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Wycombe Half Marathon: Race report

July 19, 2010

Wycombe Half Marathon start line

Around 20°C, overcast, bit windy

Sometimes fast times at a race look less than promising. In this instance, I’d completely forgotten I’d signed up for the half marathon until the race pack arrived through my door two weeks before the event. In the muggy heat of the time, I crammed in a plodding 14-mile run to convince myself I was capable of doing the distance in what promised to be very oppressive humidity.

Still, relieved that the heat had lifted to be replaced by grey clouds and a fresher breeze, I turned up at the competitors’ car park just in time to see a man putting the finishing touches to his full-on devil costume. Horns, face paint, cape, tights, fork – the works. Evidently no rest for the wicked. It occurred to me that this might be a slightly larger race than I’d initially assumed.

In fact, there were slightly under 1000 runners doing the half marathon, their numbers bloated by the 315 runners doing the 10k, which started at the same time and followed the same course for a couple of miles.

The race takes in a 225ft hill in the first mile and a half, which is grueling and leaves you with well-worked legs and lungs before you’re even a quarter of the way through the race. Around the six mile mark, there’s an equivalent down-hill section, which is equally hard going as you embrace gravity – but try not to embrace it too much.

The course itself quickly leaves Wycombe, but spends a surprisingly long time snaking through residential streets. There were marshals on every junction, although some of them had a penchant for giving alarmingly late directions. The previous year there had been an incident with the front runners of the 10k where the leading pack had been inadvertently let to go in the wrong direction. It’s perhaps unsurprising to see how that could have happened with numerous junctions to traverse.

The other thing to note is that there are a lot of pavement sections, with some road closures. It’s easy to keep to the pavement most of the time when the pack is thinned out, but in the midst of the main swell of runners it must have been difficult to stay out of the road.

Lessons learnt

  1. Remember races and structure training around them… Really should have remembered this race, and perhaps done some hill work in preparation for the first couple of miles.
  2. Push up hills and down hills, and use the flat stretches to recover. Sounds masochistic, but it seems to work.
  3. Shorten your stride length on the down hill sections to take the pressure out of the footfalls, but increase the speed of turnover to make the most of the speed.
  4. Patience. It’s been a while since I’ve run a distance race, so it took a while to get used to the need to avoid bursts of speed and try to pick off runners over time. But if you can keep fresh for the last few miles, it works.


Finish time: 1:24:36

Position: 13 out of 987

Mile 1: 6:57

Mile 2: 6:38

Mile 3: 5:59

Mile 4: 6:04

Mile 5: 6:21

Mile 7: 5:48

Mile 8: 6:29

Mile 9: 6:31

Mile 10: 6:28

Mile 11: 6:35

Mile 12: 6:46

Mile 13: 6:36

Mile 13.1: 0:59

One Comment leave one →
  1. Shaun permalink
    July 20, 2010 2:21 pm

    Good race report as usual. Those hills made the old lower legs feel a bit stiff on Monday. Running on stiff legs to soon after a race is a shortcut to injury. Recovery work-out for me in the gym today (no running) and then i’m only running on soft ground for a couple of weeks (recommended) to avoid getting stress fractures after such a hard, fast run.

    Ps : It’s about time you finished ahead of me by the way 😉

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