank, a Chelmsford local who runs with the Springfield Striders, finished with a fantastic time of 3 hours and 13 minutes.
42-year-old Anita Cox from Great Dunmow came 2nd with 3 hours, 29 minutes and Charlie Jennings, 40, from Rayleigh was the third woman across the line seconds later.
All runners received a medal and a goody bag but the three fastest men and women were also presented with a trophy onstage by record-breaking marathon runner Fiona Oakes, who managed to inspire both the runners and spectators with her extraordinary achievements.
Already there have been many enquiries from runners and potential runners alike about the possibility of this becoming an annual event;
â€œThank you for an amazing marathon experience! Loved the volunteers! Always made sure I said thank you, will it be back next year?â€
In response, The Jâ€™s had the following to say;
â€œThe Jâ€™s Hospice have been delighted by the overwhelming support we have received from runners, supporters, families and spectators on the day, as well as companies keen to support a local event and through it, a local charity helping young adults in Essex. The success of this year means that we are keen to build on this to make it an annual event for the great city of Chelmsford!â€
Nikki Perry, Communications Manager, The Jâ€™s Hospice
Of course this was a fundraising event for The Jâ€™s Hospice, intending to provide funding to continue providing our care and respite services to young adults (aged 16-40) across Essex who are suffering from life limiting or life threatening illnesses. Although all the sponsorship hasnâ€™t come in yet, we are anticipating a total of Â£80,000 raised, which will make a huge difference to the lives of our patients.
â€œWe would like to send a sincere and heart-felt thank you to all those that raised this extraordinary sum of money for us â€“ putting on an event of this size has been a real struggle for such a small charity so seeing others work so hard to raise funds and then run this incredible distance has been inspirational to us all.â€
Sue Upton, Director of Fundraising
There are so many people to thank in putting together an event of this size; first, our main sponsor, M&G Investments, without whom a lot of the event would not have been possible. We have also been lucky enough to have received support and advice from the following fantastic partners; Heart FM, Via Wire, Beaulieu Park, High Chelmer, Eat Natural, Win Fresh, Anglia Ruskin, Pret-a-Manger, Nuffield Health, Essex Landrover Club, Clear Cut Engraving, Clive Hopkinson and Karl Cadman of UK Athletics, Pill Box Pharmacy, Fiona Oakes, Chelmsford City Council Parks, Big Yellow Storage, Tesco, Ladies Circle, Chelmsford Round Table, Best of Chelmsford, Hog Roast, Mollys Lollys, Sweet Ideas, Britvic, Essex and Suffolk Water, Capespan International Ltd and Essex Highways.
Companies that support charities in this way enable us to spend money on more of the essentials and focus fully on raising funds that go directly towards patient care.
We have also had incredible support from the community, with almost 300 volunteers turning up on the day – not to mention their tireless efforts in advance, preparing for the Marathon. The J’s would like to extend our heart-felt thanks and appreciation for such a huge level of commitment from so many caring individuals.