No, the header image today is not some child’s feeble attempt to draw an aeroplane on gb.mapometer or map my run. It is in fact, the course for the Raceways Spring Shakespeare Half Marathon which was held at Long Marston airfield on Saturday 12th March.
Weather wise it was the perfect running day, the kind of day that you dream about, and wish for, before any race. It was warm but not too warm (around 12°C), sunny, and dry with no wind.
For those that are not familiar with the Raceways set up, there were four races taking place on Saturday, a 5K (one lap), 10k (2 laps) a Half Marathon (4 laps + an out and back loop) and, for the mentally toughest runners only, a Marathon ( 8 1/2 laps).
- Where: Long Marston Airfield, Stratford
- When: 12th March 2016
- Distance: 13.1 miles (my Garmin registered 13.31 though)
- Weather: Sunny and calm!
It is a very small race so the finishing pack was limited, but saying that I still got a medal, a banana and a bottle of water. There was also a plentiful supply of biscuits and chocolate I could have helped myself to, but as I gave up sugar for lent I passed on the opportunity!
Marshalling at this race is always excellent. There was a very enthusiastic marshall at every turning on the point cheering you on, and as you entered the finishing straight (or start of the next lap) there was a mass of spectators and finishers cheering you on.
The support levels dwindled as the race went on, and people left the area, but the marshalls’ enthusiasm was boundless.
There is no way to sugar coat it; it’s a boring course but then four laps of the most picturesque park would get dull by the end. The course may be boring but you don’t run the Raceways events for the scenery, you run them for the flat, traffic free course and excellent PB potential.
The organisation was excellent. I entered online last year, and received many emails since then letting me know about the plans for the day. In the week before the race I received an email with a full race information pack with timings and directions of how to get there.
No numbers are sent out in advance for Raceways events, and all race numbers have to be picked up in advance. The organisation team is very clear in their pre race emails that registration for all events closes at 9.30am, and they mean it! The registration process itself was smooth and pain free, and within a few minutes of arriving, I had my number and was ready to go. Simples!
The course was slightly different this time around as it was run in reverse meaning that what was the finishing straight previously was now the starting straight. As Saturday was a phenomenally calm day, this made little to no different, but on a windier day, this change means that the wind will be with you, rather than against you.
Another change was that the starts for each of the distances we’re staggered and that the additional loops required for the half marathon and marathon were run first. Once this loop was over I was free to concentrate on getting around my four laps. I have run the Raceways Half Marathon before in 2014 and did the 10km race last year, so I knew what I was getting myself into, but it was still tough. The first three laps were fine, but the final one was tortuous. I don’t know how the marathon runners do it. You honestly couldn’t pay me to do the marathon course; 81/2 laps? I’d go insane.
Getting there and getting back:
As the run is held within the confines of Long Marston airfield, getting in and out is easy. The race offers copious amounts of free parking for all competitors, and as each of the distances finish at different times, there are no bottlenecks when leaving.
Top marks! I didn’t manage to crack my PB this time around, but I had a lot of fun trying. My failure was more down to my piss poor pacing rather than the race, I learnt as I started my final lap that I can run 10 miles at my ideal half marathon pace, but not 13.1! The organisation was impeccable and I will be back in the Summer for another PB attempt!