By Derren Howard
Eastbourne distance runner Daniel Stidder ticked another box in his ever-growing list of achievements as he crossed the line at Princes Park in first place last Sunday.
At the age of 19, and competing in his first ever half-marathon, Stidder became the youngest winner of the Eastbourne Half and his time of 1.15.10 secs is the fifth fastest since the Eastbourne event began in 2012.
The former Eastbourne Rover had previously won the junior races at the Eastbourne Half Marathon as an 11 and 12 year-old but his goal was to triumph in the senior event of his home town competition.
He was unable to enter at Eastbourne last year as he was racing in the English Schools Cross Country. But with his schedule clear, he made the most of his opportunity and came home more than three minutes ahead of second placed Andrew McCaskill (1.18:30 secs) with Matthew Dowle, of Team Bodyworks, third in 1.21.34 secs.
“I always wanted to run the senior race and also help raise money for some great charities,” Stidder said. “I was pleased with my time. Now I know how to pace it, I feel I could run quicker. I didn’t want to go off too quick in the first half of the race.
“I felt really good. The last mile was the hardest but the people that came out to support helped. A big thank you to everyone.”
Stidder, who is studying Physical Education at the Eastbourne campus of the Brighton University, now represents Brighton Phoenix and is coached by Jonathan Bigg, who among others, trains Tim Bayley and British middle distance athlete Charlie Grice.
Alongside his gym work and core strength exercises, Stidder trains between 40-50 miles each week.
He will now focus on the outdoor season and will hope to improve his 5k and 10k times. His best at 5k currently stands at 15.34 secs and he’s trying to trim his 10k down to 30 minutes.
Stidder’s ultimate ambition is to emulate his former Eastbourne Rover team mate Seb Rodgers and represent Team GB or England at a major tournament.
“Daniel would love to wear the Team GB or the England vest,” said his father Sean. “That has always been his goal but there are a many good runners out there. Daniel is working hard, training well and he’s knocking on the door.
“He enjoys his running and let’s see where it takes him.” Sean added, “Seb has always helped Dan. As a junior, Seb would run with Dan on a warm down laps. It’s great what Seb has achieved and shows what can be done.”
Katie Hilsdon (1.26.28 secs) was first home in the ladies event with Hailsham Harrier Rachel Hillman second in 1.30.12 secs. Jennifer Wallace placed third in 1.36.21 secs.