When Frank said he was going to do a half marathon in his old neck of the woods where he grew up and asked if anyone wanted to join him, I was sorely tempted. Jacqui said she didn’t want to miss out, so then we had a full car with Phil Young and Naz taking the other seats.
We decided to just enter on the day and thankfully there were still plenty of places available – in fact I’ve never ran in such a small race, with only 50-odd online entries taken up and a dozen or so entries on the day.
On the way over I had suggested we run as a team at a nine minute mile pace as Frank and Naz had just done York marathon the weekend before. And as I wasn’t fully fit (still having niggles with my knee), we agreed to give it a go.
All the runners gathered in the school car park for a safety briefing. It was bad enough that it was cold and windy but just as the announcements were being read out, the rain started in earnest! Some of the runners took to huddling in the bus stop by the main road. Unfortunately, however, although it was a small field, we couldn’t all fit in there!
The gun went off and we went up the hill out of the village taking a left onto a steep rise with all the Saltwell team running together. We hit the first mile marker on 9 minutes 1 second so all was on track. It was about here that Phil took his gloves off and upped his pace, leaving the four of us sticking to our original game plan. The elevation map in race HQ showed a steady climb uphill for the first six miles and downhill for the next few but it didn’t seem that hard when we were out there in the drizzle and breeze – perfect running conditions for me. We slowed slightly at the first water station at the four mile mark whilst Jacqui took a gel with her drink but we were all still feeling comfortable. The mile markers were flying by as we kept each other company and the half way mark and highest point were reached within 58 mins. Then we had a bit of fun with a few downhills – opening our stride a bit a making up a few seconds on the pace.
At 8 miles there was another water station just before a bit of a steep hill but we just kept pushing and kept together. We even had time to take in the views which isn’t something I normally do – I usually just focus on the road and the clock but today was all about enjoying it.
And we were.
At the 11 mile sign, Frank spotted one of his pals marshalling but she couldn’t be persuaded to let us take the direct route back to the village, so after the briefest of ‘Hello’ and ‘Glad you made it’, it was onwards and upwards. As the last mile approached, Frank and Jacqui stepped it up a bit. Naz was slipping by a few yards and I just tried to maintain what I was doing.
Down the hill and back into the village, across the road in to the school yard and we were at the finish – all finishing within 30 seconds of each other in 1 hour 57 minutes. I told you I was aiming at nine minute miles, so how’s that for pacing?
Phil finished in 23rd place in 1hr 50 and we were 38th to 41st
This was the first running of this Half and I’d seriously recommend it. Beautifully scenic route, great, friendly marshals and souvenir mug full of hot soup as you finish – which makes a change from a t-shirt.
I’d like to nominate this as a candidate for the Captain’s Race next year (not that I’m captain, obviously) it was that good. We all absolutely loved it.