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Farnborough Half Marathon – SJ Members Highlights

Liz Evans“Was quite excited on the morning of The Farnborough Half as had just completed my first Half Marathon the weekend before at the Saturn event on Greenham common, so knew that I could actually do it! Must admit I didn’t realise it was going to be quite so cold. Nigel and I arrived and met up with lots of lovely SJ’s and shortly after we were off. The furthest I had run before without walking at all was 8 miles, so my aim was to at least run to 10 miles and see how I felt. Really enjoyed the route, not too hilly until that long drag at mile 9. Was lovely to see familiar friendly Marshall’s along the way and I managed to run nearly up to mile 12. Then everything started to hurt! Just before the end I heard “come on Liz, keep going!” and saw the lovely Jaq Hudson and Holly Dunn behind me and they spurred me on to the finish. Really really enjoyed it, brilliant atmosphere, well organised and having my husband’s support and all the fantastic encouragement from the other SJ’s made it. Would definitely do it again.”

Andrew Brooks “This was the 3rd running of the Farnborough half marathon and the 3rd different course layout. This year’s course was a kind of out and back layout which for me made for a relatively dull route and it wasn’t particularly “flat” as they advertised. The winter weather didn’t disappoint either, this time we were faced with a strong cold northerly wind – this probably contributed towards most runners covering the first mile a little too quickly in an effort to warm up. My target for this race was just to extend my run of sub 90 minute half marathons, so I was pleased with 01:28:55. If they retain the same course for 2020 I may give it a miss!”

Martin Gould became an impromptu pacer helping runners beat 2 hours – “Farnborough Half – What a great local event, really enjoyed the day, seeing lots of people I know. It was not planned but I helped (I think) with a Sub 2 Hour group.”

Patrick Wadsworth“Farnborough half is too early in the marathon training cycle to be more than a signpost to form and an enjoyable way to get some miles in. Weather was kind this year; it was only cold! The course had changed again and was a short loop then a long trip round the airfield and back with only minor variations on the way back. No big hills but several gentle slopes. Nice to see a few SJ out on the course and a pleasant run. I ran faster than I was expecting and enjoyed the atmosphere at the end. Would I do it again? This year was my third time and it makes a nice start to the year so I’ll be back.”

Caroline Stuart“So as I’m into marathon training, Farnborough half was a training run for me, one to use for race pace and practice. The distance slotted in nicely to the plan. The morning definitely lived up to its name as a winter half, it was freezing!! The sun did come out though at times along the route and with no pressure on me I felt relatively relaxed the whole way through and really enjoyed the run. Definitely no PB for me but that’s not what it was about for me for once! It’s amazing how different a race run can feel when there are no expectations mainly from yourself. I thought the route was a definitely an improvement on last year and the organisation and marshals were great… definitely one for next year!”

Alison Jones“This was my third Farnborough Half Marathon, since this race seems to kick off my season of races, so I look forward to it and dread it in equal measure. This is one of these races that when people know you have run it before, ask you how it is, but you cannot tell them because the course is different every year, as it will be again next year, with the intention of making the start and finish the same place. When I poked my nose out of the door at 07.00hrs on Sunday morning it was blowing a gale, which makes a change from the last 2 years where it was very cold and even colder, but by the time Sarah and I arrived at the start the sun was trying to poke through the clouds and the wind had died down to “gusty”. The course was pretty good, with the first and last four miles the same, but in reverse, so the inclines on the way out became the declines on the way back, so you knew what was coming, the sun did put in an appearance and I felt really good, for my first race of the year. Great to see loads of SJ runners and spectators out there and some great performances were laid down. As for me I have run this race in 1.53 for the last 3 years, I even considered slowing down just to get another number, but that thought was brief. What this tells me is that I am not getting any faster but on the flip side I am not getting any slower which I am happy with as I moved up an age category.”

Jacq Hudson“This was to be my second year running Farnborough Half, I signed up this year to kick start my London Marathon training, which it did perfectly as it’s so well supported by the club members and the community, the route was mostly flat, although I was disappointed to find out that we no longer entered the airport as personally that was the point of difference verses other half marathons. Bonus this year the weather conditions were perfect and it didn’t snow!”

Holly Dunn“After a few weeks of over indulging at Christmas, I’d lost my running mojo (not great when you’ve just had your marshals ballot place for the VLM confirmed!). I already had the Farnborough half booked as part of the training plan, so I had no choice but to suck it up and get on with it! I decided to just treat the race like a normal Sunday morning run, no pressure and to take it has it comes which worked like a treat! I managed to make it round with Jaqs, chatting the whole way. Not quite a PB for me, but better than I expected. Let’s hope the no pressure tactic works for London…”

Ian Bromley“When I got up and looked outside at 6am last Sunday I have to admit to being very tempted to go back to bed! It was raining hard and very windy. I’m very pleased I didn’t. It was The Farnborough Winter Half once again and I was really hoping for decent weather and in the event I got it. By the start the conditions had improved and although cold it was great weather for running (in my opinion). Having had a terrible year in 2018 my goal was to finish the race un-injured. The last race I took part in was back in March 2018 at Cranleigh which resulted in having to pull out of my VMLM marshals place with a serious calf injury. I really do like the Farnborough Half. A big race in the middle of winter is something I find very motivating, particularly over the festive period. The last two years have seen some complaints about the route, some of which I agree with, some not, but I have to admit that this year they really got it right and I hope it’s not changed again. Prior to the race I set a series of mini goals and was determined to stick to them:-
1. Take it really easy.
2. Stay with the 2 hour pacer for 10k
3. Aim to finish in about 1:55
4. If feeling good at mile 11, have a go!
5. Run an average of sub 9.
I think it’s the first time I have actually stuck to a plan and that’s why I’m so happy with a time that is nowhere near my best! I finished in 1:55:20 at an average pace of 8:44 and I stuck to that pacer like glue for the first 10k and increased to a pace of about 8:15 for the last two miles. I love the finish of the race under that amazing hanger, the goody bag, the organisation, the number pick up system and even the fact that pickup/drop off is so easy. It also helps that huge chunks of the race are on a regular route that I use for training with several members of SJ. I have now done all 3 Farnborough Half Marathons and will hopefully make this an annual event.”

Caroline Cutliffe“I just signed up for Farnborough a couple of weeks before the event as I had been out on a Sunday long run and a friend said they were doing it as a training run –  I just wanted it to be that!  But as the race approached, the usual nerves of a race crept in.  I decided to hold my nerve and put times out of my head – despite people asking what time I wanted. Started slower than normal (I know)!!! I kept the pace and crossed the line with a bit more in the tank. This strategy worked and it is the first half that I have comfortably run and actually enjoyed. Bitterly cold morning with a few unexpected undulations but great support from our amazing club and overall a nice event – recommended.”

Andy Yates“Lovely morning out at a well organised event. A bit chilly early on but soon warmed up and the aim was to get round with my wife and she ended up with a super new PB! Well placed drinks stations and a nice Goody Bag to go with the medal (particularly like the buff!) Free photo downloads too… A good early year training run in race conditions for the longer stuff to come!  Would recommend…”

Mariska Yates “So I entered the farnborough half with a bit of trepidation as I had injured my left ankle following a fall in the woods that left me with a 2nd degree ligament tear. This left me unable to train for 6 weeks. This was incredibly frustrating as I wanted to use the Farnborough Half to go for a PB in prep for the London Marathon. I found the event itself to be really well organised and I actually enjoyed myself. I ran with my husband Andy, who paced me the whole way round and Gabster who I’ll be doing the LM with. Despite the forecast the weather was perfect and the course was quite varied. The best bit was the end when I had unintentionally got a new PB and could model my fetching dryrobe on the walk back to the car. Definitely one I’d recommend to others.”

Gabi Bassett“I was impressed with the organisation of the race, particularly the bag drop where they spent the duration of the race sorting all the bags neatly into order! Great atmosphere, definitely has PB potential as its almost pancake flat, although perhaps a bit too early in the season for a PB. Liked the medal. Only negative was the lack of caps on the water bottles = spillages.”

Colin Carpenter“Yeah my run went as planned, I slotted in with Jacqueline and Holly and we managed to catch up with Michelle at 5.5 miles. We all stayed together until about 8.5 miles.  Jacqueline and Holly started to tire at this point. I was feeling ok so I just kept my pace going. I got to 12.5 miles and hit my limit. I just held it together till the finish. I was really happy with my cold and windy Farnborough run and well done to all the SJs.”

Jon Payne“This was the first time I had run the Farnborough Half and thought it would be a good opportunity to kick start my training for the year. Unfortunately I injured myself a few weeks before so couldn’t train as much as I would have liked to. With this in mind, I aimed to run the race at a steady pace and use it as a training run. The course itself was largely flat and on main roads – a good course if you’re PB hunting, but not the most exciting! I will probably be back next year, but for now I’m hoping to get some decent mileage under my belt before the Surrey half in March!”

Gareth Hopkins“This year’s Farnborough Half was my first ever half marathon. I won’t lie, I found it tough, especially running with a heavy cold, but I really enjoyed the run. It was a well-supported run and was great to see so many other Sandhurst Joggers taking part. For anyone thinking of running this one in the future, I would highly recommend it. My little one loved the penguin medal and keeps stealing it to wear!”

Jane Bannister“Nice local event well worth going to and great to meet up with everyone before we started.”

James Ratcliffe“Once again in Mid-December I was asked by Stacy’s Dad to run the Farnborough Winter Half for the Stacy and Lucy Foundation. This is a charity that is close to my heart and raises money for young local sports kids to help with training and travel. Even though I was not fully fit, and rarely run over 10k, I couldn’t really say no. I had run this race in 2018 with about the same level of fitness and had a painful time and didn’t t enjoy it, so I was determined to take the race a little easier and finish a little stronger. Knowing my current form allowed me to have a race plan to go off too fast and then settle into comfortable pace early on and look to get an average of 4:30 /Km over the distance The 2019 course had been updated and improved so that it was out and back – Luckily the very big hill (that you had to run twice) and the off road section had been removed. The lack of a snow storm during the race was also a big improvement. The first 3k was quite quick, averaging 4:04/Km. Knowing I wasn’t fully fit I slowed it down and stuck to a pace that felt more comfortable at. This turned out to be faster than 4:30/Km plan, however my theory was this time in the bank would be needed when my lack of training and stamina kicked in. I was surprised that I managed to hold a consistent pace for the most of the race –K 15 and 16 were a real struggle and I slowed down considerably. However I managed to pull myself together from 17k and lifted the pace slightly to finished just over 1:32 with an average pace of 4:21/Km. Overall I wasn’t unhappy with this and found my legs were not wasted and sore for the next couple of days. Now let’s see how the last X-Country feels.”

Charley Bryant“I thought it was a great day – really well organised and the cold, dry weather was perfect. I’ve been having a lot of hip pain but the mostly flat course and ibuprofen helped out a lot! The goody bag at the end was also fantastic.”

Lucy Ong – “Yes, I was surprised to come in under 2 hours as despite a strong initial 9 miles (for me) I lost my focus even earlier than usual and ended up actually HATING the last two miles! Had so much fantastic support from other SJs who were running (Dave Bartlett) or just spectating (Andrea Vincent)… Andrea ran along with me for some of the last section as I was ready to give up. It’s given me focus for Wokingham in a few weeks though so watch this space! (She says) Oh and PS it was bloody freezing.”

Pat Denston“Farnborough Half – A Yorkshire Man’s FOMO. I moved to Farnborough last March and really enjoy running around the streets and along the Basingstoke Canal. It was in fact a summer pub run in 2017 led by Martin Gould that inspired my wife and I to move to Farnborough in the first place! Being my usual disorganised self I didn’t think to organise a place nice and early for the Farnborough half and had a look at entering a couple of weeks ago. The entry however was £42… far too much for a Yorkshire man! The Wednesday before I was seriously worrying I was going to miss out not running the event. Trish kindly donated her place and it’s the most excited I’ve been for a half for a long time! I’m currently training to do the Krakow marathon at the end of April and wanted to use the Farnborough half as a training run. Caroline and I had a morning cuppa and made our way over to the race area, excited and a little chilly! My plan was to run at the pace I’d like to run the marathon approximately 2 hours 15 for a half with the aim to be around 4 hours 30 – 5 hours for a full marathon. My plan however took an unexpected turn. While waiting to start I felt a tap on my shoulder from a chap I worked with in Austria 11 years ago, that I’ve not seen for about 9 years. We started talking and almost missed the start of the race. This chat continued until mile 5 when I realised I’d not been taking my energy tablets, missed the first water station, no idea what pace I’m running at and not following any of the best practice instilled to me from all the wise SJs. Around the 10 mile mark we bumped in to Dave who said we were on track for about 1 hour 59. The chap I was chatting to insisted I kept going at the pace I was doing and he was going to slow down. This was when I decided to see if I could try and keep the same pace to the end and forget about the 2 hour 15 minute target I originally was targeting. With a finish time of 1 hour 58 it was quicker than planned but a great training run and a brilliant event.”

Natalie Schwartz“I’ve now just completed my first half marathon thanks to all at Sandhurst joggers for your help and encouragement. I’d have never have done it without you. I’ve never been part of a running group before and am proud to say I’m a Sandhurst jogger.”

Bev Matthews“With no official preparation I signed up on a whim just 10 days before. It was my 1st half, having only run 10 miles once plus this was just prior to signing up, Although I struggled a bit between miles 9-10 I managed to keep going and I really enjoyed it. My initial aim was just to complete it, but I was actually pleased with my finish time of 2hrs 17 mins. If I could have ordered less windy weather it would have been perfect!”

Elin Loftesnes“Having run the first two Farnborough Halfs in freezing and snowing conditions I was not sure about this year. But when I was asked by The Stacey & Lucy foundation to run for them the decision was taken for me. Stacey and Lucy who were tragically killed whilst out running were close friends of our daughter Amy and we have known them for many years. As I’ve been on the lazy side for many months when it comes to running I decided to start training after Christmas leaving me 7 weeks. 3 runs later, my longest being 6.7 miles I felt incredibly ready on the day. Fresh legs have gotten me through many races. I was absolutely fine up until 10 miles – when I really had to dig hard to get to the finish line, I also had Janet Ford chasing me down… Really nice to see SJs round on the course supporting and also a huge thanks to Royston for letting me dump all my clothes on him. Pleased to have finished only 4 min slower than last year. Must say this half is the best half around – flat and fast for those who train – and so convenient on our doorstep. And a decent goody bag at the end!”

Lucy Hale“As training steps up for the Paris Marathon in April, Farnborough was the first half of the year for me. I ran it the first year but missed last year so was looking forward to it, although the route has been tweaked slightly from two years ago. My aim was to stick to 11 minute miles. Having never tried to stick to a set average before I found this far harder then I imagined. I was constantly looking at my watch and no matter how hard I tried couldn’t get settled at 11 m/m. However I came in quicker than I had planned at 2:20, which I’m really pleased about. Saw Caroline C and Co en route which was a welcomed treat for the last 3 miles and definitely kept me going especially through the pain of running past the finish line when there was still half a mile to go! A good event in all and one I will no doubt be back for again next year.”

Sophie Le Saux“It was my 3rd year running the Farnborough half and once again it was bitterly cold! My plan was to run at an easy pace as it’s still early days in my London Marathon training. I had time to chat along the way to my SJ friends, Dave, Louisa, Lucy, Jane and Martin, to name a few. The new route is a lot flatter than the previous years and I have to say I didn’t miss the hills! At the end, I still had some energy for a sprint so perhaps I should have pushed myself a bit more! I’m definitely booking next year’s as soon as it comes out! Merci beaucoup.”

Dave Bartlett“Farnborough Half, a local meeting place for many Sandhurst Joggers. I now have a set of three medals and look forward to adding a fourth. Three consecutive years, three different courses, well organised and marshalled if you haven’t already participated do yourself a favour and register early for next year. Yes it’s cold, the weather is unpredictable, all that said it’s a great way to kick start your new year.”

Sarah Alexander“Really enjoyed Farnborough Half last year, so when I was asked if I’d like a place for this years race and run in honour of the Stacey and Lucy Foundation, of course, I entered.  I was hoping for a sub 1.50 but had only done one 10 mile training run. I had been doing more park runs and shorter runs at a quicker pace and hoped that this would all help towards achieving that. I am pleased to say I did 1.47.53. This year the course was flatter, not the most inspiring course but a fast one and although it started off cold, it was pretty good running conditions and I felt privileged to be running in memory of such inspiring and talented girls.  I am sure I will be back next year.”

Phil Guy“It is a really good half marathon with a lot of Sandhurst Joggers taking part.  This year the course changed for the third time in as many years.  The course failed to utilise the Airport which made the race special.  So instead of a looping the Airport it was 2 laps of Pystock.  After the minus 5 degrees of 2017, and the snow of 2018, 2019 saw wind and huge gusts for the runners to contend with. This year the Fleet Road took us onto the A325 back via the Army Golf course which was where I struggled as it was uphill and against the wind, 2 wrongs didn’t make right, then back to the Fleet Road and Pystock for the reverse last 4 miles. The most disappointing aspect of the course is the lack of spectators as there are very few points for the crowds to cheer you on, especially the middle section of the race. The advantage of running back on the same route is now you know what to expect. Miles 11 & 12 were downhill which helped with time, however mile 13 instead of the downhill airport run was now cobbled speed bumps which were sapping for me, not to worry a quick sprint around the business park but as I turned into the business park for the final push, I hit the monster wind tunnel, felt like I was running without moving.  A quick blast once through it into the finish and a very respectable 1:28!”


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