Great performances, great social, Great Bentley Half Marathon

Sunday 8th February saw the 9th running of the annual Great Bentley Half Marathon, excellently hosted again by Great Bentley Running Club. The day saw some amazing results from all the Flyers, PBs a plenty and an excellent social once again at Pete and Maggie’s Pub, The Live and Let Live, (that could almost be a mission statement for the Flyers!)

So, on with the race report from my point of view. As most of you will know work has recently got in the way of my training somewhat, and although I’m running more, I’m not at the mileage levels of previous years. As a result I came to the race feeling a bit underprepared, a bit “meh! “ about the whole thing.

November December January
2014/2015 29 75 77
2013/2014 95 63 76
2012/2013 34 18 59
2011/2012 132 84 145

Training mileage in months leading up to Gt Bentley in previous years

2012 had been the last time I achieved a ½ marathon PB, so looking at my splits from my PB (also at Gt Bentley) and thinking about my training and comparing it to previous years I thought the best thing was to be realistic and have a go at 8min miles and see how long I could hang on! “Meh!” indeed.

Ideal Race Prep

Ideal Race Prep?


Pre race prep was a home-made beef curry and race and a 4 pack, yup, I was really planning to go for it in the morning. A bath, finished my book, started a new book, not a particularly early night. Morning came, normal routine pre race, tea, big bowl of Alpen, more tea. Catherine arrived and we left for the race.





Got ready, eventually after a couple of cuppas and a bit of a chat. Andy considered his 3rd breakfast and shared too many details about Matt Campbell’s race habits! Still I thought, not really up for it. I got chatting to a couple of ladies in the car next to me as I got ready, it was their first ½ as they trained for London, they quizzed me for advice and confessed they felt like they were taking drugs as they had a gel in the car!

“You go first,”

“No, you! Are we doing it right?”

I shared some pearls of wisdom and declared I was off for a warm up. “How far?” they said. “Just a mile,” I replied “Really?” came the response. I didn’t bother in the end.

Start line beckoned, had a chat with a few people I know from parkrun and elsewhere. Selfie time.

Flyers on a start line?  Must be selfie time!

Flyers on a start line? Must be selfie time!


Must be nearly time to go. My mind was still fixed on 8 min miles, a niggle in my quad and tight calves confirmed it.


Snigger. Beaver

After a brief wait, a few more photos, and some enthusiastic klaxon action from a young man, we were off! Clear the crowds I thought, a quick blast and a look down at my watch, 7:30. Feels all right I thought, let’s try to keep it around 7:45 a mile. The plan was slipping.

Paul Heard steamed past me on his way to an impressive 1:34:59. Miles ahead already were all the faster Flyers, storming off from near the front of the start line. Bosco was in my sights ahead, catch Bosco I thought, slow and steady. The mile splits stayed nice and consistent and slowly I drew him in, passing him around 5 miles.

As always I broke the race up into chunks. Get to 5 miles, have a gel at the station. Get to 8 miles (5miles to go) have a gel at the water station. Get to 10 miles, just a parkrun to go. These little mental tricks make the miles tick along nicely. Well, that and the leggy blonde I chased for about 7 miles, she was swift! Took me ages to catch her! Once I caught up with her, carry on pushing on.

Bosco looking relaxed as always

Bosco looking relaxed as always

I thought I’d gone through half way in 53 mins. Bang! Nailed on PB I thought, carry on pushing and see how much under I can get, this could be 5 minutes! 1:40:15 was the time to beat, one I’d run consecutively at Gt Bentley and Southend halves in 2012, to the second! As I ran on I realised that my maths had failed by about 3 minutes!. Still on, but more push needed.


The earlier doubt about my fitness had faded into the back of my mind as I kept the pace around 7:30 to 7:40 but reaching 10 miles I realised I was going to have to go all in for the last 3 to grab that elusive PB. No one passed me and slowly I reeled the people in front in. Mile 11, 7:33, mile 12, 7:30, mile 13, 7:29. I was doing it! “F**k you legs,” I shouted as a quad cried in pain and the opposite hamstring threatened to buckle. 400 to go, 200 to go. Don’t look at the watch, just push.

I forgot the finish was on grass. I always hate that. Saps your rhythm and is a bit uneven. Ahead I could hear the finished Flyers calling. Snot flying from my nose, Scotty-like grunts issuing from my mouth. Push. Through the line. 1:39:34.

Get in. 39 second PB.

Take that mojo! Take that legs!

My hamstrings were crying out, Sean obliged with some dodgy looking assisted stretches (cheers mate) and I settled down to hear the tales of daring do and see the rest of the Flyers come in.

It was firsts and PBs everywhere! The first half for Anne, Josanne, Catherine, Dan, Sam L, Vicky and Anna) and probably more! Sorry I didn’t get to speak to everyone ). And PBs for me J, Rachael, Rich, Andy, Elliott, Kev (after hating it last time), Graham, Sam C, Mikki, Jo, Colin and I’m sure some more. Sorry if I missed you.

Some were keen to share their success with t’interwebs

Some were keen to share their success with t’interwebs

After getting ourselves together and having had a well deserved cuppa, we all decamped to the pub. On offer was real ale and sausages! Both were excellent and I think it safe to say that we swelled the takings and everyone had a great time dissecting, celebrating and discussing their runs. Massive thanks to Pete and Maggie as always for their hospitality.

So, some good omens. 2012 was also the year of my marathon PB, maybe this is the year again if I can keep the training consistent?

Well done one and all, another Fantastic Flyers Frolic. Thanks to all for the support, camaraderie, laughs and advice.


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