THE 2018 Southend Half Marathon has been hailed as one of the best events to date.

A whopping 2,072 runners took part in this year’s race, which was held at Shoebury’s East Beach.

The turnout was the highest in 23 years and tens of thousands of pounds was raised for Havens Hospices.

Jane Hopkins, the events fundraiser at Havens Hospices and Southend Half Marathon organiser, said: “The day went fantastically well and I would say it was one of the best events to date.

“We had 2,072 runners completing the race this year, which is the highest turnout we’ve had over the past 23 years.

“We have raised £76,844 to date, but we’re hoping to exceed our fundraising target of £100,000 as sponsorship starts to come in.”

Phil Dickens, of Cambridge Harriers, completed the course in an impressive time of one hour, 13 minutes and 57 seconds to secure top spot.

Ty Farrer and Liviu Ionita, of Huntingdonshire Athletics Club and Barking Road Runners respectively, were also in the top three positions.

Benfleet Running Club’s Christopher Wayman and Lee Baynton were in sixth and seventh spot respectively, with times of one hour, 15 minutes and 36 seconds and one hour, 15 minutes and 49 seconds.

Christian Holmes’ time of one hour, 16 minutes and 54 seconds was enough for the Southend Athletics Club representative to take ninth place.

Dan Slayford was the leading Flyers Southend runner, having notched 22nd position with a time of one hour, 22 minutes and 29 seconds.

Leigh Striders’ Stuart Cable was in 29th spot with a time of one hour, 23 minutes and 41 seconds.

Ian Toal, of Rochford Running Club, was in 27th spot with a time of one hour, 24 minutes and 23 seconds, while Rochford Endurance and Distance Runners representative Tim Evans recorded a time of one hour, 25 minutes and 22 seconds to become the 43rd competitor to cross the finish line.

The first wheelchair athlete to complete the 13.1 mile course was Harlow Athletic Club’s Adam Goldspink-Burgess, who finished after one hour, 17 minutes and 17 seconds.

Eddie Clampin, of Flyers Southend, crossed the finish line after one hour, 29 minutes and 24 seconds to ensure he ended in the runners-up position.

Ginte Bailey was the first female competitor to complete the event.

The Havering Athletics Club member clocked a time of one hour, 26 minutes and 52 seconds.

Bailey was quickly followed by Leigh Striders’ Vicky McElligott.

Ryan Holeyman, 13, took first place in the 3K run.

Hopkins is confident the event can attract even more runners next time around.

Hopkins added: “It is a great course for all abilities – from those who want to get a personal best or specific time to beginners who want to take it on as a personal challenge.

“We are hopeful that more runners of all abilities will join us next year.

“The support is fantastic by both the local community and also the wider running community.”