Race review: Coventry Half Marathon

On a very cold and crisp winter’s morning in February, I, along with  around 5,000 other runners made the early morning trek to Coventry for the Decathlon Half Marathon. With the high of the day barely reaching 4°C the  overriding word of the day was COLD! As we lined up for the start, I was beginning to regret my decision to wear shorts; half way around as I went up the hill into a headwind, I definitely regretted wearing them. However, that did not spoil what was a very good and very well supported race around the Coventry countryside.

Race information

  • Where: Coventry
  • When: 28th February 2015
  • Distance: 13.1 miles
  • Weather: Cold and dry

Swag

IMG_7168
The contents of my Goodie Bag!
As I crossed the line I was immediately wrapped up in a foil blanket and presented with a chunky medal and an overflowing goodie bag, full of food. What more could a runner want?

I stupidly gave up sugar for Lent, so I cannot eat the majority of this. But they are in the cupboard ready for me to enjoy after Easter.

Support/Marshalling

I have run a lot of half marathons and the on-course support was up there with the big city races. There were so many people about, bands on the course and a superfluity of running clubs with their flags screaming their support as we climbed up yet another hill.  As we ran into Allesely Village we were met by a brass band and carnival atmosphere, which was very appreciated at the top of the hill. A particular mention has to be made to the group at mile 2 (which was also mile 12) who were handing out oranges to runners as they came past and urging us all on. How they all managed to maintain their enthusiasm on such a cold day is beyond me.

Water stops were frequent and well manned, and water was served in bottles rather than cups which is always preferable in my experience. I don’t know about you, but I tend to wear more than I drink when the water is provided in a cup!

Unfortunately, marshalling was one area where this race let itself down. There seemed to be a lot of support, but very few marshalls monitoring the course. At one point in the course, between miles 8 and 9, there was a short out and back loop to make up the distance. At most races there is a marshall at the top and a timing mat at the bottom to stop the more unscrupulous runners from dramatically shortening their race. Coventry had none of these, and I saw a couple of runners straight line the corner and in doing so knock a mile off their race. I know that this doesn’t impact me in any way, but it irritates me nonetheless!

Scenery

Surprisingly scenic! Who knew the suburbs of Coventry were so picturesque? I didn’t and I lived there for 2 1/2 years! 

Organisation  

The race started in Festival village which is not a very large area of Coventry and it felt very cramped with so many people around. It was so busy in fact that I lost my husband and didn’t see him again until after the race. Even though it as cramped, the start area did need some more toilets. Having arrived very early and after the parking kerfuffle, I needed the loo. Unfortunately, the queue was very long by this point and it took me nearly 25 mins to actually get to use one, by which time I was running to the start to make it to the pen in time.

Course

Hilly.  The course went up hill out of Coventry for around 8 miles before turning back towards town. There were two very steep hills between 5&6 and 7-8, but physics dictates that what goes up must come down and the final 5 miles of downhill were pure bliss. 

Getting there and getting back

The less said about the parking situation the better. I am not going to incriminate myself by admitting to where I parked, but I was pleasantly surprised not to find a ticket or a clamp on my car when I returned. Next time, I am getting the train!

Verdict:  

 Amazing support, great, but challenging route. Organisation needs improving and a timing mat on the little loop at mile 8 wouldn’t go amiss. However, those little niggles do not detract from what is an excellent race. I’ll be back, but next time I’ll go for tights not shorts! 

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