A20 Half Marathon Review – By Scotty
This is the third year I have done this Half Marathon – and it wont be the last. Sean first introduced this race to me three years ago, and as the name suggests it’s by the A20 in Kent.
I will begin with the hill. It has the biggest hill I have ever come across in a race. Benfleet 15, Essex Way, LOSS 10K – this hill makes them look like slopes – I kid you not. I am sure I have spoken about this hill in great detail in the previous race reviews for the A20 , so wont go into much more detail other than to say – its huge and goes for about a mile around mile 4 of the course.
However this is a PB course, once you climb the hill, you can really get up some speed up to Mile 11. Even then its not what you would call hilly – but trust me when I say its a fast course. Nearly everyone who runs this race, walks away with a PB – assuming they are looking for one of course.
This year I was not looking for a PB, I have not run over 8 miles for some months, so was not in good condition to give this a good go, however, I love the race. Sean suggested we did it again, and Lloyd, myself and Sean all signed up. This grew to Matibini from Leigh on Striders, and Dave Miller from Benfleet Running Club joining us in signing up. I warned the latter about the hill but assured them it was a fast course – I felt safe knowing that everyone of our group last year all got PB’s.
Unfortunately, Sean damaged his ankle a few weeks prior to the race and had to pull out, so in stepped Elliott a previous A20 runner. Last minute sign up Ian Berhardt also joined the band of men. We were all set. Except Lloyd. Why? He decided that would be doing the A20 FULL marathon – madness beyond madness but hats off – I say that a lot when I mention Lloyd and races!
To the day. The day was windy – really windy, but off we went to meet at the Mercure Hotel in Maidstone, which is just a short walk from the start. Race number collection is easy, and no-queuing and hassle free. It is worth noting, that the field is small for both the full and the half. Full having around 50 runners, with the half having 290 runners. I think this is why I like the race, small and friendly. I do like large city marathons, but this just seems to feel right – every year. The organizers do well to keep it no-nonsense but not to the detriment of the quality feel of the race.
The race itself is along a narrow path for around 3 miles, it does make overtaking difficult so it does pay to position yourself in the filed correctly at the start, but as it is a small field, you don’t need to worry too much. You then turn into country lanes, up “that” hill, and run through some nice countryside albeit on roads which are not closed, but very quiet. You then run through a little village, and back on to the A20.
A good number of water stations, with some offering jelly babies, and soft drinks if needed. The finish is downhill so quite fast if you fancy a sprint finish. You get a nice medal, and there is plenty of water at the finish, as well as a food stall.
By the time I had crossed the line around 1.48 (not match fit – I promise), I was shortly followed by Ian who also, like me was suffering from a lack of distance running – both of us still pleased to have completed the distance. I saw Elliott, Mati and Dave Miller walking towards me – I had strong bets on Mati winning it – so was keen to hear his time – 1:22! He was 5th overall, but did say he almost quit on the hill – glad it tested you mate. I would like to point out I made it to the top without walking!! David came in with an impressive 1:28 followed by Elliott who was cursing the hill, but still with a very impressive 1:31. All in all everyone was very happy with their times – if not the hill 🙂 I did find out the chap who won it (1:14) represents Switzerland in Hill Running – so he ain alf bad then! Lloyd completed the full marathon in 4:04 which is fantastic as he had three of those hills!
My one complaint, for the last two years, we have been able to use the hotel pool, showers, Jacuzzi and showers for no cost. This year, the showers were available but we had to pay £10 for the facilities (if we wanted to use the pool etc). I did not mind this, but this nice little extra each year made the race that bit special, so it felt it was not that special anymore by having to pay for it. Its nice to have shower and come home human, but I am a sucker for sauna and a Jacuzzi.
All in all a great small race, and one the Flyers should consider for next year, its the perfect race with lots to talk about after – you will love it!