Boxing coach Gordon Haigh says he is delighted to have won a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to compete in the New York Marathon later this year, thanks to Hudgell Solicitors.
Mr Haigh, who is well known in Hull and the boxing community for running the former Hull Saints club for many years, has secured the prize which includes flights, accommodation and race entry, thanks to an impressive run in the Humber Bridge Half Marathon last Sunday.
As the fastest finisher in the age 55-59 category, his name was put into a hat with the first five in a wide range of other age categories for the chance to win the trip to the Big Apple, and inclusion in the world’s biggest marathon.
“I was shell-shocked when I got the call to say I had won to be honest. What a fantastic prize it is. It is a once in a life-time opportunity and I am very much looking forward to it,” he said.
Gordon, 56, is a committed runner, having always stayed fit from his days as a professional boxer when younger, and decades of training the next generations at Hull Saints.
Time was better than target – despite the hills towards Barton
Despite working full-time as a school caretaker, Gordon runs most days of the week, usually around seven miles, and can clock up anywhere between 16 and 20 miles on a weekend.
With that in mind, he’d set himself a target of crossing the Humber Bridge Half Marathon finishing line in a time under one hour and 30 minutes, which he knew would put him close to the winner’s time in that age category in 2016.
And, despite being shocked by some of the hills faced as part of the course when heading towards the 10-mile mark in Barton, he was delighted to cross in a chip time of 01:26:56, making him the fastest of 131 runners competing in his own age category, and 32nd overall out of 2,300 registered runners.
“I really enjoyed the course and I was very pleased with the time. To come first in the category was great and I was a good few minutes better than my target,” he said.
“I’m not a regular marathon runner, although I do run every day and cover a lot of miles in a week.
“It was my son-in-law who encouraged me to do the Half Marathon, and obviously I am pleased that I did now.”
Ready to run with thousands at New York Marathon
Taking place on Sunday, November 5, Gordon will run from Staten Island through the five Boroughs of New York to the finish in Central Park, alongside around 50,000 other runners.
It will be a first visit to New York for Gordon, who hopes to take his wife Suzanne with him, and he admits he has already started assessing the course in preparation.
“I’ve had a look at the route and I’ve been told it can be quite cold at that time of the year, so I’ll have to be prepared,” he said.
“I’ve entered the Vale of York Half Marathon and the Hull Marathon before that in September, so I have plenty of running ahead. My last marathon before last Sunday was in 2015 though, and before that it was many years ago.”
Andrea Beer, general marketing manager at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “Gordon is a very deserving winner of this award, not only because of the impressive run he produced on Sunday to finish first in his category, but also because he is known as somebody who has given so much back to his local community and encouraged so many people to have careers in sport and to be active.
“We are sure he’ll have a great time in New York. Our winner last year, Matthew Nutt, came back overwhelmed by the entire experience and that was a big factor in us deciding to fund this prize again.
“We have been delighted to see so many Humber Half runners congratulate Gordon already and wish him well. It again demonstrates the superb spirit of the event as a whole. He certainly has the best wishes of all at Hudgell Solicitors.”
Karl takes honours as fastest from Team Hudgell
Whilst Gordon claimed the New York Prize, it was claims handler Karl Griffin who posted the best time out of the runners from Hudgell Solicitors.
His chip time as he crossed the line was 01:39:54, giving him 131st spot out of 603 runners aged between 15 and 39.
Karl was five seconds ahead of managing director Neil Hudgell – who had been the firm’s fastest the previous year – who finished with a time of 01:39:59, making him 22nd out of 163 runners aged 50-54.
Next home was experienced runner Gary Warriner in 01:40:03, making him 12th out of 95 runners in the age 55-59 category.
Others representing the main event sponsors were Ben Marsden (01:56:11), Vicky Houghton (01:59:52), Laura Wilkins (02:21:40), Rebecca Dam (02:03:10), Laura Larkin 02:15:59, and Tamsin White (02:36:10).