March Half Marathons

March is peak Half-Marathon season. It's both part of the warm-up schedule for the London Marathon in April and also just the right temperature for running. It's not too cold to be icy and dangerous, and not too warm either. I hate running in the heat, so it made sense to pack in a few Halves in March for Growlerthon.


Bath Half Marathon

When: March 1st 2015
Where: Bath, Somerset, UK
Course: on roads on a 2 lap loop around the river Avon.
Other routes touched: Kennet & Avon Canal, River Avon Trail, Cotswold Way, NCN 4,244, Linear Park, Bristol-Bath Cycle Track,
Finish time: 1:57

Bath was a proper test for me as it was the first major run since the Ultramarathon 6 weeks before. I'd taken it easy since then, sticking to my weekly Parkruns and keeping an eye on my knee which had been annoying me since the Ultra. Timi and I made a weekend of it and had a nice afternoon and evening in the city the day before. The Sunday was a good arrangement: I would get up early for the run and Timi would do some shopping and meet me at the end.

The start wasn't promising. With such a large crowd, nearly 13,000 runners, we were told to get to the race village early. I got there 2 hours before the start just as it started chucking it down. There weren't many places to hide but luckily I was running for MacMillan Cancer Support and they had their own tent. I hid there as long as possible before getting to the start line. I took a fetching green poncho and went to the start with still another cold hour to go.

The route was great, 2 laps of the roads around a stretch of the River Avon plus some of the town centre. A large field of runners plus a city location meant a large crowd of spectators to support us. There were also several MacMillan cheering spots with volunteers looking out for runners in their t-shirts to give them an extra bit of encouragement.

The final bit of encouragement was Timi waiting for me at the final mile. I always love seeing her there at the end. My finish time was 1:57:21, just under my normal time of 1:56, but a good confirmation that I was fully recovered from the Ultra.

 

North London Half Marathon

When: March 17th 2015
Where: North London, UK
Course: North London roads between Allianz Stadium Barnet & Wembley Stadium. Flat
Other routes touched: Capital Ring
Finish time: 1:55

North London was a new event for 2015, an out-and-back route between Barnet and Wembley. What could have been a rather uninteresting location was livened up by the start and middle points in large stadiums. The start and end was at Allianz Park, home to the Saracens rugby team. Mo Farah, the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner, was at the start line. I had expected him to be running rather than waving everyone off though.

Wembley Stadium at the halfway point was a big boost. I’ve been there many times for concerts, and running through the middle, via the players’ tunnel was a great experience. The MacMillan cheering spot was also in the stadium, another highlight of that section.

At the finish I came in at at 1:55:41, about a minute and a half faster than Bath.

 

Brooklands Half Marathon

When: March 22nd 2015
Where: Mercedes World at Brooklands, Surrey, UK
Course: Loops of the Mercedes World race track and out onto residential roads around Weybridge
Other routes touched: Lochs and Levels SCC, River Wey Navigation, Thames Path, NCN 4
Finish time: 1:54

Brooklands, just inside the M25 in Surrey, was the worlds first purpose built motor racing circuit and has a long aviation history. It was was one of Britain’s first airfields and was a major aircraft manufacturing site before WW2. The race track and airfield have been closed for many years, but the recent redevelopment has been kind to it and you can still see parts of the old track and airfield.

Mercedes-Benz World, now in the centre of the site, has its own visitor centre and race track. This was the base for the Brooklands Half with the first and last 2.5 miles around its track. The middle 8 miles took us out of Brooklands and into a pleasant circuit of neighbouring Weybridge. This was definitely the most interesting of this month’s 3 Halves and one of the best of my 21 Halves so far.

My finish time for this one was 1:54:22, nearly another minute off and well within my target. I was especially pleased as this time as I had been working in the US the previous week and was coping with lack of sleep and jet lag too.

 

By April it starts to get a bit warm for me to do the big runs so I’m swapping running for cycling until the Autumn. Time to buy a new road bike and get ready for July’s Lands-End to John O’Groats adventure.

Richard gowerComment