SJs went continental this weekend! I know what you’re thinking, and no, no SJs ran from London to Limassol. But SJs certainly did run in London and and Limassol! Both half marathon distance, both ran in beautiful weather, one featuring a man in a dog costume, one featuring an SJ with an impossible tan (unless you’re running in Cyprus of course), reports from the members are below, starting in our lovely capital….enjoy!
London Landmarks Half Marathon
Angela Ronald Foker: ‘I ran the inaugural London Landmarks Half last year and loved it so was very pleased to get a ballot place this year – it is my favourite race as there is so much support and entertainment all the way round. The route takes you past St Paul’s , the Houses of Parliament , the Bow Bells even peeled for us! I have already pre-registered for next year!’
Louise Turnor: ‘On Sunday I took on the London Landmarks half marathon which was my 2nd half marathon. I had gone through a roller coaster of emotions and feelings mainly due to a back injury, bad asthma and a lack of training. When I arrived I was shocked at how well organised it was and the atmosphere was incredible seeing so many people in Trafalgar Square. The streets were lined with lots of cheer stations from the various charities taking part along with members of the public and there was live bands, choirs and dancers. It was a very emotional day and I was very lucky to have mans best friend to help me through it. I loved it that much I’ve already got myself a charity place for next year running for Guide Dogs Association.’
Dave Bartlett: ‘I’ve never been one for chasing the big events, but based on the reports and feedback following last years LLHM, I took the plunge and decided to enter the ballot. This decision was also heavily influenced by the fact that a close friend who had never run more than 5k before entered in a hope of running it with his brother! As ballots go, I got in, he never and as it happens his brother withdrew due to injury! I’d also taken the decision to give up my run and do all I could to raise money for Guide Dogs running in yes, you saw it right, a golden retriever mascot suit.
At 06:30 on Sunday morning we set off with Louise Turnor as a group of three who had since registration decided that we would work together and do what we could to finish together. Arriving in the city it became apparent that this was no small event and almost every runner fortunate to gain a place was running on behalf of a chosen charity. Starting in waves based on forecast finish times the start was well managed and the route predominantly flat given the goal of 13.1 miles. Through the early stages the level of support was high and this was boosted by choirs, drum corps, steel bands, charity cheer stations and goodness knows what. Winding through a high number of landmarks it was a great sight seeing opportunity, that said I appeared to lost the focus on these as I stopped at every source of entertainment to take photos, videos and water the dog. Arriving at mile 13 I was pleased to have completed every step fully costumed and as I finished I was delighted to see Chelsea Pensioners helping out with medal hanging.
Being an ex serviceman it was great to be awarded a medal by one of those that gave so much through their time serving our country. All in all a very organised, marshalled and attended event, I’ve pre registered for 2020 and I would strongly encourage those that are looking for a new challenge to take advantage of the fact that they had pacers from the quickest to the slowest in every start wave. With 51 weeks to go I’m looking forward to taking it on again.’
Limassol Half Marathon
Claire Rowse: ‘I am a member of an online running community called Run Mummy Run and in March 2018, a group of around 30 ladies took the trip to Cyprus to take part in the Limassol Marathon weekend. Last year this weekend fell on the same weekend as Reading half, so whilst we were blasted in snow in the UK resulting in the cancellation of Reading (which I was supposed to be running), my news feed was filled with glorious pictures of Cyprus in the sun and my friends and I all said “why aren’t we in Cyprus?”
So when Run Mummy Run announced that they would be making the trip again in 2019, myself and 3 friends, including Kirsty Darcy who is also a Sandhurst Jogger, quickly decided to book our places for the weekend away. Run Mummy Run arranged the whole weekend for us, and the package included 5* star hotel, all transfers both from the airport and to the races, entry to the 5k corporate race on the Saturday, entry to the race of our choice on the Sunday (we all chose to run the half marathon), pasta party on the Saturday night and post-race party on the Sunday. We just needed to book our own flights in addition to this.
On Saturday morning, we were picked up at 7.15 and we quickly managed to grab something to eat beforehand before heading down to the marathon village by Limassol marina. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining and it was quite warm. The race on the Saturday was a 5k Corporate Race with 10,000 entrants, of all ages and abilities, runners, walkers, kids in pushchairs, dogs…..and for this reason, it meant that the first couple of km were slow. The route left the marina, along the promenade, onto the open road and back again and once out onto the road, there was more space and the opportunity to run properly.
At the end of the race, we were presented with medals and water, greek yoghurt and an alcohol free beer which is full of electrolytes apparently! We had a ticket for a free bus back to the hotel, but the roads were closed for the race so no buses were around. So we started to walk back to the hotel which was 5.5km away but managed to pick up a couple of taxi’s on the way for the rest of the journey home. We had the rest of the day to ourselves so we made the most of the sun and spent the afternoon relaxing around the pool.
On the Saturday evening we decided to give the pasta party a miss, so stayed in the hotel. We enjoyed happy hour (€3 for a cocktail = very dangerous), followed a Run Mummy Run meet up where the whole group got together, followed by a carb-loaded dinner and the sensible decision of an early night in preparation for the next day.
The alarm was set for 4.30am (2.30 UK time!) on the Sunday, but I was already awake by this time. The hotel opened the restaurant early for all of us runners so I managed to force down a small bowl of porridge and a cup of tea before the coach arrived at 6.00am to pick us up. We made the usual bag drop and visit to the toilets (the WORST portaloos we have ever seen or smelt) and headed to the start area ready for the race to start at 7.40am. The marathon had already started, the half was next, followed by a 10km and 5km.
Again it was a lovely morning, the sun was shining and it was already feeling warm. The route was mostly flat, with only 525ft elevation gain over the whole distance. Again, it was an out and back course, following the main road through Limassol out to just past Amathus ruins and back again. Before the race, I had said I would be running this easy as I have Manchester marathon coming up in 2 weeks, but after the first mile, I couldn’t control myself and found myself running comfortably at my usual pace. I like running in the heat, but I think a lot of other runners struggled and it was low 20’s by the time we finished. There were plenty of water stations en route, offering water, gels, fruit, fizzy drinks, and sponges. Spectator support was limited, although I was lucky to have some friends who live in Cyprus come out and cheer me on near the halfway point.
Again, at the end of the race we received medals, water and beer. I waited for my friends to all finish, we rewarded ourselves with a well deserved ice cream, and myself and one other decided that we would walk back to the hotel today. This was a nice walk which included a paddle in the sea, and the chance to cheer on other runners completing the marathon that we saw on the way, including the infamous man who was running the marathon with a pineapple on his head!
We had time to relax around the pool in the afternoon and rehydrate with some cocktails of course, before we headed out to the post race party in the evening. This was held down in the race village with live bands and DJ’s performing all day until the early hours. It was during this evening that we first met the inspiring mother and daughter, Jacquie and Camilla (they run a blog – This is How We Run) who were pacing for the marathon and hold the Guinness world record for the most marathons run together by a parent and child.
On Monday morning, there was a bit of time to relax and enjoy the last bit of sunshine before we headed home. It was an emotional goodbye with some of the new friends we had made over the weekend.
All in all, this was an amazing weekend. For me, it was so much more than just the running, it was the chance to relax and have some fun with friends, both new and old, and I met some truly inspiring people.’
Some brilliant recaps from what sound like two very well organised and very enjoyable events! Do I hear someone say SJ weekend away in Limassol…….?!