Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Health | Cambridge Half Marathon 2016

2016 marks the fourth of the Cambridge half marathon. As my home race, I feel like the Cambridge half marathon is one of the most important races in my year; a chance to run through my home town past and with so many wonderfully people in my running community. Organised by One Step Beyond, the half marathon sells out quickly and has increased in size every year since it was reintroduced in 2012. This year, 7,000 of us have committed to the 13.1 mile route and I'm delighted that this year they've created a new route that involves less doubling back and instead sees an out and back to the beautiful picturesque village of Grantchester.


Cambridge Half Marathon 2016

Amongst my friends, the Cambridge half has become a bit of a joke as every year the weather has fluctuated so much that we've seen blistering heat one year, and snow the next. However, on the morning of the race, I wake up to a freezing but beautifully bright day - near perfect running conditions.

An advantage of being in your home town for a race is that the start in the morning is a much simpler (and lazier!) affair. Leaving home an hour before the race, it's a simple 15 minute stroll to the centre of town and the start of the race. This year the organisers have laid on more loos and I'm pleasantly surprised to say the queues are petty quick. Race packs were all delivered in the post during the weeks leading up to the race so on the day admin is pretty simple. The only problem sadly is the starting funnels are really badly planned and its tough, particularly as a runner with an expected finish time of over 1 hour 40 minutes, to get in to my pen. It's not something I'd normally mind but in the pre-race tension of an event it's always a shame to not have a completely relaxing time in the build up to the starter gun.

Come 9:30 the gun goes off and I've found several of my parkrun friends to run with. The course is beautiful, really well marshaled, great supply of water and gels, lovely route and nicely designed. All in all its a beautiful, well structured half marathon. Grantchester is a real treat in particular: a lovely addition to the run that feels like worlds away from the business of the centre of town.

After a pretty gentle run for me I come in at 2:10:50 - a respectable time seeing as I was taking it easy and chatted the whole way round!

The finish is great: brilliant medal, beer if you want it and the heroes from Sports Injury Clinic on hand to kneed away all those post-race niggles.


My wonderful Cambridge parkrun community - all winners!

All in all, the Cambridge half marathon seems to be going from strength to strength each year. I love how the race organisers really listen to their participants year on year and tweak the race accordingly. I really hope the Granchester out and back addition stays but some work needs to happen on the starting pens to help the slower runners feel as welcome as the fast ones.

One Step Beyond: another great race - look forward to next year's!


Happily running with my parkrun friend Mike
Finishing straight with my friend
(and Cambridge parkrun ED) Paul