This year our club race was the Water of Life Half Marathon, there was also a 10k option available. It was an early start to travel from Tiptree to Marlow with the coach ready to leave at 6:15am, to be honest this didn’t really bother me as I quite like the school trip feeling it gives 😜. We arrived in plenty of time which allowed the coach to park up and for numbers to be collected, coffees to be drunk and clothes to be changed. I had opted for the 10k which to be quite honest I felt I was being optimistic with after the way I had been feeling, but we took a final trip to the porta loos and cheered the half marathoners off at 10am before having a warm up and lining up ourselves for a 10:15am start.
The start and finish area was a little on the disappointing side, yes there was a blown up archway over the starting mats, a café in the beautiful building behind us and there was also a baggage drop (but as the coach was staying in the car park I just left my stuff on board), however I didn’t feel there was much of a race atmosphere about the place. Although the half marathon started a little late, we still set off on time for the 10k. Myself and Tina stuck together for the whole run which is always a pleasure. The route was actually really nice, although to be completely honest those first 3 miles were tough for me and if it wasn’t for Tina and Joanne being with me I am not sure I would have kept up the pace. At the 3 mile mark there was a water stop and it was at this point that the half marathon runners took a different turn to continue on their longer route. This caused some confusion across a few runners with some people making the mistake of turning left on the 10k route when they were here to do the Half Marathon – this really should have been made clearer either by better signage or a marshal shouting out instructions. Had it not been for the fact that I had stopped for a drink I am not sure I would have noticed the different routes myself.
From here on in I really enjoyed the run, although unfortunately I did have some knee pain which I will need to keep an eye on I managed to get into an almost comfortable pace and I had Tina for company and some chat (admittedly between heavy breaths!). There were a few gates and bridges to deal with on route but I quite liked that, it breaks up the run a little and gives me something else to focus on. With a lot of tree roots and uneven ground it was important to keep an eye on my feet as it would have been very easy to take a tumble, unfortunately one of our club members did take a nasty fall and had to receive medical attention. I found most of the marshals out on the route to be very supportive and helpful shouting out encouraging words and helping with gates etc. I’d also like to note that the ambulance car bought our team member back to base to the ambulance for medical attention (unfortunately he did have to take a trip to A & E) and this was dealt with very well by the medical staff at the event.
The finishing mile of the race was uphill, always great 🙄 I was definitely tiring and becoming sore, I was relieved to have only been doing the 10k! I found this last part of the run really quite disappointing, it was not at all clear where we should be entering the sports centre for the finish or where we should be running back onto the field to end the run. Cars were still using the entrance / exit and this actually made it quite difficult when running back in – a couple of marshals should really have been positioned here to assist with the finishers. Not only that but the finish archway had been put down (I assume down to the windy weather – OK fair enough, this couldn’t be prevented) and there was barely any support as we crossed the line. In fact there was no support as we crossed the line, we then had to suss out where to go to help ourselves to our medal, banana and water. Not exactly the finish you hope for when completing a race but OK for a 10k this isn’t the end of the world it was those who had just got to the end of their half marathon that I felt for. Barely any cheers as they crossed the line (although it would appear some of them weren’t particularly appreciative of ours – a little thank you wouldn’t go amiss 😒), then having to find their medals and to top it off the course was short. I’m not sure I would have been too impressed with that so even more thankful that I took the 10k option.
Overall it was a nice route and mostly great support from the marshals but perhaps a few more at the end of the race would have been ideal, along with a bit more going on at the finish and the medals etc. closer to that finish line with maybe a “well done” from those at the desk…. I also find it a bit wrong that the medals are the same for the 10k and the half marathon, again not the end of the world but I do think these little touches add up to making a race a great one.