Port staff pound the pavement

April 26, 2015

 During working hours their thoughts are firmly on the water but, last weekend, a group of port staff were busy pounding the pavement.

More than 30 members of staff from the port took part in the inaugural ABP Southampton Half Marathon and 10k after months of hard training.

The city’s first ever race saw over 6000 runners hit the streets of Southampton, passing iconic landmarks such as the Bargate, QE2 Anchor, St Mary’s Stadium and the Itchen Bridge.

Among the staff who laced up their trainers on the big day was port pilot, Sean O’Toole.

Sean, 51, from Chandlers Ford, can usually be found navigating ships into port, however this week he was routing the streets of the city as he took on the half marathon.

Sean is a member of the Itchen Imperial rowing club and regularly ran the Northam Bridge and Itchen Bridge as part of his fitness training. He said: “When the ABP Southampton Half Marathon was announced, I signed up to spur on my training. However the furthest I ran before the big day was six miles so I really put myself to the test.

“The support and atmosphere was superb. I met some friends at the halfway point who gave me some life-saving jelly babies and managed to cross the finish line in 2 hours, 1 minute.

“Once I’ve recovered I will most definitely be entering next year.”

Head of finance at the port, Steve Lake, who also took on the half marathon, finished in a time of 1 hour, 38 minutes, placing him in the top 500 runners overall.

Steve said: “It was a fantastic, fun event with such great support. ABP Milemakers really captured the spirit of Southampton and I am already looking forward to being a part of it next year.”

Brian Butcher, who works in the Vessel Traffic Services Centre at Eastern Docks, completed the 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 45 minutes. He also commented on the great support of the crowds and said: “I was very surprised at how many people came out and supported the runners, it made the run much more fun.”

Sean Cooper and Gideon Aymes, both project engineers, and Will Jeffrey, senior project engineer, took part in the half marathon and 10k respectively. They said much of their success was down to the great atmosphere in the city. Sean said: “It was a tiring race but satisfying to complete. The crowds cheering along the way lifted me each time I started to flag.”

Paving the way was port director, Nick Ridehalgh, who ran the 10k route and finished in 52 minutes.

Nick said: “We are extremely proud to sponsor this fantastic event. It brought the community together, with spectators lining the streets, from the High Street to Highfield, St Mary’s Stadium to Southampton Common. The city took the race to its heart, as did our team of staff.

“I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the 10k race and will definitely be signing up for its second year.”

For more information about the event and full listings of results visit www.abpsouthamptonhalf.co.uk