Bourton (Humphs) ½ marathon
17th June 2017
This was the first of two half marathons that I (and several others) would do over a weekend. One might argue that I’d be running a marathon over the weekend. Well, yes… if running a marathon involves getting half-way around the course before deciding to have a sleep prior to completing the remainder. Not quite the same then.
Whilst I was quite aware that both races would be fairly challenging, in terms of undulations (oh yes – neither of these would be described as flat), I had no idea that temperatures would be in the high twenties and that the sun would push the term ‘blazing’ up a notch or two. A cautious approach would be in order.
We parked where the race would finish, opposite the cricket ground, walked across to the football club and met and greeted other purplies. Being part of the road race series, it attracted a good few of us; not even the hot weather can overcome the attraction of points! In the shade, not even moving, I was aware that I was still on the verge of breaking out into a sweat.
The (6pm) start was across the village, about a 5-10 minute walk. We made our way over and gathered for the pre-race photo. Caution being the order of the day, I took a position near the back of the crowd at the start and, once the hooter went, set off at a very sedate pace. As I said – caution. This is not called Humph’s Hilly Half for nothing.
Once out of the village, you encounter a reasonably severe climb. There really is no point in exhausting yourself before you are even two miles in so many of us took it quite steady. Once that climb is out of the way, it’s relatively flat for the next few miles. I should emphasise relatively – there are still some undulations.
We wound our way along country lanes, passing through (village) and, for my part at least, trying to determine the ideal balance between making progress and not tiring myself out. I worry that going too slowly can be as bad as going too quickly, so seek a comfortable-but-not-too-casual pace. I’m still trying to figure out what that is; I’m sure it’s a moving target.
As we passed through Windrush and to about half-way I was concerned that I might not be too comfortable after all. Still half the race to go and I was beginning to think that I may struggle. It didn’t help that I knew of the long climb that faced us: from 7 to 10 miles you are going up. It’s not a steep up but it is a long up. This is quite a test of stoic, especially on a hot evening.
I endured it, for the most part. As we passed the nine mile mark, I actually felt that I could pick up the pace just a fraction. Nothing silly, just a feeling that I was not necessarily struggling after all. The 10-mile marker was at the top of Rissington and signalled that start of a downhill stretch. It also signalled someone in trouble as I arrived; a runner was down with one or two, including Nick, lending assistance and waiting for a medic.
I joined them – an excuse for a breather! – in time for the lady runner to be sick, almost missing me. It transpired that she is diabetic. Whilst I was dithering over whether sugar would be a good thing or not, Debs arrived at the scene. A nurse, she immediately knew what to do and as she gave the lady the correct treatment, the summoned medic turned up.
I was happy to get up and start moving my legs again at this point; I was in danger of cramping up if I stayed squatted much longer. Darren kindly took over propping-up duties (and was also subject to a bit of vomit!) and I set off, downhill, trying to ease out the stiffness that was now in my legs.
We levelled out with just under two miles to go and I joined Debs, along with Dave and another runner (who Debs had met at the Cirencester 10 earlier in the week), called Rose. Together we yomped our way through the final mile-and-a-half which, incidentally, is the return stretch of Bourton’s 10k event (thankfully we would not have to do the loop around the village after!).
We crossed the line about eight or nine minutes over the two-hour mark – perhaps without that ‘breather’ I may have just nudged in under two? I decided to keep my legs moving by walking back along the final mile to meet Sarah (who I’d travelled over with, as well as Julie, Matt and Mark), greeting others along the way. It seemed like a good idea at the time but, whether it was that, or the run itself, I felt decidedly less than brilliant as we went back to the football club for a drink.
Almost Athletes had picked up another bunch of individual, age-category and team prizes; congratulations to those who did so! I was barely able to pick up my pint. I’m hoping that a good warm soak and a good night’s sleep will put me in reasonable shape to tackle double-header part two in the morning.