I picked up Tony (my long term running buddy) nice and early and headed of to Kirkley Hall with the snow falling gently. By the time we had got past the Metro Centre you couldn’t see more than 20 yards ahead. “Surely they’ll cancel!” we said in unison. We arrived at our destination in plenty of time to icy, freezing conditions and poor organisation in terms of parking. The Marshalls were of little use and a number of us ended up in an area adjacent to the farm that I don’t think was intended for parking. We headed up to the start area and the organisation seemed to going from bad to worse. Marshalls were being briefed and there appeared to be little going well. Those queuing for their numbers were standing in the longest line ever seen in the freezing cold with little movement forward.
And then the sun got out! My view of the organisation of this run came and went with the weather. Attempts to guide us to the start area were greeted with confusion, as none of us were quite clear about where we were requested to go. The start was marked with a couple of cones, nothing more, and the starter blew his horn to start us and it was the most pathetic horn I’d ever heard. Now, I’m sorry! But, I do like these things to have some sense of occasion!
Anyway, we were off and the field was a friendly bunch chatting away as we all found our stride. The course was relatively flat throughout. No major climbs but a good number of little “testers”, the first at about four and a half miles and then at regular intervals throughout. This made for a tough enough course with the potential for a decent time. Time was not my focus though. My focus for today was to get around comfortably, this being my first half marathon of the year.
To be fair you couldn’t fault the course in terms of scenery. Several runners in the pre-run, start line chat were expressing concern, that none of the roads were closed. This wasn’t much of a problem, as it turned out, as any traffic was light and the roads were quiet. There were lots of field and tree lined roads with a nice finish running up into Kirkley Hall.
I impressed myself with a time of just over 2 hours. That bodes well for the half marathons coming up, when, with the light nights and warmer weather, I’ll have more training under my belt. The most impressive thing was not necessarily the time (which equated to nine and a half minute miles – nice!) but how comfortable I felt throughout.
A nice stretch straight after the run, further stretches later in the day and a little light weight training the day after have meant very little soreness! All good.
Will I do this again next year? Probably. It’s better than the route from 2012 that started and finished at Wallington and seemed to be a course comprising a one mile downhill stretch followed by a twelve mile climb! Maybe that’s why it moved to Kirkley Hall this year? Who knows? It’s a good course for anyone looking for a personal best that will still test them. Not too flat, not too hilly. The organization didn’t seem particularly slick and to be honest the weather didn’t help one bit.
But as I sat in “The Wicket Gate” eating a three course Mother’s Day lunch with the family I felt a great sense of well being and a job well done!