Well, where do I begin? It was hot! Really hot!
The day did indeed dawn bright and sunny as forecast and the race didn’t start until midday, allowing things to really warm up. A minor work crisis meant I was late leaving home and I hate being late, ever! And I never trust the extra contingency time I always build in to allow for such crises so this is never a good start to any event. On the way I realised this had also caused me to forget to clean my teeth – I mean, by the time you’re well (!) into adulthood, how on earth can you forget to clean your teeth?? And the canal bridge at Fretherne was open – only ever when you’re late! The other half was just smug in the knowledge that on this occasion I couldn’t blame him.
We duly arrived (in plenty of time!) to be greeted by the ever smiley Marcia which restored my equilibrium. I had never been to Westonbirt school before and the building and grounds are beautiful. We then bumped into Lizzie Figgis which was lovely. We did the usual loo queuing (well, one of us did, the other completely failed to notice the queue which was hilarious for the rest of us). We did a warm up lap and then made our way to the official warm up area. There we were greeted by Caroline Cratchley and her husband Steve, a lovely surprise as we didn’t know they were coming to support us. We joined in the warm up routine (after a fashion, I was reminded why I could never get on with group exercise, always going right whilst everyone else is going left) and made our way to the start.
A couple of minutes after midday there was an announcement of a delay to the start, someone was unwell and needed to be treated and moved out, possibly by air ambulance, before we could start. The response was reassuringly positive with everyone contentedly sitting or lying on the grass, enjoying the sunshine. We were told at 12:45 that the casualty was en route to hospital but thankfully well enough to go by ambulance and we were off.
On our way out of the school grounds we saw Jennie Marshall plus the rest of our support crew (who by this time were probably quite rightly keen to get to the bar, to be honest). Much of the route is on quiet country lanes. Very soon after setting off we saw the air ambulance still sitting in a field. I found this very moving but I always do when I see the air ambulance.
The roads were not closed but there was very little traffic so this did not present a problem. It is a pretty flat route with a few undulations that would present no problems to seasoned Allrunners used to the hills around Stroud. There were 3 water stations also offering sweets and crisps, the latter I am sure would have been particularly welcomed by those running the half marathon (which started at 10am) on such a warm day.
We then came back into the school grounds into a cool, wooded area, most welcome after the exposed lanes. This is a two lap race which took us back through the school grounds, past our lovely support crew, and back out to the lanes, seeing our very own Gavin Townsend who was marshalling on the way back out. It was now VERY warm and quite a few people were walk/running by this time. I think my generally, shall we say ‘steady’, pace saved me and I did manage to keep trotting the whole way round. I met some lovely runners to chat to, as you do, and was very pleased that no one I saw was really struggling with the heat.
Back into the school grounds once again and to the finish. Great support at the end with lots of happy, smiling people enjoying the sunshine. Over the finish line to take delivery of a very nice medal and some very welcome water and congratulations from Marcia and the support crew. We had paid extra for fish and chips and a beer and it was lovely to sit in the sunshine to enjoy these in such beautiful surroundings – inside and out.
We did see one runner receiving first aid at the finish, I’m guessing heat/dehydration-related, but I was heartened not to see more people suffering with the heat and reminds us all of the importance of proper hydration and being prepared to adapt our run to the conditions.
Would I do this race again? Definitely, it was a great event, well organised and the emergency appeared to be handled well. Oh, and a fab medal with bunnies on it, Andrea 🤣