This was somewhat of a late addition to our race schedule. Jodie and I are both marathon training, and whilst we are trying to do some “Races” this didn’t really fit with our plans. However, the announcement that personal inspiration Steve Way was doing it made us change those plans a little! (And I did get to see him briefly, regrettably though I did not speak to him 🙁 )
I was scheduled to do a 20 miler, my first of the campaign, and Jodie 19. We switched Jodie’s cutback week so this would be her “recovery” week, and I decided to do a 7 mile “warm up”. The intention was to both treat the race like a training run and take it nice and easy.
As such, our preparation wasn’t the best! A friends birthday the night before resulted in one of us (And it wasn’t me…) getting in at 2.30am! A very short nights sleep later, thanks to my need to do 7 miles beforehand, meant we got there super early and we were the first car to park in the car park – and there were plenty of attendants to help with this. Very slickly organised. Though it was a sunny, pretty morning, it was bitingly cold in the wind. I went off on my first warm up to clear my head and after 3 miles I’d forgotten about the cold, and the wind and my head was relatively sober!
Getting back to the carpark, I couldn’t believe it was the same place I left an hour before! It was a transformation, heaving full with runners everywhere. I found the car and Jodie and we went to get registered. I was a little surprised it wasn’t chip timed, but that’s not really a big deal to me and on the whole the registration was very well organised. Though like seemingly every race it was a bit short of toilets with some long queues.
It didn’t take long for us all to be called to the start area – no time allocated start pens here! Proper old school. And then we were off.
I spent the first bit with Jodie before going our separate ways. The first mile or so was downhill and good to get some momentum. The sun was shining and the countryside route was stunning! Picturesque views and although there were no road closures, traffic wasn’t much of a concern. The drivers were very accommodating.
Water stations were plentiful, though in plastic cups which I find it tough to drink from, especially at race pace. All the volunteers were an absolute credit and as I wasn’t racing I think I managed to say thank you to every one I passed. Their efforts really are appreciated!
The route was very much “Undulating”, with one enormous hill in the middle – at the top of which were parkrun friends Neil and Aime taking some pictures and cheering us on! Thank you to them for the motivation!
I’d managed to keep my pace at around 8:30s, which was faster than I really should have been going/wanting to go. But Dave summed it up afterwards – you just roll off the hills. I actually think its not a slow course at all, just not brilliantly fast.
I even managed to stop for a (prearranged) cup of team in Kings Stag, as my friends farm was directly on the route! Made a nice pitstop, though it did mean trying to re-overtake everyone I’d spent 9 miles passing!
The last mile and a half was a slog though, all uphill! Crossing the line I forgot the free tee shirt, a nice cotton souvenir which was nice for such a cheap race. Catching up with Dave and Si (Dave paced Si to a massive PB! Good work both of them!) after the finish, we started chatting about what time Jodie was going for. I thought she was only doing a training run – so it was quite the shock to see her, with the clock just ticking over 1:59, rounding the last corner! Dave saw her first and I couldn’t believe it – Jodie was going to do it in under two hours! That was her target for the much flatter Reading half in 2 months!
She absolutely smashed it and she was beaming from ear to ear after the run. I am extremely proud of her. 16 minute PB, sub 2 hours. Chuffed as nuts!
It was a brilliantly organised and beautiful race and I have nothing but praise for it. Despite not being chip timed, the results were up very promptly! I wouldn’t hesitate to do this again, though I can’t promise I’d be saying the same if it was cold and wet!