A COURSE record was set at the eighth Basingstoke Half Marathon on Sunday.

With the usual course reversed this time around, a new record was always going to be set but winners Tom Aldred did in fact come close to the overall 1hr 4mins benchmark, finishing in a time of 1hr 9mins and 38seconds.

Tom, of the London Heathside club, was running the Basingstoke Half Marathon for the first time.

At the finish line, he said: "It was very, very hilly! But it is a beautiful course.

"I'm delighted to win and it was good preparation for doing the Dublin Marathon in a few weeks."

There was a familiar face as the winner of the women's race with Hart Road Runners member Lesley Locks winning her third Basingstoke Half Marathon in a row and placing 20th overall.

Lesley said: "It felt even more hilly to be honest even though it obviously wasn't! It was great to win again."

Overall, 956 people finished the race on Sunday with scores raising money for charities and well

See Thursday's Gazette for eight pages of coverage including every single finisher's name and chip time

This year, villagers in Ellisfield also coincided their scarecrow competition event with the race so runners had the joy of seeing creations under the theme of 'heroes and villains' by the roadside. Scarecrows included Little Red Riding Hood, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson.

Meanwhile, members of The Queen’s Company 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards joined runners by taking on the half marathon in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The battalion, based in Aldershot, is keen to support local races even when they are out the country, so soldiers decided to run in parallel to the race - and even got some local non-UK counterparts to take part.

Event organisers Destination Basingstoke also announced on the day that runners can now sign up for the 2019 half marathon race or a new 10k race that will take place on the same day – October 6.

The new race will follow part of the half marathon course and will start half an hour later at 11.30am.

Felicity Edwards, from Destination Basingstoke, said: “After eight fantastic years we are always looking at ways to get more people involved in this very popular event – and now with this shorter distance on a fast course there really will be something for everyone.

“A 10k race is a great step up from our Festival 5k race in the spring, giving people time to train over the summer, as well as for more experienced runners wanting a fast 10k rather than our scenic and undulating half marathon.

The new 10k will be an ‘out and back’ course starting from within the War Memorial Park and heading out towards Cliddesden following mainly the course of the half marathon to Cliddesden before heading back the same way.

Places will be limited.

Sign up for either race at basingstokehalfmarathon.com.