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James Ratcliffe ‘goes long’ at the Farnborough Half Marathon for a good cause

As many Sandhurst Joggers know I like my short races, and some joke that 10 miles is no man’s land in running terms for me – However in mid-December Lee Burrows asked if I would run for the charity that was being set up in memory of his daughter Stacy and friend her Lucy, I couldn’t say no. The charity goal is to set up a trust fund for aspiring young athletes to help them reach for their dreams. This will pay for kit and travel expenses for poorer local children.

I had an Achilles injury for much of the year, so I had either not been running or kept to short sessions. This meant I had absolutely no stamina – On this I had to train for a half marathon in 4 weeks – Ohh S**t. My 1st long run was a disaster as I only managed 8 of the 10 miles. I should really have paced it a bit better. However over the following 3 weeks I completely ignore the “only increase by 10% rule” and increased my mileage and length of my interval sessions. The last interval session being a 14 x 1k @sub 3:50k pace treadmill session.

Two weeks before the race I completed an off-road hilly 13 miles – so at least I knew I could finish the distance. The weekend before I completed a x-Country race on the Saturday and then following this up with the very muddy Reading X-Country for Sandhurst on Sunday – so I knew the strength was there. A few days before the race I somehow managed to pick up a cold which started to brew on the Saturday. As every runner knows if “if its not in your chest you can still run” (p.s it’s not true).

For a change I didn’t run in a club vest, but along with the other 76 runners for the charity wore their T-shirt and race number 13878.87 (this is how much they raised last year for the Air Ambulance). A couple of cold/flu tablets and some gel before the race and I was sure I would be OK.

I ran the 1st few miles with Clive Rolfe and we were going along nicely. He managed to get about 50m ahead of me on the 1st hill and slowly moved away. After 7 miles my Achilles started to become sore and this is where Fiona came flying past me with a look a focused steely determination (don’t think she even saw me). The last 2k were really difficult as more and more runners came speeding past me. My legs felt spent and my feet were so numb that I couldn’t even feel them.

Farn Half medal

In the end I finished in around 1:35. Not my best by a long way, but all in all I was glad I ran it and supported a very worthy cause. The course was actually quite nice and as it was fairly flat with lots of long straights. I also wasn’t really bothered by the snow – it is a damn site better the pouring rain. I might even do it next year, but will start to train a little earlier! More importantly the new charity has started well, is already well supported in the community and has now raised over £10,000. I believe that they have the passion and belief to continue to raise funds to help a new generation. A worthy cause in memory of two really nice talented girls.

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