This race was advertised as being one of the best half marathons of the year, so well worth a look. The arrival was well marshalled, with cars being directed to park in the playing fields of the neighbouring school. A short walk across the grass, and we came an equally well marshalled toilet area, with 2 or 3 marshals directing a queue of runners to one of 30 or so portaloos.
Strolling past the queue, I soon came across a group of 4 green-and-white clad people staring at the sky, with one guy waving his phone in the air. I quickly spotted the opportunity to photo-bomb the group photo and ran up behind them but arrived just outside of the nick of time. It’s still a nice photo though.
After a quick visit to the afore-mentioned portaloos, I can safely say they’d get my vote for most efficient ablutions environment of the year. After that it was a stroll down to the start, during which both Nick and myself commented on the fact that our legs still felt a little stiff from the previous Wednesday’s beasting handed out by Fran, where she’d had us running up and down the hill up to George Smith’s farm a few times. Maybe we could take it a bit easier next time, Fran?
And we’re off
The race itself started on one of the roads into Chippenham, and it was already a little crowded at the start. I sought out the Shrewton huddle of Rich, Fran and Andy placed a respectable distance from the back. After a minute or two hanging around we were off, heading into town where there were quite a lot of people shouting encouragement. We passed through the town, under the railway bridge and headed out into the country. Most of the race was around country lanes, was very scenic and relatively flat. I was quite impressed by Andy’s pre-race analysis as he’d predicted head winds at around mile 9. And as I went past the 9 mile marker board, there it was, right in the face.
Love Mile 9, me
Mile 9 also went down as the one of the season’s highlights for me. Regular readers will doubtless remember the episode where 2 Shrewton schoolchildren behaved in a manner rather unbecoming of the club (at Calne) or my later attempts to find the injured party at Corsham and Bath. A quick look at the entrants list indicated Andrew had entered this race, and at around mile 9 I finally caught up with him. I quickly introduced myself and apologised for our previous actions. Being a seasoned runner he was, of course, perfectly ok with it and we then proceeded to run the final 4 miles together having a chat. He’s a really nice bloke and well worth talking to. It was really interesting running alongside someone as well matched as yourself, as sometimes he would pull ahead by a metre and I’d have to dig in to keep up, and sometimes the situation would be reversed. He also tipped me off about the Severn Bridge race, which is now on my bucket list for 2018.
However, in the final hill, he suddenly dropped back a few metres and a quick glance at my watch indicated that I was close to PB time, so I hit the accelerator for the half mile downhill run to the finish. Whilst it was definitely not a sprint finish (that would be childish J), it was still as much as I could manage and I was a bit miffed to miss my PB by 2 seconds.
Gherkins with that, sir?
I then made a classically stupid mistake. As I intended to walk back down the course taking photos of the others as they came in, I didn’t want to be mistaken for an active competitor so I threw my race number in a bin next to a burger van. This was fine until later when I went to collect my bag from the drop area. Now the bag was returnable to the person wearing the right number, which I no longer had. So I had to run round to said burger van and rummage in his waste bin looking for the number. Fortunately it was still there.
Having the number also gave me access to a goody bag (for those yet to go to an event, they put a cross on your number in exchange for the bag to prevent you claiming two). This came with a T-Shirt which provided a nice memento of the race. It’s just so bright…even Lawrence would have difficulty being brighter than this.