Craig Berryman relishes Hayling Billy 5 success after nip-and-tuck duel with Neil Williams

Craig Berryman of Havant won the Hayling Billy 5 race in a time of 28.50. Picture: Alan Dunk
Craig Berryman of Havant won the Hayling Billy 5 race in a time of 28.50. Picture: Alan Dunk
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Craig Berryman was thrilled to win the Hayling Billy 5 race after a really good battle with Neil Williams to take the glory.

Both runners swapped positions during the return leg of the five-mile trail race hosted by Victory AC.

Neil Williams of Denmead Striders finished second in the Hayling Billy 5 race in 28min 57sec. Picture: Alan Dunk

Neil Williams of Denmead Striders finished second in the Hayling Billy 5 race in 28min 57sec. Picture: Alan Dunk

But the win went to the Havant athlete in 28min 50sec with Denmead’s Williams second in 28.57.

Jess Thomson of Bognor Regis Tone Zone won the race for the ladies’ title with a time of 33.50 ahead of Victory’s Jo Gilholm in 34.41.

It is usually a warm summer evening for the race but this time it was wet with big puddles to negotiate along the flat trail course.

Berryman was coming back from glandular fever and the Havant club member soon found he felt good in the lead.

It proved a hard-fought win and one he was very proud of.

He said: ‘My plan for the race was to stick with the leaders and see how I felt.

‘I think the excitement of getting out for the run got the better of me as I went off and led from the start, also feeling comfortable at the time.

‘The turn around and run back was the telling part of my fitness and the puddles between miles three and four definitely being a factor of that.

‘Neil certainly didn’t give up hope as he got back alongside me with a mile and a quarter to go.

‘After having a quick time check with him (I didn’t run with a watch) he said we were on for 29 minutes.

‘This kept me spurred on because I was not expecting to get sub 30 minutes.

‘Neil did start to get away and I thought I’d wait until about 1k to go before making a final attack for the finish line.

‘After getting past Neil again at around 900m to 800m to go, I felt strong and confident that all my short track work over the recent months could keep me going until the end.

‘To find my finishing time to be what it was made me very happy and with the race always being a popular event, to win it really topped a great run.’