Waking up at 5:30am on a cold and rainy Sunday morning, thinking to myself “What have I done?”, I departed for the 2 hour drive for Bristol. Having seen the weather forecast, part of me was dreading it, wishing I’d stayed nice and warm in bed, but the majority of me was excited – what’s better than a lovely run in the rain?!
I was full of hope for a new PB, considering this time I was injury free, but had no idea of the course, so who knew what was going to happen! Met my lovely parents, who had also braved the wet and the cold to come and cheer me on, and we made our way into Bristol from the Park and Ride, surrounded by other runners, ready to get going. I had never been to Bristol, despite being down in the West Country for over 2 years, and saw that as an advantage, as I couldn’t think of where I was going – it was all one big surprise.
The organisation was amazing from the get go. All the barriers were up, clear signs for the different waves. So I stripped the three layers that I’d wrapped up in and headed over to the green wave section. After a large group warm up, full of the classic moves, the crowd was buzzing! The atmosphere was amazing, despite the rain. All the supporters were clapping and cheering, all the runners were talking to each other about what we expected from our races, wishing each other luck. Then at 9:46am, the green wave was off! The first 7 miles was a big needle, nice and flat for the first half of the race. Nothing but awe filled my mind when we saw the return of the fastest runner, who had done about 6.5 miles in 32 minutes, and we hadn’t even done 2! And the wave of claps continued for the runners making their return down the other side of the needle, giving us all the inspiration to keep going. All the music stops helped with that too, nothing quite keeps you going like a local Indian music group giving out high 5’s and a man and his guitar singing “All Right Now”.
After emerging the other side of the needle, heading into the centre, the undulation began. I must admit, they were kind, only one hill which was rather mean at about 10 miles or so! Music stops continued with steel drums, a brass trio and a big drumming group. Supporters lined the streets, shouting any name they could see on bibs and tops. I definitely underestimated how much it meant to hear someone shout “Keep running Jess”, especially when you’re about to hit that wall when you want to start crawling. But a few jelly babies and gels later, I made it round, with a new PB of 2:12. Met a few nice people along the way, especially a lady from Farnborough who came up and said “Oh Sandhurst Joggers! You’re a long way from home, I know Mike, he runs my running club!” What a small world! Lots of looping back on yourself, but a great chance to see and support others, including firefighters running in full gear, someone running with a defib on their back and men and women walking in WW1 nurses and soldiers costumes, carrying a poppy flag as a stretcher.
Overall, an amazing half marathon! So well organised, so well supported and a lovely route. Even a lovely top and a quality bit of bling too – and lets face it, that’s half the reason we do these mad things (half of the reason I do anyway)!! I’ve already booked my spot for next year, hope to see you there!