Having been told about the Poole Festival of Running by a work colleague back in February I soon signed up for the half marathon, 2018 being the first year that they have organised this distance. I arrived nice and early parking up for free in one of the many car parks that were suggested on the website and took a leisurely stroll with a mate that I’d met who had also entered, down to the race village situated in Poole park.
Race numbers complete with timing chip on the back are collected on the morning of the event, as are the finishers T-Shirts which is a good idea as you are sure to get the correct pre-ordered size as recently there have been too many events where certain sizes have run out by the time some of the slower runners have crossed the line.
The hot first half
After pinning my number to my shirt and dropping my rucksack off at the baggage drop tent we relaxed in the already warm sun and waited for the tannoy call for the 10K and Half Marathon runners to assemble at the start line.
After a bit of pre-race stretching and getting photographed for the Bournemouth Echo, 9am soon came around and the we all made our way off towards Poole Quay before splitting from the 10K runners as we headed along the gravel track on the edge of Upton lake before going off road and completing a lap of Upton Country Park.
At the halfway point, despite the sweltering heat I felt good and was enjoying the scenery that made me wonder why I haven’t spent much time in Poole, despite only working a few miles up the road. I had quite a few chats with various other runners on the long stint back along the lake and as the weather got hotter, my pace began to slow, albeit not too much but it made me appreciate the water stations that were well stocked and frequent.
The hotter second half!
Not too long after we arrived back in town and we retraced our steps back along the quay where the streets that were empty when we set off were now full of people cheering us on. I was quite envious of all people sat outside the various waterside pubs with their sweaty pints of lager or cider and I knew I only had about 3 miles to go before I could do the same. This 3 miles proved to be hard work as I headed a mile or so past Poole park before coming back round to the finish at the same place where I started, crossing the line 1:53:29, a new PB for me which I was very pleased with considering the temperature!
Summary and beer!
After collecting my rather large yet attractive medal and goodie bag full of leaflets, I waited a few minutes for my mate to finish before we both headed for the beer tent where we agreed we’d be celebrating our achievements whilst sat on the grass supping a cold pint!
Although I nearly didn’t run the Poole half marathon to compete in the Wiltshire Road Race League event instead, I’m glad I made the right decision and would highly recommend it. The festival goes on throughout the weekend with live music and entertainment and there was such a good vibe around the small race village.
Along the route I have never seen so many marshals, mostly comprising members of The Poole Runners who were all very enthusiastic and supportive. I was initially concerned that there was a two and a half hour cut-off time which seemed quite ‘elitist’ to me although I assume there are limitations on road closures, but it was nice to see they were letting people finish well over this time.
All in all, a great race which the organisers have done themselves proud and I would certainly consider running it again next year.