Will and Rich go to the Kimbolton Half Marathon – A review.

Another Sunday and alarm call set for 6am, another race. This time it was a trip to Cambridgeshire to the pretty village of Kimbolton, famous for being the only estate of King Harold in Huntingdonshire, a hamlet largely dominated by Kimbolton Castle, where Katherine of Aragon was prisoned after her divorce from Henry VIII, and where she also died. Now, none of this was in the pre race information, but as the race was held in the grounds of a Castle it deserved some post race wiki investigation.Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 20.20.47

We set of at 7am, for the 10am start. It’s known we do like to arrive earlier than most, but I’m working hard on not always arriving before the organisers tip up, and I think we pitched this about right. Parking in the large school car-park (the castle is now a rather grand school) at 8.45am, with time to pick up our numbers, get ahead of the looqueue, and have a pre-race coffee, fully co-ordinate our run look and relax.

See the looqueue growing by the minute, luckily for the boys, there was a boys communal loo 🙂

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On our last race together, the North Downs Half, we agreed a plan, we would enjoy the sights and hills of the NDH, but race together the Kimbolton and try and get something close to Will’s PB. Fine words indeed, but to be honest neither of us felt that way pre race. I’d been up very late the night before taking photos of the star-trails, Will was also late to bed had slept through his snooze alarm. My pre race carb loading was one of those variety packs of Rice Krispies, you know the ones, child size portions, Will forgot his jelly babies. To be honest, we both felt a bit lazy so we quickly revised the race strategy, we would just take it easy (again) and enjoy the run, enjoy the pretty villages, and we agreed a target time of 2.15 would be fine, so that was plugged into my watch, I was unofficial pacer.

The race organisation was very efficient and we were off prompt at 10am. I’m not sure on numbers, but I’d guess at 300-400 runners. We set off fast (for us), contrary to plan, we reassured ourselves that as Keith says, we were building time in the bank. A third of the way round we were on target for a sub 2hr finish, but it was hard and it was hot, so we agreed to slow, we need to keep some in the bank for later don’t we?, of course we should. We settled into a comfy rhythm. At mile 4, we were passed by Thor, in full regalia, complete with hammer, he saw the humour in Thor reaching mile four, and he noted it with a big flourish of his hammer. Will and I are similarly paced, but try as we did, we couldn’t slow enough to get back to a 2.15 target finish…. probably a good thing!


The route took us along country roads, through pretty places, some quite idyllic, that’s if you like a thatched cottage opposite a church on a village green surrounded by fields and general loveliness. There was limited support cheering us on along the way, what there was, was focused in the villages.

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It was clear we were working harder than we had planned, as unusually there wasn’t much conversation along the way. Keeping us company every 5 minutes and/or completed kilometer was Will’s running app on his phone which very regularly informed us of the time taken for the last Km, the time taken for the race so far, and how many calories burnt, plus so many other metrics. It seemed every 3 – 4 minutes we were getting this regular update, I switched off to it all of it except the most interesting metric, the calorie count, and how that equated to the number of post race hot dogs we were allowed 🙂

The course was similar to Great Bentley, a scenic road race with a grassy finish and I would say it was a fast one too. Described as undulating, it had a couple of hillsScreen Shot 2015-08-17 at 20.45.11, which were steeper on the upside, with long down-hills as a reward, so if you attacked the hills, and belted down the other side, I’m sure it’s a course you will have a great chance of a achieving a PB. The worst hill was at mile 11, it went on too long for me, but then it was downhill again to the finish in front of the castle. I was finding the race hard now, I think the all the running and trekking miles I’ve been doing recently were started to show, and i probably should have had at least a couple of variety packs for breakfast. Will was strong and as we approached the castle grounds it was clear a PB was in sight I told him to leave me and push on hard for the line. He took off with me hollering at him in the distance to run faster and he crossed the line triumphantly in 2.04 point something, smashing his PB by a couple of minutes. I followed on in 2.04 point something + too. (Note to self, must check the race results and let Lloyd know)

I was knackered, Will still looked fresh. The race turned out much better than we had expected, despite our poor preparation’s, Will had achieved an unexpected PB, I was also delighted with my time, and we were 10 mins ahead of our pre race target. It also confirmed following on from the recent parkrun pacing event, I’m still crap at pacing 🙂

A decent medal, a very Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 20.21.17 nice training shirt collected, and then we were at the business end of the race, the obligatory hot dog and ice cream. The hot dog stall impressed me, I noted they cut the jumbo sausage in half, length ways and griddled both insides too before popping into the bun, and plentiful sauce available (important the slower finishers don’t miss out on all the sauce). It also had one of those food hygiene stickers with the 5 star accreditation; I like that in a burger van….

So wrapping up, Kimbolton is a very well organised race, a beautiful and fast course, quite similar to Great Bentley in may respects, but it’s a 90 mile drive, an hour and a half. Upside being it’s a beautiful location, so an event which is ideal for a possible en mass flyers days out, with a picnic in the castle Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 20.21.04grounds after the race. It also has a 3k fun race for the youngsters before the half starts, and a rather fine burger bar and Frank’s ice cream van for post race rewards…

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