THE seventh running of the Kirste 5 was another smash-hit success in the sunshine.

The popular race - which is held in memory of popular former runner Kirste Bowman - saw hundreds complete the challenging course which starts and finishes in Rayleigh.

And race director Karl Cadman was delighted to see so many people taking part.

“Once again all the local clubs and running groups came together to make this event a special day in the running calendar,” said Cadman.

“Extreme temperatures meant our First Aid Provider, EuroMed was kept reasonably busy, but it was nothing they couldn’t handle.

“Grovewood Primary School has once again helped us so much with the event, and thanks to them, and all our partners.

“The Chairman of Rochford and Rayleigh Council were on hand to help with medal presentations, as were other invited VIP guests which was great.

“And a massive well done to all the runners this year too.”

Nearly 400 runners competed in the five mile race with close to 100 racing in the one mile family run.

Leigh on Sea Striders star Gus Withers was the first to cross the finishing line for the main event.

And Withers was pleased to secure victory in his first ever Kirste 5.

“It’s always nice to win a race as that’s what you train for I guess,” said Withers.

“I haven’t competed in a race for some time so to come home with a victory was super pleasing and showed that my training is going well.

“I also thought this race was really fun.

“It was challenging as well but it was a great way to explore woodlands that I had never been to before.

“There was a good community feel throughout the whole race environment and I enjoyed it.”

Withers finished the race in 29 minutes, 23 seconds and was followed home by Southend AC’s Lee Taylor who ran 30:39.

Mark Waller finished third in 31:15 while there was a Southend one-two-three in the female race.

Lindsey Coleman was the first to finish in 34:55 with Hayley Lamkin (35:55) second and Anne Jenkinson (37:27) third.

Kyle Gill was the first finisher in the family run while Kea Powlette was the first girl to cross the finishing line and the event itself is now close to having raised £40,000 since it started.

All profits from the race will be donated equally between Macmillan Cancer Support and the Southend Breast Unit at Southend Hospital.

Keen runner Kirste was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and raised more than £50,000 for breast cancer charities by running 23 marathons while fighting the disease.

She died in 2012 but the fundraising now continues in her name.