It was a lovely sunny morning and I arrived in Chester at 7.30am ready to catch the Park & Ride bus to the racecourse.The racecourse itself was well organised. The tent was well marked so there was no confusion about where to put baggage, pick up last minute information, safety pins etc. There were plenty of toilets on the course itself (which is the most important thing) and the local radio station was there taking photos, and keeping everyone entertained before the start. There was such a lot going on that before I knew it it was time to kick off.
I got myself to the Under 2hr pen with what felt like everybody else in the race! The loudspeaker was blaring out Take That ‘Greatest Day of My Life’ and then we were off.
The first mile took us on the main road out of the City. In that first mile I saw Dave and then a bit further along my dad and his camera. Unfortunately my dad was looking for someone wearing pink while I was wearing my green club shirt! He spotted me though as I waved and shouted as I ran past.
Once out on the wider ‘A’ roads people started spreading out and spectators got fewer. It felt like a long few miles which was made confusing by the first water station having a sign saying ‘4 miles’ when in fact it was only 3 miles. The route was pretty uneventful but nice and flat up to the halfway mark. I was surprised at hearing my name shouted (instead of Batman’s who was right behind me) and I looked across and saw Sarah waving at me frantically from her closed petrol station. That cheered me up and gave me a boost to the halfway point.
The halfway point was set up really well with funnels up to a hairpin turn into the second half. For a short distance there were runners going in both directions on the same road, there were loads of spectators and lots of shouting, cheering and clapping.At this point I was running slightly slower than 10k pace and I started to pick up speed slightly, but not too much to wear me out.
The second half was a lot more interesting to run than the first. It took us through the lanes back up into Chester via Saughall and Blacon. Some points along the way were slightly inclined and muddy in places but there was a great atmosphere going through the villages with the local residents were out cheering, supporting and throwing jelly beans.
At mile 10 I started to up the pace and started to overtake people. I was going nice and steady right up to mile 12 and then I got the unexpected ‘hill’ at the end. It didn’t look much it managed to make a lot of people stop and walk. It was horrible and by the top I was reduced to a slight shuffle and then the marshal said that when I got to the top I’d see the finish line. This was enough to get me going again and my energy picked right back up as I sprinted through the finish line waving at my dad and Dave as I flew past.
A great day, great race, great atmosphere and a lovely zoo visit in the afternoon.Oh, and my finishing time was well below my target of 2hrs. 01:54:24 and a nice shiny PB.
And yes, I’ll be back next year with a target of 01:45:00 or under!