Super Flyers Go PB-Tastic even though the hills are quite atrocious! – A20 Half Marathon Review

After taking part in this race last year, I remember it being a small field and a good race for the end of the year.  Perfect. What I did forget, or rather to what scale, was the HUGE hill at mile 3 – something I never want to see again!

I persuaded Peter Cole and Elliott Cone that this race has good PB potential, and along with Lloyd Richardson making his return to the race, we set off to Kent to see how we would fair.

Elliott, Scotty, Lloyd, Elliott displaying their medals.

Elliott, Scotty, Lloyd, Elliott displaying their medals.

En-route, Peter was saying how he planned to attack the hill and run around a 6:20 pace,  Lloyd and I suggested he was somewhat ambitious with this plan – I could see in Pete’s face he was now doubting entering the race, and maybe because I was looking at him and not concentrating on the road,  he did look worried.  “Don’t worry, it is downhill after that” I said with some confidence, but I am not sure if he bought it.

We arrived in perfect running conditions, overcast, cool and no rain.  One big draw for me is that the start/finish is at the Mercure Hotel, where they allow you to use the swimming pool, jacuzzi, and sauna after the race.  We arrived to a small field of around 180 runners.    We warmed up, and I could see Pete gazing up the road from the start line towards the incline ahead – “sorry mate – but that aint it” I said rather sheepishly.  “It’s 3 miles away yet”

The start of the race is up a narrow path, but due to the small field it does not pose too many issues, I could see Lloyd ahead me about half a mile, and in the distance the famous orange on Pete and Elliott who had gone off at a cracking pace.  Then the hill came!  800m of slog, burning calf muscles, and aching quads!  Now, I am known for my hatred of hills, but this one really is a monster.  I don’t mind admitting,  I walked up it, as did most of the field around me.  It is just horrible.  In fact the only person who did not walk up it – was Lloyd.  Made of steely stuff that man!  a20climbPeter did admit to me after the race, that he almost stopped, turned around to find me, and tell me exactly what he thought of the hill.  It was only the fact Elliott was hot on his heel which saved me a proper earful.

However, once you conquer the beast, the course does give you a good chance to make up for lost time with a great down hill section where you can really whip up some good speed.  Despite the walking, all of us managed to bag a PB – mainly due to the downhill sections and of course a certain amount of Flyers grit and determination added in there.  Times, Scotty 1:42:24, Lloyd 1:39:40, Elliot 1:29:11, Peter 1:28:08. I managed to take 20+seconds off my time, as did Lloyd, Elliott broke 1:30 for the first time and Pete continues his impressive run of personal bests.

Nice medals at the end,  and the ability to have a shower make this a good race for the calendar, and certainly if you are prepared to hurt, a PB in the making.

Well organised, chip timed and only an hour from home.  Worth the visit for sure – and I think Elliott and Peter have forgiven me…..just about.

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