Weary, bitterly cold and with aching leg muscles and the odd blister or two, 23 students and three staff members returned to Pestalozzi International Village proudly clutching hard-won medals.
They had all successfully completed the 13 miles of the Hastings Half Marathon, on March 18, along with hundreds of other runners.
Despite the -1 temperatures and snow lasting throughout the day, the students and staff pulled together in typical Pestalozzi fashion and thoroughly enjoyed their Hastings Half Marathon experience. We also had our mini-runners, who took part in their own race before the rest of runners took off. Again, despite the weather our mini-runners performed extremely well and enjoyed their experience.
For many of the students, competing in such a sporting event such was a totally new experience and one they are unlikely to forget quickly.
Before the race, anticipation had been building in the tent and gazebo that became the Pestalozzi HQ. It was here the students eagerly helped each other to pin on what they hoped would be race winning numbers.
The excitement was not dampened by the cold and it was time for photos and laughter. There was even an impromptu dance session - one way for the students to warm up for the run…
As the time drew closer to 10.30am, the students gathered with other runners at the start line, and readied themselves for what many believe is one of the hardest Half Marathon courses in the UK.
Spectators turned out to cheer on the runners who faced a steep hill-climb, a lengthy descent and then a long hard run along the seafront. As they entered the final stretch, they were raucously greeted by Tenzin Wangmo, Joellyn Lumbantobing and the Pestalozzi mascot, who handed out the nine country flags from which our students come from.
After the race it was a case of getting warm, Adith Sivamohan’s technique for returning to normal body heat was by hugging our tea earn. Little did he know we’d had to borrow an electrical cable to keep it going because of a blown fuse. Other techniques included crowding into a small tent and refuelling with cake which had been made by our wonderful volunteers.
Inside the tent, after the race, Isaac Rukundo and Eric Muhwezi both from Uganda and Asish Das from India shared their thoughts on the monumental day.
"It was a really fun experience. At first I did not expect to make it, but I’m so glad I did. The medal I got makes me feel like a hero!” said Isaac.
Asish said: "That was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in my life. I totally enjoyed it.
"Honestly, it was the first time I ran for such a huge distance. The one aspect I most enjoyed was when I finished the marathon with my country’s flag, that feeling was phenomenal!” said Asish.
"The heart-warming cheers made my already flustered and exhausted body continue as I dragged my feet to the finish line. That moment when you know you have conquered the track is magical,” said Eric.
For all the runners there was a slow realisation they had achieved something rather special.
We want to thank all of our volunteers and supporters who helped and gave up their time on the day, and also to those who sponsored our students in the build-up to the event. You have helped them by giving them the gift of an education.