Sunday 12th September. It was billed 5th in the Runners World top 50 UK races of 2009.
I can honestly say it didn't dissapoint. A smaller half than I had been used to (compared to Bath and Bristol) with only around 1,300 starters, and very local to home (around 15 minute drive), so the decision to run this one was a no brainer! A friend who runs with Chippenham Harriers (the event organisors) had recommended it and, together with the RW ratings from last year, it looked to be a good race to get involved in.
A later than usual alarm call for a Sunday morning race made for a more leisurely time to get ready, comforted in the knowledge that the race was only 15 minutes away. I was going on my own and had arranged to meet Ellen and the kiddies at the end. This was great as I only had myself to worry about and Ellen could spend some quality time in the park with the kids instead of dragging them around the course, and then cheer me in as I finished.
Parking was superbly organised at a local school with only a short walk to the 'race village' at the local sports ground. A beautifully stunning day made for a really friendly and relaxed atmosphere. NO QUEUE FOR THE TOILETS!!!!!!!
Onto the race.
With only 1,300 runners lined up, as soon as the gun/horn went it meant you were well into your stride straight away. A gradual climb for around a mile then led into a long downhill into the town centre. After a quick climb back out of the town centre the course was mainly flat to undulating; certainly less undulations than Bath and Bristol. This led to a quick first half which prompted the question of burning out. Looking around it seemed others were of the same mind but a silent concensus to push on prevailed!
With such a stunning day it inevitably started to get hot, however bottled water was given out at aid stations every 3 miles! I remembered to stash a gel as I'd been slowing up at the 10/11 mile mark recently, and so downed it at about mile 8 in the hope that it would see me through the latter stages. It seemed to do the trick.....for a while but then the quick pace started to take it's toll. Ignoring the tiredness I pushed on and the final mile was a nice downhill stretch back to the sports field. One turn from the finish I spotted Ellen and the Kiddies and our friend Sophie and her kiddies which spurred me on. Unfortunately at this point I noticed 01:40 on my Garmin and therefore realised the sub-01:40 time had evaded me yet again. However, I was still on for a great time and a new PB.
01:41:39 at the finish line. Well pleased but still craving for that sub-01:40.
Overall, a truly great race, well organised with a more local/personal feel which gets lost at the bigger events. A great goodie bag to - tech. tee, medal, drink, sweets, biscuits, banana etc all for under £20. Ellen and the kiddies had a great time too. She has stopped coming to races like the Bristol Half due to the sheer volume of people to get three kiddies around. More local races methinks.
Well done Chippenham Harriers, same time next year!
P.S. 2 glasses of red the night before. Maybe this is the way forward?