Race Report: Brighton Marathon


2023 Brighton Marathon

On Sunday morning in a bitterly cold Preston Park, Harriers huddled around kit bags like shivering goats on a South Downs hillside. Sunny with a gentle breeze promised the forecast. It wasn’t. Mini Eggs (seasonal at least) were passed around but they didn’t cut it. Of course, those of us in full team kit were well covered (College Hoodie in cotton-polyester with draw cord and front pouch, just £23 you know; Stadium Pant with full lining, ¾ leg zip, £38).

Anyway, it was 2023 Brighton Marathon day and an impressive contingent of 19 Harriers unfurled their deckchairs over the revised and improved Brighton Marathon route, for a race now under the auspices of London Marathon Events. And the sun and blue skies did soon emerge over the seaside, rendering some singed shoulders among the TWH ranks by the end of the race. 

The Harriers really earned their stripes this year. On his Brighton debut, John Law was carrying the burden of having not completed his previous two marathon starts, but you would not have known it on Sunday as he was first Harrier to cross the line (2:53:32), in 87th place overall out of 8,473 confirmed finishers, and 22nd in the M45s. This was John’s sixth completed marathon, all of which he has finished in under three hours.

Congratulations to John and to Mike Cardall, who finished just 22 seconds behind John (2:53:54) in 94th place and 25th M40. John and Mike cruised around most of the course with David Weston, who also shone to be the third Harrier home (3:18:00), just ahead of the ageless Dave Hadaway (3:18:40), who finished 56th in the M55s.

Hadders cantered through much of the race alongside Geoff Turner, a man taking the fight to Father Time with extraordinary success, and who should probably be donated to scientific research sooner rather than later. Now the smiling assassin of the M60s, Geoff finished 6th in his category on Sunday (3:20:09). It was Geoff’s fourth appearance in Brighton and his fastest marathon since London 2019, and his performance on Sunday qualifies Geoff for London 2024.

Jillian Holford is so modest about her running that we were concerned her chip wouldn’t pick up her time. Luckily it did, as Jillian ran her first marathon since Frankfurt 2018 – and her first since turning 50 – in an outstanding 3:26:01 to finish 5th in the F50s. Setting Strava buzzing with wonder at her consistent splits on her Brighton debut, congratulations to Jillian, who also qualifies for London 2024.

Mike King and David Barker solar powered home, both comfortably under the 3:30 mark, while a strong and typically gutsy performance from club chair George Harris was almost matched by marathon debutant Stuart McIlwham, who crossed the line in a very impressive 3:44:34.

Elliot Chiles has only begun to tap into his potential (3:46:59), while “Loose” Kannan Mahalingam flew off the line in characteristic fashion and dispatched the four-hour barrier for the first time (3:51:38). Steve Wellstead finished 45th in the M60s while Derek Harrison was 79th in the M65s, and the considerable strength in depth of the Harriers was evidenced by Clifford Gray, Andrew Shepherd, Hayden Thirkill, Jonathan Southworth and Robin Barwick.

A very successful outing. Fish ‘n’ chips all round, and thanks to Bob for compiling the results.

For the record, Marshall Smith from Ashford AC, Kent, won the men’s race by eight minutes (2:24:05) in his first ever marathon, while Londoner Helen Reid took the women’s title (2:54:42).  

Robin Barwick