Cambridge Half Marathon
Report: Stuart George
Last Sunday found me as the sole Stratford Upon Avon representative in the Cambridge Half marathon.
Why travel so far I hear one or possibly two of you ask? Don’t get me wrong, flatness was the major pull but the other incredible draw was the in-laws being 30 mins away which meant we didn’t have to drag our two lovely toddlers around.
I can tell you that carrying one on your shoulders after 13 miles is not a Stratford Athletics Club recommended warm down drill!
It was a lovely dry day but a bit chilly with it being only 3 degrees at the start. I had some good local info which allowed me to bring a separate pair of trainers for warming up for the start, which was on Midsummer common and it would possibly be cut up by the 12,000 participants all doing strides simultaneously.
I was fortunate to get an early start at 9:34 and I was well rested, well fuelled and well hydrated. I’d really done everything I could to get the most out of the day. The last 7 days of drinking concentrated beetroot shots needed to produce results, because if they didn’t what was that pain for?
Cambridge proudly boasted being the first major race where the pacer team was all female so I looked out for the 1hr 30 stalwart and got ready to go. I had targeted this time for quite a while so was very nervous and thought that I probably wasn’t quite at that level of fitness. I’m not good at tapering and the mind tends to play tricks on me.
A beautiful flat course awaited and a good crowd at the beginning and for the first 5 miles at least. The only criticism of the whole day was that it did tend to get narrow in certain places, mainly because thy had only closed one side of the road and cars were still driving on the other, or the turns and twists of Jesus college meant it was impossible to make wider. It meant on a few occasions I virtually came to a standstill when taking corners and the sole u-turn. This was quite disrupting to the flow of us all.
I had a clear plan and wanted to start off a tad slower. I’d written my mile times on my left arm and found this strategy very handy when I came to the mile markers for as always, the old Garmin was under or over at each and every marker.
After mile 5 you head out of the city for the next six. The miles kept ticking over nicely and at mile 7 I steeled myself with the knowledge it was just a 10k left. The pacer had been going quicker than the desired 90 minutes but I decided to pull away and turn up the speed a touch. This proved the right thing to do as my legs still remained strong. My next goal was to get to mile 10 and here the legs began to ache ever so slightly.
But the crowds began to reappear and although I am never one to remember anything I see on a run, the old historic seats of learning charms were tough to ignore. I was feeling good so put my foot down a bit and realised with about 200 m to go that I could nip below 89 minutes , which thankfully I did finishing in a new PB of 1:28:52 Mrs L-G being less optimistic was still back at mile twelve looking for me and was quite shocked when I called her to see where she was but she had managed to see me 4 times round the course. Its always great when you can get to multiple points to cheer on the runners, so this was an added bonus and definitely helped me get those vital early miles under my belt.
I managed to finish 1032nd out of 11381 and 146th out of 939 in my age category which I think is ok but just showed how many great runners were on the road that day.
A wonderfully organised race, lovely volunteers a great goody bag and flat as you like, I would heartily recommend. However the crowds are sparse in the middle, it did get very narrow at times and not a lot of music or entertainment. None of this bothered me, the last 2 miles in Cambridge centre was so electric it was enough to keep me smiling for days after.