Suzanne Davis reports…..
I felt a little bit under pressure for this half marathon and really wanted a good time but I wasn’t sure how flat the course was going to be. Thankfully conditions on the day were better than expected – what looked to be wet and windy actually turned out to be a nice sunny day.
This race has been taking place for the past 17 years and this year the date had been moved from July to September to help make it a ‘cooler’ event. It’s not a massive race (around 500 or so runners) but it’s extremely friendly and professionally run. The HQ was The Webber Independent School in Milton Keynes and as such facilities were great. A well organised bag-drop, a fair number of toilets (which still had toilet roll and hand wash at the end!), massage available both pre and post-race for a reasonable £5 donation and a frenetic, uber-happy warm up! There were water stops at every 5k manned by a large, cheery bunch of volunteers and good cheering points along the route.
Two races, both a 10k and the half marathon (chip-timed) started at the same time of 10am. Described as a fast, flat 2-lap course, I found it fairly undulating to say the least, particularly at the mid-point running up a hill to some kind of pinnacle in a park! As it was a 2-lap course I knew I’d have that joy another time too but it also meant I knew when I could go for it and when the more difficult sections were coming up.
The route was mostly on what Milton Keynes refers to as ‘red-routes’, effectively a pedestrian / cycle route all of which either run alongside the main roads or underneath them, so it’s a traffic free route. It’s quite scenic running through the woodlands and Campbell Park, up and over bridges and underneath the underpasses, with the final lap running alongside the Grand Union Canal for part of the way. I found the number of sharp turns on the route quite challenging and these definitely slowed me down. With that all said, I was told at mile 7 that I was 1st Lady, which I had absolutely no idea about! This both terrified and shocked me and when the marshall asked if I wanted to know how far behind the other lady was, I said no! She then decided to cycle the rest of the course with me and then another marshall joined her on a bike too. I must admit, although they were offering well meaning, helpful hints and words of encouragement, it was a little off-putting. That said, it was fairly cool when they rode ahead ringing their bells to announce that the first lady was coming through and the cheers were amazing too. I don’t think I’ll ever forget my husband Julian’s face when he realised what position I was in – he looked so proud!
Thankfully I managed to maintain my position and made it home as 1st Lady in 1:32:04, a PB for me by just over a minute. I think I was 40th out of 564 runners if I’ve understood the results correctly. We were given a lovely medal (which you could get engraved on site), water, a protein drink and a cereal chocolate bar thing on finishing, the basics, which was great as all of the money paid for entry went entirely to the NSPCC. I was thrilled to be awarded a ridiculously large trophy and £75 of vouchers to spend at an Up and Running store. I still can’t quite believe it!