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Farnborough Winter Half – Jim Laidlaw’s View from the Pack….

There was a big field of Sandhurst Joggers at the inaugural Farnborough Winter Half Marathon. Jim Laidlaw shares his view from the pack…..

I entered the Farnborough Half thinking it would be a nice easy route for a Sunday long run. Telling myself that I would take it easy and enjoy the route, having run the area a few times last year when some of the other SJ’s were in full London/Brighton training. However after a fantastic few weeks of hard work with Nikki Stanley at Tuesday’s intervals I felt strong enough and fast enough to give my dream goal of the magic 1.30 a good go.

After getting the email about collecting your numbers from the 2.09 HQ I noticed that there was going to be a sub 1.30 pacer, this made my mind up. Knowing the route well I had enough confidence that even if I blew up I could still have a decent training run out of the event.


Thanks to Nigel Evans for the picture

9 o’clock start ! This wasn’t a problem I’ve been out with Mike Guess and Ray Hale on a few Sundays at that time so I knew I had time to get up and ready . Porridge with the kids followed by a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich, tea and an orange Lucozade. This has been my race preparation for the last couple of halfs and seems to be working fuel wise .

I parked at my parents, used their loo and ran to the start , first good call of the day as there was quite a queue for the portoloos. Meet up with the SJ gang at the baggage area . Patrick ,Nigel, Chris, Sharon ,Charlie, Andrew Brooks, Dave Bartlett, Erol and Elin . A quick chat about the nice dry but cold weather before I had a quick chat with some other local runners I know from other events. It looked like a great turn for this first time event .

The start time approached so off came the layers and off we went to the start. I met Lisa Hale here and we chatted away, this helped me chill and forget that we were just about to sprint off . I eyed the pacer his orange hat was great spotter.

It started and off we went. The first 3 miles looped around the buildings of the business park then stretching out to the end of the runway. This was the best of views but it did keep us together, however we did catch the runners that were still making the first lap around at some points. The pacer was in good voice at this point, calling the mile markers on or off. Not matching his own Garmin or mine for that matter. He was taking bets on how out we would be distance to markers. This chatty mood made it feel like a normal LSR! I was running in a group with Andrew Brooks who I’ve met a few times at club handicap, he beats me 😂. So I thought ‘just hang on to him and I shouldn’t be far off.’

We then went out onto the main roads, this had been a concern of mine prior as to whether they would be closed roads or not but they did a brilliant job and the roads had all been closed. A little off road trail at mile 6-7 was where the SJs were marshaling. This came to a tight gate/fence which maybe could have been highlighted in case you didn’t know the area .

At mile 8-9 I started to feel the pace a little so decided to take a Shotblok; it was frozen! Trying to breath and chew wasn’t easy so my pace dropped. I could still see the pacer and Andrew still but couldn’t hear the banter.

Between mile 9 and 10 we dropped into the canal area, this might have been tricky in a larger group as it narrowed down into single file. This is my normal point where it’s make or break . A Bracknell Forest Runner was just in front so I made it my mission to beat him out of the canal part. I passed him and felt pretty decent to step on again.

The last 2 and a bit were back on the Tarmac and I knew the finish would be fast. I just had to squeeze a little bit more to get back within touching distance. Andrew and I passed each other on a return part of the course, I guessed I was 20 seconds ish behind him but also knew he was faster downhill. We turned at the top I knew it was a mile home, no point holding back now, it’s now or never and I might not get this close again. I was passing  people the whole way back, gaining more confidence that I could beat the Monkey and bag my time. A few friendly shouts on the last stretch helped as well. Emotionally I was high and close to breaking as I turned the last corner seeing the clock – I had it! 1.29.38 although I didn’t catch Andrew who also had a stormer and ran 1.28.something…


I never expected to beat one of my 2017 goals in the first race of the year. Thanks again for the support of the club and fellow members plus the great runs we offer as a club.

I ran my first half in 2014 at Maidenhead, finishing in a time of 1.45.13 so remember it’s all possible if you try.

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