FLEET MARATHON CELEBRATES 40 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

ANNUAL EVENT THIS SUNDAY

by For Fleet's Sake
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MARATHON CELEBRATES 40TH ANNIVERSARY

The Berkeley Homes Fleet Half Marathon is back on Sunday after an enforced absence due to the covid pandemic. The event began back in 1982 and this year celebrates its 40th anniversary, which is is dedicated to the memory of Lisa Hale, a local marathon runner and member of Fleet and Crookham AC club. The event will start at 10am, which is an earlier start than previous years to minimise disruption to local residents.

Below: The Fleet Half Marathon in 2019, the last time the event was held.

Penny Abbott, Race Director, explains a bit about the Half Marathon and the difference it makes to the local community:

The Fleet Half Marathon has always been about being a community event. Part of living in a particular place, is what goes on there for the residents, which makes it a great place to live. This maybe sporting events and clubs like ours, or food/beer festivals, carnivals, firework displays, Christmas activities, club and societies – they all add up to make a place somewhere people want to live. If you don’t have these things – and many places don’t – the town is really then just a collection of houses and not a community.

 

The host club – Fleet & Crookham AC is a community club offering road running, athletics and cross country opportunities for all ages 8 to 80+. The club is about volunteers helping others to succeed in their sport and this framework has always been the same for the Fleet Half Marathon too. It is about local runners volunteering to put on a fantastic event for the benefit of local runners and the local community. Local charities benefit, local scout and guide units get involved and benefit, local companies support the event and benefit and local suppliers are used and benefit too.

 

We know there will always be some disruption caused by the road closures and we do what we can to advertise these in advance so people who are not interested in supporting the event can plan their day if they are travelling so they can avoid the road closures. But if you are at home that day, we really encourage you to watch the event somewhere along the route – cheer the runners on and support the biggest community sporting event in Hart.

 

It has been a tough two years for everyone with the pandemic and it is good to see some normality returning. 2022 sees some environmental impact changes too – finishers will receive a 100% eco-friendly, UK produced wooden medal with a ribbon made 100% from recycled bottles; the bottle of water on the finish line is 100% compostable and paper cups are being used on 3/4 water stations and cotton goody bags are being provided to all runners and a reusable drinks bottle so we are also doing our bit by making the event more sustainable.

Below: The new look eco-friendly wooden medal for 2022.

fleet-half-marathon-eco-medal-2022
 
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WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

The very first Fleet Half Marathon was held in 1982 but how did it all start? The organisers behind the event describe how the idea was formed:

In the midst of the 80’s running boom and a conversation in the pub, the idea of a Fleet Half Marathon was born. Following the first London Marathon in 1981, a group of local runners at Fleet & Crookham AC mulled over the idea – could it be done, would it be supported by the town, would the runners come?

 

Under the direction of a small group on the organizing team and in particular the late Colin Gostelow, the race was born. After much planning and securing support for the Star Newspaper and other local businesses, the first Fleet Half was launched.

 

Sunday 4th April 1982 – the first Fleet Half Marathon took place – a year after the first London Marathon. That year we had 1995 finishers – what an amazing number for a new event. It was won by D Stevens from Hastings AC in a time of 65:32 and the first lady home was local runner Paula Fudge in a time of 72.31 – she was 30th overall.

 

In the early days the event was run out of Rushmoor Arena, the military arena in Aldershot. The Red Devils jumped in and the Band of the Gurkhas played.

Below: The very first Fleet Half Marathon in 1982 as they ran past International Stores.

Below: The first Fleet Half Marathon medal awarded to the winners.

 
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Below: A slice of Marathon history; An original number race number from the 1980’s, worn by runner Colin Gostelow.

For those of us of a certain age, it’s hard to think of 1982 being 40 years ago! But it was and the world today is a very different place then it was back then. Today we face the crisis in Ukraine but back in the 80’s it was The Falklands War that was headline news.

Mike Wythe was the Marketing Manager for International stores in 1982 and remembers rearranging the trophy presentation for those caught up in the war:

This is the photo of the winning military team, 3 Para who were unable to receive their winners medals as they had to leave for the Falklands.

 

At the time I was Marketing Manager for International Stores and sponsored the 1st race. Thankfully the team members all returned safely from the conflict and we arranged for them to receive trophies at a presentation dinner at the Lismoyne Hotel.

 

International was opened the year before the race by the Sugar Puffs  ‘Honey Monster’ at the site of the current Sainsbury’s supermarket.  We provided a number of our delivery trailers for competitors to store their belongings in at the start/finish and drinks along the race route.

 

International was then owned by British American Tobacco and had over 1000 branches across England and Wales. They were sold off to Gateway who rebranded to Somerfields before selling on to Sainsbury’s.

Below: The winning military team in 1982. Credit: Mike Whythe.

You can read more about the history of the Fleet Half Marathon by following our page here.

 
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FAMOUS FACES

The Fleet Half Marathon is much more than just a local event. Dubbed the “pre-London” marathon it has attracted its fair share of celebrity runners over the years with actors such as Chris Chittell (aka Eric Pollard in Emmerdale) regularly turning up to run the course.

In 1982 the TV Times Leukaemia team was founded by Ken Lomas and this greatly influenced the creation of the annual event. The team would often include a number of famous faces who could be seen gracing TV programme covers and advertising their participation in the marathon. Over the years this has raised millions for countless different charities.

Below: Chris Chittell (L) pictured with runners from “Interpath” in the 2010 marathon. Credit: Rachel Myers.

Below: Actor Edward Peel (R) runs the 1988 marathon as part of the TV Times team. Credit: Rachel Myers.

Below: They are later joined by some familiar faces from the Spitting Image TV show. Credit: Rachel Myers.

 
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Below: Newspaper article from 1983 featuring a list of famous faces that would be attending the event.

 
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ROAD CLOSURES – 2022

Bringing us back to this Sunday and the current 2022 event, there will be a number of road closures to ensure the safety of the marathon runners.

Here is a full list of this year’s schedule along with details from the club:

Fleet & Crookham AC would like to thank the residents of Fleet and the surrounding area for their support over the years of this great community event. To make yours and our lives easier on this day, please be aware that the following roads will be affected and if you can avoid driving between the times indicated it would be advisable.

 

This year, to further minimise disruption, the race start time has been moved forward by 30 minutes to 10:00am. It is hoped that the rolling road closure and re-opening will provide as little disruption as possible to local residents. Diversions will be signposted. All roads are closed prior to the arrival of the first runners and re-opened as soon as it is safe to do so after the final runner and the tail end vehicle has gone by. In 2022 we are again working in partnership with William Ford Traffic Management Ltd who will be managing the road closures for the event on behalf of the organisers.

 

The race route has been designed with the co-operation of Fleet Town Council, Hart Safety Advisory Group (SAG), Hart District Council, Hampshire Highways and also this year, South East Water. They have been incredibly helpful in co-ordinating some of their ongoing water works around Fleet to enable the race to happen.

 

On the weekend of the race, South East Water will be suspending their road closures on Bagwell Lane and Fleet Road to eliminate any potential clashes with the required road closures and subsequent diversion routes needed for the Fleet Half Marathon.

 

We’d like to thank all of the groups who have helped enable this year’s race to occur.

 
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ROAD CLOSURES AND OPENING

The full list of road closures and anticipated closure times for the race are as follows– please note these times are approximate and could change and some roads will have traffic flow in one direction.

Reading Road North (Southbound) 8.30am 13:00pm (Closes early to allow start set up)

Reading Road North (Northbound) 8.30am 13.00pm (Closes early to allow start set up)

Tavistock Road (section between 9.30am 10.30am Fitzroy Road and Merivale)

Tavistock Road 9.00am 13.00pm (section between Fitzroy Road and Reading Road North – some limited access)

Merivale 9:55am 10.30am

Leawood Road 9:55am 1 10.45am

Crookham Road (Eastbound) 10.00am 11.30pm

Fleet Road 10.00am 11.30pm

Elvetham Road 10.00am 10.45am

Minley Road (B3103 towards Minley) 10.15am 11.30pm

Blackbushe Road (westbound away From Fleet between Minley Road and Rotton Green Road) 10.20am 11.45pm

Rotten Green Road 10.25am 12.00pm

Pale Lane (North) 10.30am 12.00pm

A323 (Hartley Wintney to Fleet 10.30am 12.15pm Between Pale Lane (North) and Pale Lane (South)

Pale Lane (South) 10.30am 13:00pm

Chatter Alley/Pilcot Road 10.35am 13.00pm

Hitches Lane 10.50am 13.00pm

Fitzroy Road 10.55am 13.00pm

Tavistock Road 9.00am 13.10pm (Section between Fitzroy Road and Reading Road North)

Please note these times are for guidance only. Roads will re-open as soon as possible after the back-runners pass. This could be before the time indicated above.

Drivers on the following roads will be allowed to travel in the opposite direction to the runners:

• Bottom part of Fleet Road (once runner numbers have thinned)

• Minley Road (towards Fleet)

• Blackbushe Road (from the A30 towards Minley Road)

• A323 (from Hartley Wintney to Pale Lane North)

• Hitches Lane (from Elvetham Heath direction towards Crookham Village subject to a traffic control point between Fitzroy Road and Calthorpe Park School. There will be a period of time at the peak of the runners when this may be fully closed but we will try to avoid this if possible.)

Drivers on these roads will be able to travel on the opposite side to runners:

Bottom part of Fleet Road (once runner numbers have thinned).

Minley Road (towards Fleet).

Blackbushes Road (from the A30 towards Minley Road).

A323 (from Hartley Wintney to Pale Lane North).

Hitches Lane (from Elvetham Heath direction towards Crookham Village subject to a traffic control point between Fitzroy Road and Calthorpe Park School. There will be a period of time at the peak of the runners when this may be fully closed).

Below: The maps below chart the course of the 2022 event for you and show – 1) Calthorpe Park map and 2) A full course map:

 
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PAST MARATHONS

Due to the popularity of our Fleet Carnival history pages, we have now started to gather details about the past annual events of the Fleet Half Marathon. If you have any photos, videos, information or media of any kind to share, please get in touch, or pop along and join our Fleet History Facebook group.

You can also keep an eye on our own Fleet Half Marathon News and Updates page to see what we’ve added!

To find out more about the Fleet Half Marathon, visit their Facebook page, or website.

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