The Very Long Half Marathon was part of the Bath Running Festival organised by Relish Running Races on July 24th, 2016. It’s one of many races held by Relish in the area throughout the year and consisted of a trail 5K, 10K, (Very Long) HM and FM. Having completed the Whitebrook Windup and Tintern Trot recently I set myself the challenge of entering the Very Long Half Marathon which weighed in at ~16 miles. I had run a similar distance before on the road so was confident I’d be able to finish.
I found out about the race at short notice and missed the deadline to register online but luckily you could still enter on the day. I arrived early and was one of the first to register on the day. I paid for the HM entry and was given a fetching pink number. Each race – 5K, 10K, HM, FM – have different colour numbers)
With time to kill I warmed up around the start line and based on the colour of numbers tried to figure out who was running the HM and FM. I spotted many blue numbers and based on the caliber of runners assumed that they must have been running the FM and the pink numbers were running the HM. The HM runners were the first to be called to the start line and everyone with blue numbers assembled ready to race! Wearing pink it dawned on me that I had been incorrectly given a FM number!
What do I do? Do I run the FM? Do I join the blue numbers of the HM? I waited for the runners to leave and then asked the marshall what to do. He told me to catch up with the HM correct the mistake at the end. Consequently I had to leave 30 seconds after the other runners but at least I got a cheer!
The incorrect number did cause a few issues around the course with some runners thinking that I was a really fast marathon runner and being cheered back when the crowd at the finishing line assumed I was the first marathon runner to complete the course!
The race starts at Bath University and all levels of race share the same course with the HM and FM extending further away from the campus. The course takes in a wide variety of terrain including woodland, fields, roads, tracks, the Kennet and Avon Canal and some monster hills, two of which involved power hikes rather than running. With such a stunning range of scenery and some decent weather, this was an excellent race.
Relish Running Races do appear to pride themselves on hosting very well organised races and despite the slight hiccup during registration, the overall event was perfect. There were plenty of well-stocked feed stations throughout the course and plenty of marshals at key spots to either help you in the right direction or offer support. Upon finishing all runners could help themselves to fruit, water, ice pops and bars of chocolate.
Despite starting in last place (138th) I managed to quickly gain places in the early stages of the race and crossed the line in 2h 32m 15s (24th). Was really happy with the result for my first (Very Long) Trail Half Marathon.