Sophie Berry has written a race report on Reading Half Marathon, Sunday 17th March.
Very early Sunday morning Anne-Marie, John, Bea, Simon and I set off for Reading half marathon. After an unsuccessful meet up at the leisure centre (gates don’t open until 7am) we headed to Tesco where John may or may not have slightly bumped a wall.
Thankfully we were kindly chauffeured to Reading by Simon who seemed to be a lot more alert and awake than the rest of us. Somehow, I managed not to nod off on the long journey to Reading and we arrived with plenty of time to explore. The race village was well setup with lots of food and gratefully received coffee. The buzz and music of the race village got us all very excited and the anticipation of 13 miles whilst marathon training seemed like a dream. As it was such a cold and windy morning I tried to leave it as late as possible to take off all my layers and put the facilities to the test.
Firstly, the baggage drop was well organised, bags were easily labelled and sorted. What’s a race report without mention of the toilets … well there were plenty of well-maintained toilets on hand. Considering how many people attended, the queue was quick, even at its peak it took under 10 minutes. The walk to the start line was well directed but took about 10 minutes. Runners were sectioned into different waves and can you believe it, there were even more toilets! It was at this point we noticed the number of fancy-dress runners, Vikings, storm troopers and men running in big hats. Surely, I couldn’t let these Vikings get ahead of me!
The race was chip timed and started gradually in the different waves, by the time I passed the start it was already 5 mins since the first group had gone and so it was well spread out. I tried my best to stay just ahead of the 1:50 pacer after 3 years of being so close but scrapped that plan at mile 2 when a tiny hill got the better of me. The course itself was very flat in comparison to our usual hilly runs, just a couple of small bumps along the way. We went out through the suburbs of Reading, did a lap of the university campus and then headed through the town centre. The support was excellent and there was plenty of entertainment too including a large choir and a very noisy band in the shopping centre car park which we’d been warned about earlier.
I felt like I had a lot of personal fans with my name being printed on the race number. Anne-Marie was slightly less fortunate as she was running near to the storm trooper whom selfishly hogged a lot of the attention. Luckily the Vikings didn’t overtake me, and Bea even made friends with some pirates along the way. Despite losing the 1:50 pacer early I had a good race, I got into my stride and sat comfortably around the 8:30 pace. There were water and Lucozade stops at regular intervals and children handing out sweets. If I had been taking it a little slower, I might even have accepted the beer being given out at mile 9! The only tough bit of the race was the home stretch, 2 miles along a dual carriageway with the stadium in site. Luckily the stadium finish really does finish it off nicely.
At the finish line we were given our goody bags which consisted of a water bottle, T-shirt and protein bar, the medals were very heavy too. The police were handing out foil blankets which was much appreciated on such a cold windy day.
Again, bag collection was smooth, and toilets were aplenty. The only facilities lacking in the race village were changing facilities as John found out after being told off for nearly flashing! We managed to regroup despite the crowds and nearly losing Simon before heading home. All in all, a lovely well organised race which I’d recommend.