Belvoir Half Marathon 2018 – a flashback
Going back in time a bit here to when I ran the Belvoir Half Marathon back in April 2018. I’d been gradually ramping up the mileage and doing a little bit of speed work, and wanted to see how it was actually coming together.
I could have just done a time trial around a known course, but running a proper half marathon again for the first time in 8 years seemed like a better test. Knowing I’d run a definite distance appealed, GPS isn’t that accurate whereas a certified Half Marathon would be bob on was one reason.
The other was running with others on the same course gave me a measure of how the day went. On a time trial there was always going to be the option of blaming a less than stellar performance on a ‘head wind’ or ‘conditions’. Running with a bunch of other people meant I had people to compare myself with. If everyone was slow, then yep conditions were probably bad, if everyone but me was fast then I was slow. The target was not to be slower than the last half marathon I ran, which was 1:49 and change at the Leicester Half Marathon in October 2010 (8:23 minutes per mile)
I looked around for a while for an event to enter. I didn’t want anything too big, expensive or too far to travel either. Lots of halfs seemed to already be full, wanting silly money or over an hours drive each way. Then I found the Belvoir Half marathon. Plenty of places, price of £18 seemed reasonable, and about 40 minutes away from home. I also liked the fact it was a village organised race to raise funds for the local village hall, not some big commercial outfit. Entry was online and super simple, now just to make sure I got to the start ok.
The week before all the race info and my number turned up in the post. Even better I didn’t have to get there super early to pick anything up.
Race day dawned grey and a little drizzly. My idea of perfect conditions. I run hot, so a little bit of natural cooling never goes amiss. I’d convinced Ms BeestonRunner to chauffeur me for the day as well, so didn’t have to worry about the drive back. The drive from Beeston to Hose was quick and simple on a Sunday morning, and we were soon being shown where to park on the Village sports field.
Registration was ticking your name off on a sheet of paper in the Village hall, which took all of about 30 seconds. Queue for the toilets was a bit longer, but went a bit quicker once the word came back down the line that the queue was for the cubicles not the urinals. There were plenty of portaloos as well. Then it was time to figure out my new number snap pins. Nice bright orange shirt from London Cardiff 24 the previous year to make me east to spot:
I did a couple of half hearted strides and a minimal amount of stretching so I looked vaguely like I knew what I was doing and then moved over to the start area. There weren’t any official pens so I tried to guesstimate where to start, not wanting to have to get through too many bodies at the start and also not be the body in front of someone properly fast. A little bit of earwigging and I worked into a sport about 15 rows back that sounded like people going for my time. This put be in about the first 1/3 of the field, this wasn’t an enormous event, maybe a couple of hundred runners tops.
And we were off. The course started across the sports field and then coming around a small track before joining the road. None of this was that hard to run on but could have been fun if it had been wetter. But then again I was wearing my only pair of running shoes, Saucony Peregrine 6s, so probably more grip than most of the field who’d sensibly got some road shoes to run in. Looping back past the Village Hall meant spectators got so see us a second time as we came past.
A gentle climb for the first mile while I was trying to be sensible on pacing and ignoring people coming past me. I’d set my GPS to only show time so I didn’t fixate on instantaneous pace, I’d just work it out as I went past distance markers. Stopped me getting choppy on pacing, and gave my mind something to work on.
The course is gentley undulating for the first half so easy going. A couple of old canal bridges come as a little bit of a shock to legs that are in a nice rhythym but not much. Some of the camber is a little steep so sometimes moving out into the road was a good thing. Whilst the roads were quiet this isn’t a closed course, so moving too far out wasn’t a great idea. Especially if you were wearing headphones, which the organisers had asked people not too.
I soon settled in a groove that worked for me and started catching some of those who had come past me on the way out. The countryside in that part of the Vale Belvoir is classic British agricultural landscape, so plenty to look at. And the weather had bought the wildlife out, so could see hares in the fields and plenty of birds out and about. Even a kestrel having a look for some breakfast.
Refreshments were every 3 miles and simple. Water in a cup. Works for me, but if you wanted something more then you’d have to bring your own. Plenty of runners had friends or family around the course handing stuff up, so that’s a nother option
By the half way mark I’d worked out I running a consistnet 7 min per mile! This was quite a bit faster than I was expecting to be going. It briefly crossed my mind to try for a negative split, but as I was already doing better than expected I didn’t want to blow it by pushing too hard.
A good job I didn’t. The 2nd half is slightly more than undulating. Nothing horrendous but a couple of short ascents and a long drag up as well. I also had my first case of a lace untying, so wasted a bit of time sorting that out and getting back into my groove. Things started taking a lot more effort along here. From about mile 10 it stopped feeling quite so smooth and breathing got a lot harder
The final stretch seems like a long way. You can see the village hall from about a mile out and it doesn’t seem to get any closer for a long time, and you can hear the runners ahead crossing the finish line via the PA. A last minute crossing of the road to get to the hall entrance is well handled with marshalls spotting for you. Then it’s in through the gate, under the banner and over the timing strip.
1:34:59, just squeaking under 1:35. Well chuffed with that. An average pace of 7:11 per mile suited me. Thankfully they got some Belvoir Half Marathon crew on hand to take off the timing tags as even when not knackerd I find it hard to reach my feet and balance. Celebrated with some homemade cake and a cup of tea from the stall in the village hall. Polished off a bag of Ready Salted crisps to ‘stave off cramp’, honest.
I though this was a great little event. A bit basic and grassroots, but that’s what I always enjoyed about my audax riding. I like the feel that the people marshalling are there to help out rather than just taking a wage, and that any profits from the event were going to support the village hall upkeep was a cherry on top. The event is run every year 2 weeks before the London Marathon (a lot of people were running it as a health check for that). Unless I break myself again I’ll be back for the Belvoir Half Marathon in 2019, hopefully going a bit faster as well!