[Thanks to Alex Kiel for this report]
Last Sunday (5 March, 2017) will, I have no doubt at all, go down as a memorable day in my running journey. Not only was it my first half marathon, but it was also my first time racing for the Vegetarian Cycling and Athletic Club.
The race …. Haweswater Half Marathon.
Beforehand I had heard the race described in many ways from flat to undulating to very hilly. I made it out to be over 1300 ft of climbing throughout the course so I would put it in the latter category, personally.
Coming into the race I was quietly optimistic of a good performance, one month on from a good personal best at the (long) Dewsbury 10k, and with around 475 miles of running in the legs so far this calendar year.
On to the race…
Half a mile into it, I was a part of a group of four leading. At this stage I was very comfortable and able to set the pace for a while. From one mile out until the five mile point, over the undulating terrain, I was still with the leading four, but honestly just about clinging on to the back of the group.
With the wondrous spectacle of snow-capped peaks and the immensity of the reservoir as the backdrop, at the 5 mile point we suddenly passed a copse of trees and the road went up: and up, and up. A gap quickly opened between me and the others (mountain goats!), and it was not long before the three of them disappeared up the road.
From then on in I would be running by myself to the finish, even allowing myself some time to revel in the spectacular vistas produced by Haweswater and its frame of hills. However, as it was an out and back course I had the honour of passing all of the other runners. And it really was an honour: hundreds of times I heard ‘well done’ and I was more than glad to respond just about as many times! Certainly one of the friendliest races I have ever been a part of.
Fourth place it was, then, in a time of 1:15:05. In the end I was a good 2:30 behind the race winner, but I have no complaints about being behind three quality, experienced half marathon runners. All things considered I am very happy with my first half marathon, so soon in my running journey, especially as it was a hard one.
The fact that I was one place out of the prizes (for the second race running!), is more than made up for by the fact that I can say I have a completed a half marathon and I have raced for the Vegetarian Cycling and Athletic Club.
Back to the 5k distance, and below, for me now. However, if you want a beautiful, friendly yet hard half marathon – a real challenge – then I strongly recommend this Eden Runners’ race.