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Sunday 15 April 2012

Complex Mathematics

This was the first running of the Worcester Half and Full Marathon, so a few minor teething problems can be forgiven but as it was put on by an experienced ‘events’ company, Threshold, I’m not sure why they fell down on as many things as they did. Right from the off directions to the venue were a bit basic for a non local. There weren’t any. Just a venue, with a post code I suppose, but not even a sign from the nearby motorway.

The promised the 'small' parking charge turned out to be a hefty £3. Small = 50p. This caused a major tailback that backed up all the way down the dual carriageway as everyone had a whip-round in their pockets to find the cash. If you are going to charge for parking then either add it to the entry fee or at least disclose the amount to us in advance.

We were early enough to avoid the worst of the queue and could take advantage of the facilities at the Sixways Rugby Stadium. It was nice to have proper facilities as opposed to the usual portaloos.

The result of parking debacle was a delayed start by 15 minutes and a problem trying to keep warm. The start was on a very narrow country lane that presented little in the way of warming-up opportunities, nor vantage points for spectators but my father hadn’t made it to this one.

Once we started the route turned out to be pleasant enough. Scenic countryside with a few playful hills. In fact they took us up one almost straight from the start, which was a nice touch. At least, as I know we do this bit again in reverse, the finish will be down it. We were soon past the 13 mile point... Blimey that was a short run, about 12 minutes, a PB and a world record or is that sign just for the full marathon? Yes, some 200 folks are going to go around this course twice.

The route took us through villages and past local pubs, where there were plenty of spectators cheering everyone on but none of them were offering beer. Only sports drink in cups as well as water in bottles. Although I would have liked water before 4.5 miles and on the information sheet four drinks stations were promised but only three were delivered.

The weather was good, it started out chilly but soon warmed up. Well I warmed up, I’m not sure L did but then she’s a girl.

Although billed as the 'Worcester' half, we didn’t appear to go anywhere near the place. Perhaps in future it would be nice to take in some of it, if that’s possible and perhaps a stadium finish? As a first attempt though, it wasn't bad, a good turnout and a nice friendly feel.

They told us before we started that the 11 and 24 mile markers had been stolen, what they didn't mention was that miles 6, 7, 8 and 9 had gone AWOL too, along with the associated marathon distances. The organisers seem to think this was a ‘targeted removal’ rather than a prank, perhaps by the impatient driver who tried to mow half the field down. The roads weren't closed to traffic but most drivers were patient and considerate, some weren’t but that’s normal.

I was aiming for steady-ish but not too steady 8 minute miles, the lack of mile markers stuffed this as I continually tried to average my time out over more and more miles until my head exploded at the complexity of the maths of it all.

I also got blocked by a car on the downhill finish that I was so looking forward to it. Then it was a surprise to be diverted down the canal towpath at the end, which was a bit narrow, making overtaking difficult as people lifted their pace towards the finish. At least I didn't wobble into the canal.

The 26 mile marker also seemed well adrift from where it should have been, good job it didn't apply to me but it should have indicated .2 to go. Although us ‘halves’ had to do an annoying final loop around a cone, it still seemed well out of place.

Oddly there was no clock at finish line but my time of 1:49 isn’t bad considering, although I had targeted a 1:48. I’m handed a rather nice T- shirt. Yay, in cotton, so I can go out to the pub in it tonight. I’m a bit sick of technical t-shirts. They even seem to have enough in smaller sizes, which is a first because although I pick up a ‘small’ for L and she picks up a ‘medium’ for me there are still plenty of ‘smalls’ left.

The massages are outside and the two masseurs look a bit evil, so I skip that and rescue the dogs from the car instead. We wait for L, who does another decent time. Not as quick as Reading but this was a lot hillier and we did both run yesterday.

In the evening we do a mini pub tour on the ‘wrong’ side of town:- Vat and Fiddle, Canalhouse and the Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem ending up at the Laguna Tandoori for a well earned curry. A very good night.

(Sunday 15th April)

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