Firstly, I have to admit that I only entered this race for the medal. I have a lot of back to back race weekends starting in the middle of May but as it is near where my parents live I thought I might as well go and take it easy and get a glittery trainer for my wall out of it and my mother would get to see me race. The race starts and ends at Milton Keynes stadium (I didn’t even know they had a football team) which is a couple of miles out from the centre. Facilities were pretty great, with lots and lots of nice clean toilets, places to sit, open space to warm up, etc, and the start line was just outside so everything was effortless and very well organised. I even managed to find some Warrington Running Club people who had travelled down that morning with Paul Gurney (I’m not the only one drawn to pretty medals).
There was around 1600 half marathon finishers but also 2100 for the marathon, but we all started and ran together for the first 10 miles. The course is mainly on closed roads but most of the final mile is on a trail around (what seems like) a very very large pond with evil geese. A lot of the route takes you down road where you turn around and come back on the other side which is a little soul destroying but I was prepared for this. I had not anticipated the length and the number of hills though. Hardly any of the course is flat and the hills, whilst not steep, go on forever (think Broad Lane). As you spent a lot of time running back on yourself, whenever you went downhill (the down hills where always first) you’d know you’d be doing the same road the opposite way pretty soon.
By mile 5 my leg was cramping during the uphills (the muscle I didn’t know I had until I ran up Rivington Pike) and so I ended up having to walk three times which I’m a bit disappointed about. I hadn’t done a run longer than 6 miles since the beginning of April so I forgot about reserving energy but I could have probably pushed myself a bit more than I did but I still knocked more than five minutes off my first half marathon time. It was quite a hot day but we had four water stations (one with energy drinks) on the route (Warning, probably best to use waterproof sunscreen if you’re going to pour water over your head every 3 miles, will remember that next time). There were also three lots of toilets on the route (ironically, first race where I haven’t needed the toilet whilst running), singers, drummers, belly dancers and amazing spectators and crazy funny marshals the entire way around, so the support and atmosphere more than made up for the hills.