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CHRIS Hatton dug deep to win the ‘best ever’ Kirste 5.

The Southend Athletics Club star crossed the line in 29.57 minutes, ahead of 400 other runners.

And Karl Cadman - who helped to organise the popular race in memory of Kirste Bowman - was left overjoyed by the occasion.

“We’re still on a high now about how well it went and to have so many people coming up to us saying it was the best Kirste 5 ever was just fantastic,” said Cadman.

“We had 401 finishers in the main race which was 81 up on last year and we had 104 in the family run which equalled last year’s total.

“We’re on course to raise in the region of £6,000 and it was just such a great day.”

The Kirste 5 - which starts in Grove Park and finishes at Grove Wood School - takes place to remember Kirste Bowman, who died in 2012, aged 42.

Kirste raised money for breast cancer charities by running 23 marathons while fighting the disease.

But Cadman was keen to praise the event’s team of volunteers for making the latest event such a success.

“We had 90 marshals out on the course and without them and their help the whole day would not have been possible,” said Cadman.

“We had four clubs - Hockley Trail Runners, Flyers Southend, Rochford Running Club and Leigh on Sea Striders helping us and we’re incredibly grateful for their support.

“We’re already looking ahead to next year now and ways in which we can make it better.

“But remembering Kirste and raising as much money as we can for such good causes is what matters most.

“This is now a community race, supported by Kirste’s friends and family with the help of local clubs and running groups and I think everyone would agree it’s a great event.”

Money made from the testing five mile race will be donated to Southend Hospital’s Breast Cancer Unit and MacMillan Nurses.

This year’s event saw Mark Waller finish in second place in a time of 30 minutes and 11 seconds, while Leigh on Sea Striders’ Matibini Matibini was third in 30.29.

Benfleet Running Club’s Eddy Cooper took fourth, while Andrea Hughes of Leigh on Sea Striders was the first female finisher.

Hughes crossed the line in 35.57, just ahead of her club-mate Samantha Pickett.