It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be stood on the sidelines, a bacon roll in one hand and a coffee in the other, watching everyone else run the St Neots Riverside Half Marathon. I have however discovered I have much less self control that I thought which has caused me to buy a race number off someone who has wimped out of competing today, I mean was unable to attend.
So we drive an hour and a half down the A1 to discover that, to my untrained eye at least, the race isn’t actually in St Neots and isn’t down the riverside. We appear to actually be in Eynesbury which is next door to St Neots, so perhaps close enough. The river though is not in evidence anywhere. No matter it’s supposed to be a scenic run anyway, river or not. Well it may have been a scenic route but it’s difficult to tell as everything is under a very heavy mist for most of the day. Still I’m sure it was very nice.
It’s also quiet cold. We leave Nottingham at a barmy 6 degrees but as we head south the temperature actually dips into the negative on occasion. Neither of us has brought any cold weather kit with us, long sleeves etc. I haven’t even got my running gloves and make do with a fleece pair I had in the car.
The 1200 places sold out long ago but despite operating a transfer window system for those who bottled it; there are still only 950 on the start line. What is it with competitors? Nice warm bed too big a pull was it? Hmmm.
Even with 950 it’s still a bit congested in the first few miles on the narrow roads around here and I tread on a few toes. We also cause chaos with the local traffic and annoy dozens of car drivers. I’m not sure how they got away with that but I’m all for a bit of traffic annoyance.
The reason for the congestion is maybe because I’m directly behind the 1:45 pacers, along with about 200 other people. What we need is a nice big hill to drop say 190 of them off the back but aside from one cheeky short incline through one of the villages it’s a relatively flat course. I could actually quite fancy a gentle 1:45 today and being wedged in with them at least stops me setting off at a suicidal pace. This pace though, 7:25 for mile one and 7:37 for mile two, isn’t exactly 1:45 pace, they should be doing 8:00s.
Overall it’s a very well organised race and an honourable mention goes to the marshals, of whom there were many and all were very encouraging, if occasionally in a ‘I’m glad it’s not me running this’ sort of way. The drinks stations (four of them) all had bottled water, which is much better than cups and they even had jelly babies. Although I had to decline because I’m trying to give them up as I can’t breathe and chew at the same time. Plus the girl who was handing them out them had a bit of a dispense problem and most of them were ending up on the floor. She needs to work on that. The only thing missing for a perfect race was the training. My training that is e.g. the lack of it.
So loosely enjoyable and the flat (apparently slightly downhill) last three miles meant that even I had a fast-ish finish as I tried to keep ahead of those 1:45 pacers.
Race HQ was at the local leisure centre, yet the start was amongst a housing estate and the finish at a nearby school. It was actually quite a long way back to the HQ, well it is if you’re crawling there. It takes me so long to get there that my name is already up on the results when I arrive. The queues for the massages are already quite long and the masseurs don’t look that gentle either, or attractive, so I head back to the car to get the boys.
L finishes before I get back to the finish, ahead of schedule again. I wish she’d slow down; she’ll be overtaking me soon if she keeps this up. She’s just outside her season’s best which she did at Birmingham last month.
The T-shirts are long sleeve, of the technical variety and predominately red but they’re not too bad. They have a bit of a supply error though and L doesn’t get the small size she ordered, or even a medium for that matter.
L offers to drive back home and I happily hand over the reins.
In the evening we refresh down the Admiral Rodney with Broadside and decent enough food. I was impressed with the size of my ‘Codfather’. There was enough for two dogs as well as for me.
(Sunday 20th November)
Sense of place
1 day ago