After a hot, sunny, festival-esque debut last year, I was seriously looking forward to the Surrey Half this month. And it didn’t disappoint!
Although, on a side note I did notice a few lost and confused runners at Woking station – some signage might be a good idea next time. (Pays to be local!) But once you got to the park, it was brilliantly straight forward. Signs and announcements led you straight to the bag drop, which then led you out to the portaloos, and then directly into the pens. There were exactly 2 people waiting for the portaloos when I got there at 8h45 – winning! And being at the back, I only had to shuffle a few feet down the road to wait for the start.
Being a complete numpty I forgot my Garmin, so I decided to stick behind the 2h20 pacers and see how it went. Given that my PB is the 2h22 I got last year and I haven’t come close to beating it since, I had no idea what to expect; but I decided to hang on for as long as I could, and then just focus on enjoying the run.
I stuck with the pacers for about 4 miles, before the big hill up towards Jacobs Well forced me to ease off a little. After that, I just stuck to what seemed like a fairly steady pace – and I felt pretty strong, which was a confidence booster 🙂 I finished in 2:25:13, which is slap bang in the middle of my half marathon times. I’ll take it!
The crowds lining the route were AMAZING, and the live bands were brilliant, too. The course was well marked, there were plenty of water stations (long enough and with enough volunteers that I never had to slow down or queue or zig-zag around other runners), and every volunteer I saw gave me a smile and encouragement. Thanks, you wonderful people!
But it wasn’t just the volunteers that made the day so great. Whilst they were all legends, 3 lots of spectators stick in my mind: Firstly, the women at the top of the big hill at 7 miles, who were calling ‘Come on ladies, keep going – let the men do the walking!’ which made me LOL, and stopped me from slowing down (I actually managed to hold out until 9.5 miles before I took a walking break, which I’m giving them credit for). Secondly, the little boy stood just before the 10-mile marker, who with each high-five exclaimed ‘You can make it to the end! You can all make it to the end!’. And thirdly, at 11.5 miles, someone spotted my name on my race bib and yelled ‘Go Lucy! Do it for the Lucys!’ whilst another added, ‘You’re looking fresh, dear!’ (Hahaha .. Haha..)
I love that the Surrey Half bibs have your name printed under your number. I got 3 lots of direct shout-outs, which put a huge smile on my face! Other races, take note!
The live band at the 13-mile marker were playing ‘Run to You’ as I passed, which got me a teeny bit emotional. Silly really, but still!
However, note to self – regardless of the race endorphins, DON’T SPRINT AT 13 MILES. You WILL feel like throwing up by the time you see the finish line. Luckily, I held it in, but the photos at miles 13 and 13.1 say it all:
There was just one negative point I’ll mention: The guy doing the announcements. He was pretty patronising, and riled me right up before I’d even started when he said:
‘The runners towards the front are probably just taking this as a marathon training run, but for those towards the back this will be one of the biggest achievements of their lives!‘
Excuse me, Mr, but what does speed have to do with experience? For all you know, the guy up in the front pen could be running his first ever half – whilst, I might add, plenty of us in the back were ACTUALLY using this as a training run for a full marathon.
I completely appreciate what a big achievement a half marathon is, but it’s as much of a challenge for the 1h30 runners as it is for the 2h30 ones.
It got even better when my boyfriend mentioned what the guy was spouting at the 2-hour mark:
‘Wow, with the 2-hour finishers we’re STILL getting sprint finishes!‘
Despite that, the atmosphere was brilliant. I had a bit of a chat with a couple of runners around the course, and the whole thing was cheerful, loud, encouraging, and just plain FUN. Whilst it might not have finished on a track this year, the crowds lining the finishing straight made it even better!
Disclaimer: In the end, the banana was just for the benefit of the photo. I actually tucked into the Wispa I had stashed in my bag…
The medal was pretty great, too:
Are you entering for next year? I know I will!