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Bracknell Half Marathon – Members’ highlights

Debra Harris

I grew up in Bracknell and it’s always been at the back of my mind to take part in the local half marathon. I did enter on a whim really knowing it was probably too soon after London, but a running buddy from BFR kind of persuaded me to run with her as it was her first half marathon. I’m glad I did it, though once again my legs hate me and I’m on a mission to sort that problem out ! I didn’t have any expectation of time as all my friend wanted to do was to finish.

As this was my first Bracknell HM I can’t compare it to the old course as it’s now run in reverse and has a new start and finish at the new Lexicon shopping centre. I have to say I did enjoy it – yes the course is challenging in parts due to the hills and there are a fair few of them. Support is light in places, but I quite liked that at times – it was just nice to run and chat with Naomi and take in the scenery – yes Bracknell does have some lovely spots. The hill at the Hilton was horrible and we walked that to be met by three youngsters doing the “floss” dance – made us laugh and no we didn’t join in. The last few miles saw a bit more support running through Crown Wood and Forest park and then back to the town centre. I loved the finish – running up through the new town centre, there was plenty of cheering and encouragement from the crowd.

Bracknell HM is well marshalled along the complete route, plenty of water stations and sponges being handed out too. I haven’t a bad word to say about it, but then I’m a Bracknell girl at heart, it’s where I grew up and it did me proud ❤

Well marshalled. Hilly. A challenge. Small, local and friendly.

Jackie Brighton

I’m not familiar with Bracknell so really didn’t know what to expect with regards to the route. Great support all the way round. Lots of underpasses and fantastic support at the end.  Well organised. Definitely one to run again next year.

Jackie Brighton Bracknell Half

Claire Rowse

I ran my first ever half marathon last year at Bracknell and having run a few more since then I of course had to return to Bracknell this year. With the switch in locations, came the goodwill of free parking right in town. It was good to see lots of friends running before we started, some of whom I got to know from running the race last year so it was a bit of reunion for us. The race started right by Waitrose and headed through town and onto one of the many dual carriageways which wasn’t closed in any way so whilst we all jostled for space on the footpath the very few cars had plenty of space on the roads – tip for next year Bracknell forest – get these roads closed. The route was quite tight in places, tight turns and ups and downs through the subways plus an evil hill at around mile 10 through a wooded area. Overall though, I enjoyed the run despite suffering from a chesty cough which took its toll on the hills. The local support was great and the finish was immense with the crowds cheers echoing through the town. Only Bracknell could switch the scenic finish of the grounds of South Hill Park to outside of Primark!!

Claire Bracknell Half

Fiona Slevin-Brown

Bracknell half marathon is one of my favourites and being on my door step has always been a race I’ve tried to do. The race previously started at south hill park but this year was hailed as starting at the new Lexicon centre and the course has changed which meant it was irresistible to sign up for! It was also an opportunity for me to test my recovery from the chest infection I’d had earlier in April which had put me out of action for nearly two weeks and resulted in having to withdraw from the London marathon.
On the day of the Bracknell half, we all gathered at the new start in the centre of town where local clubs were very well represented and of course a strong contingent from SJs!
Off we headed at 9 on the new course which in the main was the old course but anti clockwise and had the added bonus of running down Harvest Ride not up it!
The course itself was fairly technical with a few tight turns, more lumps and bumps than you’d expect and it was a little warm but all of this was countered by some fantastic support and marshaling around the course. The finish back at the lexicon was amazing with the noise of the crowds adding an extra boost for all of us finishing. Fab goodie back as well! Personally I was delighted with my run and took  a huge confidence boost from it. It was really lovely to see my SJ teammates at the end and everyone looked like they’d enjoyed themselves. The changes to the start and finish and course mean I’ll definitely be back next year…..Well done everyone!!

Fiona Bracknell Half

Jacq Hudson

Bracknell was a really well supported event both the community & Marshalls were top! Although the course wasn’t easy, the shear number of supporters to keep you going + refreshments readily available made the course enjoyable.

Jacq Bracknell Half

Royston Crandley

Bracknell was always famous for it’s underpass system, meaning you could navigate your way round and avoiding the roads. The half marathon makes great use of those networks to take your on a tour of a town I grew up in. It’s become more scenic over time, but one thing you certainly noticed alongside the scenic route were the numerous gradients. Running the course in reverse meant running down Harvest ride, this was heaven, well you’d think it was. The slight change in the course meant the elevation in total was worse, my legs discovered this and this race became a battle of will. I did survive the onslaught of hills and a warm spring day to finish in 1:55. With a distinct lack of proper training and asthma to contend with I can only be happy with that. See you next year Bracknell, hills included.

Royston Bracknell Half

Martin Steadman

I ran the Bracknell Half Marathon last year, and also work in the town, so I knew pretty much all of the course despite the changes for this year. The free parking with race number worked well. The High Street car park is close to the start and finish, and has toilets. The start area by Waitrose involved a bit of shuffling to get everyone the right side of the start line. I didn’t mind the lack of a proper bag drop as the car park was nearby and the day warm. Hopefully the last of the building work will be finished for next year. The course is still undulating… Actually more so as it is downhill away from the town centre at the start and the opposite at the finish. The up of Long Hill Road (not that long, but definitely a hill) was expected and the mostly down this time of Harvest Ride was appreciated – I made good time here, helping me get under 1 hr 40 min (just). However, the up past South Hill Park to The Hilton was a bit of an unwelcome surprise. Although there is a lot of street-side running, there are also plenty of leafy cycle paths away from traffic – one chap passing me commented on how scenic Mill Park near McDonald’s was. I would only complain about the London Road section in and out of the town centre – the pavement is not that wide, so shutting a lane of the dual carriageway would be helpful. There was plenty of support, marshalling and water on the way round. All very welcome as the weather started to heat up and my left knee started to hurt. The finishing straight was fantastic, through the “tunnel” from Fenwick to Primark, with lots of cheering and clapping. Finish line freebies were: water and t-shirt, then medal, Lucozade, Mars bar and two sachets of porridge in a drawstring-rucksack-bag thing. I see no reason not to do it again!

Martin Bracknell Half

Caroline Cutliffe

The alarm went off at 6.30am and I turned over to go back to sleep – I had raced on Saturday on the Thames (rowing)! and my legs told me to stay in bed! But sun out and local half marathon, so there was nothing for it but to drag myself out from under the duvet and head off to line up with fellow SJs.
I felt I should be going shopping,not running,  on turning up to the start line but the shops weren’t open – damn!  and at first it was very quiet;then suddenly – is it a flash mob they call it?  people appeared from nowhere and the place was packed with runners in anticipation of the new course and the downhill at Harvest Ride and the many underpasses that Bracknell has to offer.
Lucy Hale and I headed out into the sunshine and whilst the first mile was a bit congested, the general atmosphere was good.
Harvest Ride came(and went)  early on in the race and didn’t disappoint!  A steady descent down to Jocks Lane and on towards the Western Industrial Estate before hitting McDonalds (not literally)!
Upwards and onwards through the housing estate towards Bracknell Leisure Centre and a few twists and turns under the dual carriageway to emerge out of the darkness and realise we were heading in the direction of South HIll Park – hurrah the finish was near – oh no, they changed the route so in actual fact we were still miles away!
The realisation that we had another uphill to the Hilton Hotel wiped the smile of my face and mind turned to the hot chocolate that Jackie Kent talked so lovingly about  after we finished.  Next landmark up was Harman’s Water, winding through the backs of the houses and the park until we arrived back to the Running Horse Roundabout  in the knowledge, it was about a mile from home.  But talk about keeping the best til last (hill that is)! – London Road on the return was very different and literally, a killer!!!
I had missed a couple of mile markers – not because I was going so fast; maybe just a matter of keeping upright!  A BFR friend was marshalling just before entering the last underpasses and assured me I was less half a mile from the finish.
And there we have it – a big shoutout from the firefighters and a great approach to the finishing line where shoppers and supporters alike lined the route to give the runners a last boost as they rushed towards the line and Primark – it was like the January Sales!!!
Not the most scenic half marathon! but you know, there is something about this event – the support of the residents, the marshalls, the organisation, the buzz (and maybe the underpasses) that keeps me coming back!!  Love it!  despite probably a PW.  I’ll be back…
Caroline Bracknell Half
Harvey Young
Bracknell was my second half marathon and due to illness I was fairly unprepared compared to Wokingham, so my goal was just get round and enjoy it. Slow and steady was the aim and I really enjoyed this one. The crowds were amazing especially at the finish. Pretty good conditions and as I’m fond of telling everyone “It’s finish line, not finish time” and so it was. With great support from the club members.
Harvey Bracknell Half
Kirsty Darcy
Bracknell was unexpectedly tough! Having lived in Bracknell for most of my life I thought that being familiar with the route would help however at times I often wasn’t sure where I was and where we were heading! ! It was hillier than I had expected and although well supported with a lot of water stations and free sweets I pretty much struggled the whole way round despite this being my 6th half marathon! The highlight for me was seeing my children at three points along the route and friends in various places which gave me a much needed boost but I still ended up finishing 11 mins slower than Fleet half. The finish was fab with lots of cheering and support however at the finish line I did say never again but on reflection I feel like I have some unfinished business with Bracknell so I may find myself back there! The last highlight was of course the free glass of wine in The Bull!
Phil Guy
The finish is amazing you run through the longest straight of the Lexicon shopping centre with barriers on both sides generating loud cheers, very uplifting. The new reverse course is still very tough, the hardest local half (I haven’t done Windsor). The crowds are good very vocal and supportive.
 Phil Bracnell Half
Mark Neve

This was my 17 year old daughter Amy’s first Half Marathon so I was really excited to be taking part with her. She’d recently been suffering with a shin injury so I wasn’t sure if she’d manage it. It was due to this I was expecting us to finish around 2hr 40. We set off at the back of the pack behind the 2hr 30 pacers. The water stations were frequent and the sponges at each station were very refreshing (It was a warm day, but thankfully not scorching). Amy was setting the pace but I didn’t think she would keep it up (she was pushing me on as I was now running faster than I had anticipated!) After a few miles we passed the 2:30 pacer! At around mile 9 I realised we were on for my PB! I was picking up the pace a bit but Amy was starting to tire so we got our heads down and I encouraged her to push through the last few miles. It was a great bonding experience made even more special by the fantastic reception at the finish line as we crossed together in 2hrs 25mins and some seconds! (2 minutes taken off my PB!)

The whole experience was great, it was nice seeing so many familiar faces from Bracknell Parkrun. I expected more running on roads, but most of the paths were wide enough and we certainly got to see many of the underpasses Bracknell is famed for! The start/finish in the Lexicon was nice, although my wife and daughters decided to catch up on some shopping after we’d finished when all  I wanted was a nice soak in the bath!!

Kate Turnell
So, having decided not to run the rescheduled Fleet Half two weeks previously, I was a teeny bit excited to be doing the Bracknell Half, having done it once before in 2009. Fellow SJ, Amy Gates and I arrived at the car park (free for the entire day for runners) at 7.45am and it was pretty much empty, then we took the short walk to the start, toilets (with very short queues) and bag drop, meeting Caroline Cutliffe along the way – the bag drop was very disappointingly not manned for the duration of the race so we went back to the car to leave valuables, good thing it was close! The start of the race at 9am was quite casual, just a ‘ready, steady, go’, but it was on a slight hill!! Then we were off, into a sharp left turn onto a really lovely, and varied route. We ran through many housing estates in Bracknell and surrounding areas – including a park where children were playing, handing out sweets, drinks and ice lollies, giving high fives and supporting all the runners so well. Through numerous underpasses, through wooded areas and on main roads, the friendly support along the majority of the route was what had bought me back to Bracknell. I was so relieved to hear Jacqueline Hudson and Harvey Young coming up behind me at around 6 miles so I ran with them for a short distance before Harvey sped up and Jacqs slowed for a bit. I was then really happy for Jacqs to catch up with me at around mile 12 to push me up the last hill towards the end – we had the added bonus of an entire Fire Fighter crew clapping us through the last underpass to get us into the final sprint into the Lexicon town centre, to loads of whoops and cheers from all the Sunday morning shoppers!! It was a hot morning, it was tough at times – but it is definitely one for the diary – close to home, great route, fantastic support and marshalls, lots of water stations (some from the residents of Bracknell), a good medal, t-shirt and goody bag for all competitors and over by 11.30am with a PB of 8 minutes from my run at Farnborough Half – when can I sign up for next year??
Charlie St Aubyn
Bracknell Half – 2 years ago hot, hilly, horrible. This year, bit last minute, taking it easier after Fleet, cooler, nicer course with lots of variety, twists & turns, some impromptu pacing for Blanche to give some focus to the run, good crowds, friendly BFR parkrun friends & marshals. Fab, loud finish through the Lexicon & an excellent sub 2hr PB delivered. Local, good value, lots of support, a fantastic finish and great goody bag. I’ll be back again.
Blanche Barnes

Bracknell was my 2nd half marathon which I was hoping to be more relaxed about, but having surprised myself with 2.01ish at Wokingham in Feb, I was feeling a bit of pressure to get sub 2 hours, despite Bracknell being hillier. (I know, I know, its not about the time, but when you’re that close, you have to give it a shot…) Now, I am quite an expert on endurance faffing and this weekend was no exception. Following a severe altercation between my left foot and a bed leg the night before, it took me 2h20 (i.e. longer than my actual run time) to get ready & out on the Sunday. In between getting lost in Bracknell’s many roundabouts, & resolving a wardrobe malfunction in a portaloo 3 minutes before the start, I got a much-needed quick hit of emergency calmness in the form of Caroline Cutliffe and Jackie Kent. Then Charlie St Aubyn took over as he kindly offered to help pace sub 2 hours. No time for warm up, and we were off, narrowly missing smacking into a post box in the first 100 metres (they really should move that next year). Most of the race then passed in a blur of underpasses, Waitrose warehouses, numerous encouraging marshals, amazing supporters (sponges – what a fab idea), oh and plenty of hills. Not that steep but seemingly lots of them. I felt really tired only 2-3 miles in (usually I’m ok for the first 5-6 miles of a long run), so had a real mental wobble at that point. Fortunately it passed & I tried some gels at 6 and 10 miles but in hindsight could have done with them earlier as they seem to take a good 40 minutes to kick in. Was great to see Jackie again at mile 8 and she was soon gone, clearly having a fantastic run. Charlie provided consistent encouragement throughout – to me and also other random bemused runners (whether they wanted it or not), interspersed with assurances that the hills were fewer and smaller than they seemed to me. Somehow this strategy was effective, as we arrived in just under 1h57, so v happy with that, and a huge thank you to Charlie! Amazing crowd support at the finish – not something I’ve experienced before in my short running career,  and it gave me some small idea of why people do the London Marathon.  As soon as I stopped, I realized just how much my left foot was throbbing, so a recovery coffee & chat with fellow SJs afterwards was the perfect antidote. Definitely back next year, tho will be up at 5am and try to avoid close encounters with heavy furniture next time.

 Blanche Bracknell Half

Jackie Kent

The cheers of the crowd really made me feel like a celebrity as I crossed the line! We got goodie bags, technical shirts and water after the finish and then after collecting my bag, I met up with a few others in my favourite coffee shop for a hot chocolate before heading home for a shower and a sleep!

SJ team Bracknell Half

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