After the freezing and fairly miserable conditions at the Farnborough Half, two weeks before, I was hoping for slightly kinder weather for this event, particularly after looking at the course map – all along the seafront!
Thankfully the day of the event dawned bright and clear, and I drove down to Portsmouth enjoying a glorious sunrise! I wasn’t sure what the parking situation would be like so I had allowed plenty of time, but as it was I was able to park around 2 minutes walk from the start, so I decided not to bother with the organised bag drop. Pre-race admin was nice and easy and more importantly, indoors and warm! Only a very small queue to pick up my number and barely any queue for the loos.
15 minutes before the start we were ushered outside into the sunny (but cold!) morning, and then we were off. The first few miles ticked along nicely, it was a bit breezy but wide paths and the going was good. After that, things got a bit more ‘interesting’ – some single-track paths and a stretch along a beach with a fairly epic headwind slowed us down, so I decided to ignore my watch and just enjoy running in the sunshine by the seaside!
A couple of slightly less pleasant sections followed, a few miles of running along a dual carriageway with my legs feeling heavy and tired was a particular low-light, but after that we were back along the beach and then into the so-called ‘bog of doom’ – which was actually a slightly squishy football field for those of us used to much muddier running conditions (e.g. Cross country!)
The markers for 10, 11 and 12 miles were at least half a mile wrong in each case, and I was getting a bit concerned that the route was going to be short, but it sorted itself out in the end, and these last few miles along the seafront were made more exciting by the public who had arrived in their droves to enjoy the unlikely February sunshine, with children and dogs determined to get under the feet of tired runners.
Into the finish area, with a bit of a queue forming – the goody bags were tiny but well stocked, and they were also giving out water, beer, two types of energy drinks as well as a protein recovery drink. This, entertainingly, meant that runners were trying to carry all these things (as they wouldn’t fit in the bags), whilst also taking selfies and attempting to upload their runs to various forms of social media.
In summary, a well organised race with interesting and variable running surfaces; although it’s pancake flat, it’s probably not one for a PB! A good lesson learned for me too, don’t run flat out on a Thursday night club run and expect your legs to completely recover by Sunday!