Ashwell Multi-Terrain Half Marathon Race Report

I thought I was done with races for the year, having had a pretty busy debut season of triathlon, and lots of club activities with Freedom Tri, but as I’m running the Brighton Marathon next April, I thought I better get back up to distance sharpish, so entered the Ashwell Multi-Terrain half marathon (and the Bedford Half Marathon in a fortnights time).

Well, training has been vague and non specific for this race. Up until last week’s 10 mile training run, I hadn’t ran further than 7 or 8 miles in one run since the beginning of May, so a 13.1 mile half marathon might be a bit of an ask! Having had a busy season of triathlon, the longer distance running had to be put on the back burner for a bit, as I’ve been doing a fair amount of cycling and swimming over the summer, and there just aren’t enough days in the weekend to squeeze all the training in.  I think

Race prep had been similarly tricky. I’ve been suffering with a niggly back for the past few days, and that combined with a very late night last night, taking my daughter Erin to a gig at the O2 in London, I was pretty well knackered before I got to the start line.

At least the race was nice and local, so didn’t have to get up at stupid o’clock. However, as there was no parking at the race HQ, the organisers had layed on busses from Baldock to the race start.

After my usual race day breakfast of porridge and a coffee, I arrived in Baldock just after 8am, and got the bus to race HQ, and picked up my race number, lucky 173.

I met up with some tri club mates, and had a good chat and catch up.

I’d arranged to run with Rachel from the club, as it was her first half marathon, having only raced 10k previously. As it was a 2 lap race, hilly and partly off road cross country, and we were both carrying niggled, we decided to start off steady, and see how the first lap went.

As this was a fairly small local race, with only about 200 runners, there was no massive queues for the toilets, which was a bit of a result, as that’s often a problem.

It was cold, so we stayed in the shelter of the baggage barn for as long as possible, and left it to the last minute to go to the race start. We duly lined up for a 10am start, and put ourselves at the 2:10 finishing marker.  The race started promptly, so we weren’t hanging about in the cold too long.

The first part of the course was on concrete, but that soon ran out, and we were straight into the mud. It wasn’t raining thankfully, but it was very sticky underfoot, and there was a good bit of slipping and sliding. We did see someone go down early on in the race, but fortunately she jumped straight back up again and was able to carry on OK.

I was mistakenly wearing road shoes with my elastic triathlon laces, which are great for a speedy transition in triathlon, but was very worried about losing a shoe to the mud. I felt my foot come out of my shoe a few times, but luckily they stayed put.  The mud track was pretty much bang on a mile.  We passed the first mile marker in 9:56, so based on that, we were pretty much bang on target for a 2:10 half.

Here’s a pic of my feet after I got home.  It really doesn’t do the mud justice, as I’d cleaned off the worst of the mud, and walked a lot of it off.

Mud!

Mud!

After the mud of the first mile, we turned onto road. I’m much happier on road, as I’ve always done most of my training on road. The second mile pretty much all downhill, that combined with being on road, we nailed mile 2 in 9:20.  Mile 3 was mostly uphill. It was a fairly long and grueling hill, but thankfully we’ve done quite a lot of hill training in the Freedom Tri run session, so we were fairly well conditioned.

3 and a bit miles in, and we passed the water station.  The organisers were providing water and hydration drinks, so I necked a cup of hydration drink, and we cracked on.  The rest of mile 4 was flatish, then mile 5 turned back to uphill – the second proper hill of the lap.

We passed the 10k mark in just under an hour, and the half way mark in about 1:03.  Still on target for sub 2:10.

Although we had spoken before the race of only doing 1 lap, this was never mentioned during the race. Rachel and I just motored on onto the second lap, and back onto the mud mile.  I almost lost my footing second time around, which would have resulted in me getting VERY muddy, but thankfully I managed to pull it back.

The second lap was unsurprisingly similar to the first:

Mud
Hill
Drink
Hill
Drizzle
Finish

This is the first lapped race I’ve done when I’ve not really minded the laps.

The second half of the race was a bit slower than the first, as fatigue was kicking in and the lack of training was starting to show.

Despite slowing down a little bit, Rachel and I managed to run every step of the race.  We completed the race in a chip time of 2:08:42, which I was very pleased with, and really proud of Rachel for completing her first half marathon 24 minutes quicker than my first half.

All in all, the race was very well organised and very friendly.  It was only the second time the race had been ran, and it showed that a lot of thought had been put into it.  At the finish line, there was plenty of bottled water, bananas and protein bars being handed out to all finishers, and a nice medal and rubber wristband.  I’ll definitely be coming back for the third installment of this race next November.

Here’s me and my medal once I’d arrived home:

Medal :)

Medal 🙂

The organisers had even arranged for free sports massages at the end, so I jumped at the chance of having my legs battered.  I was wincing as my calves were pretty sore while they were being smashed, but I’m sure I’ll be grateful of it in the morning.

This run has taken me to 30 miles for the week, and 900 miles for the year.  Maybe I will hit 1,000 for the year.  With 5 weeks to go, and another half marathon in a couple of weeks, this could be on.

Position: 149 out of 169 finishers.

Medal: Yes! 😀

PB: No.

Here’s the vital Garmin data, for all you stats fans:

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/408299400

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