A hilly race for a hot day…..North Downs Half Marathon

Bang crash wallop, 0530 Sunday morning, I get rudely awoke by the Cory man emptying the bins in my road, what the hell, where am I…Why am I so tired, bloody hell, my alarm isn’t set for 0630…Oh well I’m up now and its RACE WEEKEND, for the people that have read my reports you’ll know by now for me its all about these weekends…..OK maybe the pub too on a Wednesday but this is why I run…Hang on its raining, its July, my thoughts turn to the cancellation of the Para 10 race a couple weeks before and still thinking it was a strange decision due to unusual weather, it was hot in July not really that unusual, maybe they’ll cancel this one too and I can go back to bed.

IMG_0784Car arrangements all sorted I meet Mark at Aldi in Westcliff, Scotty arrives to drive already confirming our thoughts he had the hump that not only was he running a trail run but it was wet and it was hilly. Apparently really hilly. Its 0745 and Richard has confirmed he’s arrived and its not that many people there, we joked how we aren’t really surprised, the race doesn’t start till 0930, but you have to admire his eagerness and excitement, but considering I’m used to being nearly late with Jo, I thought we’ve got this timing in the bag, until we get lost. We park up near the event and head to the start which was at Reigate Golf course, turns out we parked miles away, which I think was my fault and we arrive with two minutes to spare greeted by the usually friendly flyers welcome who were waiting for us with our race numbers. I’m sweating like I’ve run a 10k already, Sam is asking me loads of questions and I’m dishing out supplies to Andy and Jo, harassed is an understatement and I spend all week at work being harassed but I was feeling it today.

IMG_0795We head over to the start line, I’m ready, quick starting line selfie and head to listen to the briefing. The race was described as a challenging and hilly trail half marathon and with some warnings off of previous participants we were warned it was brutal. A little bit of a laugh and a joke, Scotty trying to make friends with a girl in a harbour patrol t shirt just in case he fell in a ditch and drowned she was going to save him and we were off. The course was and out and back on the same track and started off with basically 1.5 miles of uphill, probably the toughest start to a race I’ve ever had, Jo and I settled in and Scotty Just behind us, Mark and Andy had gunned it off and Richard, Sam and William tagged behind us. Scotty dropped off the back and the way Jo was starting off I was keen to do the same. But then the first real advantage of trail running, it flattened off and wow what a view across the whole area down into the valley.   The course then headed into the woods and a huge downhill, a kind of downhill that hurt your ankles and quads trying to break, great we will have to get back up this. Approaching the half way mark and we see Mark Farthing absolutely gunning it and in about 10th place not really even trying, the final half a mile to the turn around point is up hill, surprise surprise and a big hill, so after a little pit stop we head up see Andy and everyone telling us not far now…Piss off everyone keeps telling us this and it keeps going up, we reach the turn point, turn round and who’s caught up, Scotty, hot, sweaty and very sweary, he needed a parental guidance warning with what was being said. I’ll skip the next bit of the race as its just the reverse…Hang on a minute I hear you ask what about the big hill you run down how did that go…Well we walked it obviously. The last few miles click by ok and I had finally settle in, not long left, the race had gone ok and the whole 2nd half Scotty, Jo and I had run it together, well until the last 200 metres, single file Jo in front, Scotty then me, through the kissing gate went Jo, slammed it shut on Scotty and sprinted off much to Scotty’s disbelief that she’d done it he kicked to try and chase her down to choruses of laughter….Pretty much what these days are all about.

Overall the course was great, a nice small field, friendly support crews and a very challenging course. But for me I was more IMG_0794impressed with the smaller details, the medal was awesome but the food stations were brilliant, Flapjacks, Brownies, Branded Carb gels, Jelly Babies. A really nice touch. A massive congratulations to all that took part but hats off to Mark who came in 5th place and a massive go away to the modest person in 2nd place who took great pride in telling us he doesn’t really run. Would I do it again yeah but I would like to do it a little less race weary, As for the others I’m sure they will, I even have a feeling Scotty might too…How about the Marathon version?


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