Hugo Richardson in the Surrey Slog Half Marathon

Hugo Richardson chose a very hilly trail race for his first ever half marathon when he lined up for the Surrey Slog

Most young athletes would probably pick a fast, flat road race for their first ever half marathon. They’d want to showcase the sort of times they’re capable of and look to impress their peers. Not Hugo Richardson though. Hugo is cut from a different cloth. Very rarely taking the easy option, Hugo always looks to challenge himself where possible. It’s probably because he knows that’s the best way to improve and no matter what level he reaches, Hugo has a hunger to get better, fitter and faster.

For his debut half marathon, he chose one of the toughest ones out there. That was the Surrey Slog – a trail race that incorporated five major climbs. In fact, there was no flat on the route at all. It was all up and then down. Up and then down. The hills were relentless and were bound to make it tough but Hugo took it all in his stride.

Hugo has been in scintillating form this season and he seems to just keep getting quicker and quicker. He did quite a few of the major cross country events towards the beginning of the year, including the South East Schools’ Inter Counties, where he finished 14th, and the English Schools Championships, coming 98th. He also did the South of England Championships in January and went on the compete for Dorset in the Inter County Championships at Loughborough, finishing 84th.

He impressed a lot in the Boscombe Winter 5k Series and ended up nailing a terrific new PB of 16:16. He certainly demonstrated the potential to go sub 16 in the not too distant future. He’d also been running strongly at Moors Valley parkrun, finishing first practically every time he’d run it since April. That was about ten times and he’d managed to chip his time down to 16:53, which is outstanding on that course.

He’d also been running well in the Upton Summer Series races, finishing 2nd, 4th and 3rd in a high standard field.

Duke of Kent School in Cranleigh

The Duke of Kent School in Cranleigh was the race HQ

There were essentially five big climbs on the Surrey Slog Half Marathon route but at the speed Hugo was going at, you wouldn’t have known it. He was still doing 7 minute miles or under for the first four splits despite the inclines.

There was a really steep climb to negotiate in the 5th and 6th miles before he hurtled back down at a frightening speed on the 7th mile. The 9th mile saw him scale another really steep climb before posting a 6:20 split on the way back down on his 10th mile.

A trail on the Surrey Slog Half Marathon route

The testing trail route was full of undulations

There was one last big hill to negotiate after that on the 11th and 12th miles before he closed it out with a 6:28 paced final mile. Getting to the line in 1:31:56, Hugo did just enough to seal the win, edging it over Rai Santosh who took 2nd in 1:32:07.

Jonathan Sparshott took 3rd in 1:33:41, with Robin Boon coming in 4th in a time of 1:41:14. It was a really impressive win for Hugo on his debut half marathon race and one that he’ll be able to look back on with immense pride.

Hugo Richardson battling it out for first place in the Surrey Slog Half Marathon

Hugo battles it out for the race lead with Rai Santosh

The elevation gain reached 1,879 ft and Hugo did amazingly well to come away with an average pace of 7:08. The first three women finished 16th, 17th and 18th, with Polly Adams taking 1st in 1:53:12, Andrea Stehlikova finishing next in 1:54:01. Then it was Andrea Thomas taking 3rd female spot in 1:54:36.

A total of 71 runners successfully negotiated the course, with the slowest of them taking 3 hours 21 minutes.

It was a busy couple of weeks for Hugo as the following week he had the BAC Mile of Miles Relay on the Tuesday. Then at the weekend he was in action in the Youth Development League where he ran an 800m in 2:14.40, a 1500m in 4:19.16 which got him the win. Then he did the 3000m in 9:33:32, which was an average pace of under 5 minutes per mile.

No doubt there will plenty of exciting things to come from Hugo as he continues to develop and grow into a top level athlete. He’ll challenge for many trophies and accolades in the future with the work ethic and attitude he has.