On a lovely sunny spring morning a respectable number of Jaguars convened at Wymondham for this race, which is traditionally part of the build-up for the Marathon season – although Keith and Ruth had already successfully done Tarpley shortly before (gluttons for punishment). The whole event is very good-natured, and the town waives parking fees for the morning, which is a bonus. Wymondham AC have got it down to a fine art over the years, evidently!
The course is rather like a lollipop in shape, and you pass through three villages twice on the loop; it certainly is a picturesque route. It was especially good to see Neil cheering us (and Barbara) on but there are plenty of water stations and all who manned them were very encouraging to the runners. There was a surprise hill at mile 19, which I confess to walking up because of cramping calves. It was SO good to see the finish line crammed with supporters on the little bridge at just over 20 miles.
There is a good long walk back to the hall behind the Abbey at the end, but that acted as a cool-down on such a lovely day. Many people achieved really well, so that was the icing on the cake, and the Marathon folks must have benefited from the race practice and gained confidence from it.
I would certainly do it again, and recommend it as an enjoyable event – inasmuch as running 20 miles can be!
The day was bright and a little breezy as 4 Jags made an early start for the road trip to Langham for this unusual distance race. Colchester Harriers is a friendly local club and the race had a small field of approx 250 entrants. Facilities at Langham village hall were good and the atmosphere before and after the race were very relaxed. The race was a two lap course through picturesque, undulating, Essex countryside. All 4 Jaguars who attended, Emma Wilcox, Stephen Pointer, Neil Button and Dee Neal, enjoyed it and all gained new age group records. This race is a well run, entertaining and enjoyable event well worth the travel.
Sunday 10th March saw me join 15,000 people to run the Vitality Big Half in London. Starting the same race as Sir Mo Farah was pretty exciting and although I had no fear of being able to keep up with him for more than 2 metres I was hopeful for a glimpse of him as he ran elegantly past on what can only be described as a fairly blustery day.
The Big Half was my first experience of a ‘big’ race and I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed every single second. Arriving with my friend, a runner with Redway Runners based in Milton Keynes we decided to take full advantage of the currently empty and plentiful portaloos. This turned out to be a wise decision as later on although still plentiful they were very much not empty and had huge queues surrounding them.
We were starting in different pens so this mental that we had different baggage lorries allocated to us for our paraphernalia. When our race packs had been posted we had also been sent a clear plastic duffel bag that was to be used by all runners for their belongings. This then had a sticker which corresponded to our bib number which in turn indicated which baggage lorry and start pen we were to use. Having run only local races I was slightly confused over why this was necessary, all became clear as we approached Tower Bridge! People, runners, marshals, supporters, coaches, every man and his dog to put it shortly seemed to be out. I could now totally understand why everything was as regimented as it was and why it was all so necessary!
Having safely deposited both mine and Laura’s bag (having to walk over Tower Bridge and back again the process) we were now wrapped up in foil blankets trying to keep warm in what was now a really very windy and pretty chilly morning. We had to get some selfies on Tower Bridge though, even with the foil blankets taking on a mind of their own and lots of people having the same idea we did manage this.
All too soon it was time to be making our ways to our start pen, a quick hug, another quick toilet trip and a decision on where we would meet when we finally got to Greenwich Park and I was making my way to my start pen. Passing now huge queues for the toilets I was eternally grateful for the fact we had decided to use the loo every time we saw one that was empty (something I would definitely recommend). Having found start pen C nerves really did start to kick in at this point, there was lots of people, lots of noise and an atmosphere of nervous anticipation. Within a crowd of 15,000 people I ended up standing next to a lady from Wymondham, wearing a RunNorwich buff and behind a chap wearing a Humpty Dumpty buff, as they say it’s a small world.
A countdown was started for the elites to go off and soon the Big Half was officially underway. Just knowing that were going to be chasing along the same streets as Mo Farah, Steph Twell and Charlotte Purdue definitely made for an exciting course. Due to the amazing organisation I crossed the line at 9.10.35 which is almost pretty much spot on to what had been predicted in the timetable of events.
It’s always difficult at the beginning of a race to find your comfortable pace and with lots of people about this was proving challenging as people were ducking and diving all over the place to get into their own rhythm. We quickly dropped into LimeHouse Tunnel which was a wall of noise, it was also downhill at the beginning, and the only thing I could think was we are going to have to come back up and out of this at some point! It was actually a relief to be out of the wind for a while, but bizarrely being as the tunnel is 1.1 miles long I actually got too hot and couldn’t wait to get out!
Coming out of the tunnel brings you to Canary Wharf where there was steel drum band playing and LOTs of support from the spectators. The wind was also back and I thought longingly of the tunnel (as runners we are never happy are we?)
Wapping was the next stretch, and cobbles! I don’t associate London and cobbles and they came as a bit of a shock if I am honest. However time to get the head down and keep moving, the next section contains Tower Bridge. Running over Tower Bridge I suddenly understood why people run the London Marathon time and time again. There were lots of people cheering, even in the wind and rain (and the wind on Tower Bridge was like nothing I had experienced up to this point). The whole way over I had goose pimples and was definitely one the best things I have done since I started running.
The second half was perhaps not so exciting course wise, running through various London housing estates and past shopping centres, but there were still a lot of people out on the course supporting and entertainment at every mile in the form of bands, choirs and various other things going on.
From Mile 10 I was continuously chanting, just a parkrun to go, just a parkrun to go, although I did at one point wonder if the Cutty Sark had been moved as a 5k parkrun was feeling like running another 10 miles!
Soon though there was just one small bridge and I could see the Cutty Sark masts in the distance looming ever closer. Having seen the end of the course on a quick recce in Greenwich on Saturday I knew that once I rounded the bend the finish would be there before I knew it. Again there was noise and people everywhere, although all I could see at this point was the sign saying FINISH!
I was then done! Looking down at my watch with a brand new shiny PB of 1.55.46 as well, to say I was pleased would be a total understatement!
Walking around the Cutty Sark again taking a few pictures I could see marshals handing out the most gorgeous stick-man medals which I was soon sporting around my neck. We were then ushered around to collect our T-Shirts, walking through the glorious grounds of Greenwich Park. We were asked to walk over a little wooden bridge with ladies sat at snipping off our timing chip. I could see the baggage lorries in the distance, all the time with the biggest smile on my face.
Having found my friend we settled down at the finish to watch our children and husbands come in on some of the route we had just run, in the Little Half. The little ones were then handed stick man medals and t-shirts which they loved!
As you can probably tell I loved every single step of this run, the two slightly down points would have been the weather and the consequent fact that lots of the planned entertainment in the park had to be cancelled for safety reasons. Other than that I would recommend anyone to run the Big Half although next year I can see me having to do the children’s mile as my husband has already voiced his want to run it having watched a significant amount of the race waiting for me!
On Sunday 3rd March, I completed the Cambridge Half Marathon (it was over 20 years since I last did a half marathon which was when we still lived in Cheshire!). The morning was drizzly but that did not dampen the atmosphere of almost 9000 entrants. We were allocated to a wave dependent on the time you anticipated (I think I said about 2:20:00 to 2:30:00) and so was in Wave 3 (green). We were asked to be there about an hour before the start which was only a 10-minute walk from the hotel we were staying at. There was a Pre-Race Expo where runners and their families could meet the partners of the race, grab a coffee or have a massage prior to the race. I joined in with the pre-race warm up before we were instructed to go to our wave start, which was good fun. After a short time, we were led to the start line. The organisation was brilliant and although I was on my own, I did not feel isolated and everyone chatted to each other. Waiting and ready to go, with a mixture of nervousness and excitement, I was wished good luck by a lady who I later found out to be a Coltishall Jaguar! I was wearing my Jag’s tee-shirt. The route was lovely – mostly flat and the atmosphere was brilliant. The race was a one lap loop, taking in the historic landmarks of Cambridge including Victoria Avenue, The Backs, Kings College as well as going through the city before heading out through Grantchester and then back into the city to Midsummer Common. The atmosphere and support were brilliant with singers, bands playing, together people lining the streets cheering and encouraging all runners of every age and ability together with the residents of the villages coming out with bags of jelly babies, fruit pastilles and fruit and keep the runners going. I loved this race from start to finish. I finished in a time of 2:06:45 which, for my first half marathon as a Coltishall Jaguar, I was very pleased with and no doubt I will be booking another half marathon soon!
I forgot my trail shoes. Anyway you can wear road shoes for most trails? They are usually just hard packed paths? WRONG! Brightlingsea six hour challenge is advertising as an undulating (lie) trail (lie) lapped course. Do as many laps as you can in six hours. Joking aside the event is brilliantly organised, laid back but well thought out and really friendly. The course was not friendly. Don’t get me wrong, I love mud, it’s kind of my thing. So I will stop pretending I wasn’t actually happy when the race director described the course. I would just have been happier if I had remembered shoes with grip. The marathon (four laps) was my target. Because of repeated injury I have tapered my training back and only run three times a week, a total of ten ish miles. I was clueless how to pace this run. I think even experienced marathoners would struggled with pacing because of the swampland in the middle of the course. I decided to run quite a bit slower than usual, that felt scientific. The course is six laps, mile one was along the sea front into a stupid headwind, mile two was mud and up hill, mile three was twisty muddy single track with branches to duck, mile four was mud, mile five was along the sea into the wind and mile six was a much appreciated tailwind to finish the loop. The first two laps felt okay, I spent some time chatting to other runners and thinking ‘maybe I could do further than the marathon’. This enthusiasm plummeted on lap three, it became clear that you can blag a half marathon on ten miles a week, but not a marathon. My under-training combined with not being able to eat, when running, because it makes me feel sick meant lap four was hilarious to watch, proper comedy. Falling into fences funny. I really wanted to get under four hours but on the last lap the mud became less amusing, because of the foot fall the course was officially a swamp. I began making really weird noises, like properly weird. I was determined not to walk mainly because I was worried that if I stopped it would be for good. My running style at this point looked like a sweaty bald ostrich running (ish) over hot coals. About a mile from the finish I realised the laps were coming up long and I had a chance of ducking under four hours. My brain told me I had a sprint finish left, nope. I really wish I had a video of that last half mile, it felt and must have looked ridiculous. Anyway I did it! Yay me, my first marathon. I nearly got under four hours (4:01). I swore I would never do a marathon again. My Google history might suggest otherwise.
On Sunday 3rd March almost 50 Jaguars arrived at Roarr Dinosaur Park in Lenwade for the new Norwich Road Runners half marathon race. We were all interested to try out the route and were in some trepidation about the threatened three climbs, which could mean that the course was not conducive to PBs. After a slight delay at the start we were on our way to Ringland along the back lanes, with welcome cheers from the fantastic Jaguars water station team at 3 miles. It was even better seeing them again at 10 miles on the return! People running near me commented on ‘the best water station ever’ – it really lifted the spirits and made folk smile when passing through, so many thanks to them. I think they may be asked back …
The rain set in and made for ideal running conditions in some ways, although the mud and puddles became more evident as we went along. NRRs had manned the marshal points really well and the marshals were firm but friendly – and some of them were handing out jelly babies! The three climbs weren’t too awful (personally I found the last uphill stretch to the finish line the most difficult), and many people were really pleased with their times afterwards; there were several PBs and some placings in age categories, which was excellent.
Marshals handed out foil blankets to the finishers as there was a bit of a trek back to Race HQ, and these were so welcome. There was also a goody bag (which my grandson will love) and bananas on offer, along with the camouflage-style dinosaur medal.
All in all it was a very positive experience, even if not as scenic as the former Broadland route, and good to see so many Jaguars performing so well. Special congratulations need to go to Hattie Swain, Chloe Bridges and Emily Spragge, for whom this was their first half marathon. Well done to everyone, and thanks for being such a lovely bunch of people to run with!
Nicola Lambert- John
YES 3rd In Age Group & New Age Group Record
1st In Age Group, Gold CC Meda l& New age Group Record