Report – Matt Burdus-Cook
The Compton Verney Half Marathon offers one of the most picturesque race start and finish lines in the race calendar with the very big house, grounds, outdoor art installations and lakes providing a wonderful setting for both competitors and supporters alike.
Alongside the guaranteed scenic vistas, scorching hot weather does seem to come as standard for this undulating half marathon course which includes 2 ascents of Pittern Hill to both sap the legs of early vim in the first miles and exhaust any remaining energy at the close of the race.
Race organisers Tempo Events assessed the forecast conditions earlier in the week and made the welcome and wise decision to move the start forward to 8am to allow runners to avoid the extreme temperatures forecast from mid-morning onwards.
Additional water stations were also arranged and as such (as per previous years) with the added enthusiasm of local residents stationing hoses and even ice lolly stops, the course offers some of the best hydration and cooling any half marathon runner is likely to experience.
4 Stratford AC members were amongst the 170 finishers who braved the conditions, which started cool, but did rapidly rise over the duration of the race.
Kudos for the day goes to those entrants that spent the longest time on their feet with some runners enduring the ever hotting conditions for over 3 hours.
All Stratford Athletes were home in under 1:45 with John Bettles finishing in 37th Position in 1:44:07. Kate Wright was 2nd Lady finisher (8th finisher overall) in 1:31:54 and 1st in her age category by a huge margin of more than 37 minutes. Phil Reading missed the photo opportunities as his club vest was in the wash, but he did the hypothetical colours proud finishing 7th overall and was the 1st Senior Male over the line with older male runners and taking the remaining top spots alongside the Ladies winner Natalie Bhangal of Leamington AC (1:27:57, 4th Overall).
I managed to win the race just 2 seconds slower than last year’s effort, finishing in 1:19:20.
My personal refelections on the race are as follows:
“This is probably my favourite race in the annual calendar as I enjoy the challenging conditions of the course and the setting of the start and finish is really wonderful. I have never won here, and I never won a half marathon before so it was a very special race for me. I established a good lead relatively early in the race which was exciting and nerve-racking in equal measure. The thought of securing the win pushed me on, while the fear of overheating and blowing-up made me keep my pace in check, and hold back slightly from my original race plan. The support from the marshalls along the route was brilliant and the finish was a bit of an emotional moment for me. It is probably one of the slower winning times that the event has seen, but I’ll happily and gratefully take it!”
For the full results please follow the link below: