The distance of choice for all the Harriers who raced this weekend was the half marathon, but there were two locations on offer: Bath or Bideford. Both have in common that they offer flat, fast courses, ideal for the first timer stepping up to the half distance or for the seasoned campaigner seeking a PB opportunity. Both courses delivered on both counts with many first time Harrier half-ers bagging good times and with others obliterating their PBs. Here's how they all got on....
Seven Harriers were on the start line of the Bath Half. The entry fee for this one, at £40, is much steeper than Bideford, but in exchange it offers the thousands of runners who participate the 'big city half' feel and the fantastic atmosphere that goes along with it, which can make all the difference when running on tired legs in the last few miles. Here's how they all got on:
First Harrier home in a superb new PB time of 74:38, knocking over 2 minutes off his Exeter Half time set just 3 weeks earlier, was Adam Miller. This was good enough for 69th place overall: a top 100 finish in a field of this quality is nothing short of amazing! Adam just keeps getting better and better as the months go by and is reaching the realms of mass production when it comes to the amount of new PBs he keeps churning out! With his times from the First Chance 10k, the Exeter Half and now this race, he's also set down a good challenge for the Exmouth Harriers club championship, not to mention setting himself up very nicely for another PB attempt in London in April this year.
Exactly 4 minutes later, Adam's training partner (in crime!), Mike Musgrove crossed the line in a time of 78:34. This was an agonizing 22 seconds shy of his best ever time over the distance, set at the Bideford event in 2011. He was 130th overall and 19th MV40. This has got to be a massive confidence boost for Mike that he is in great shape at this stage of the season as he too prepares to take on London again. Also, like Adam, it represents a great start to his club championship campaign. It's also a great advert for the 400m diameter football field in Lympstone in which Mike has been clocking up the miles as Devon's up-and-coming premier training venue!! ;-)
Richard Hawes was making his debut over the distance, having seen some startlingly speedy improvements over his handful of attempts at the 10k distance over the past few months, he now felt ready to take on the next challenge. A bout of winter flu interrupting his training schedule wasn't enough to keep this new Harriers speedster from running a sub 90 minute clocking at his first half-marathon. He posted 1:29:10 for 512th place overall and 41st MV45: not bad for someone whose first ever race was only in April last year! Rich's wife, Karen (not a Harrier..... YET!), was also running in her first half at the event and completed in 2:15:33.
Next in was Jane Macdonald. No stranger to this event, Jane has run the Bath Half each year for the past three years (and she only took up competitive running in 2011, so every year since then!). Her PB on this course, and at the distance overall, was set last year (1:49:26). This year she finished just a shade outside of that in 1:52:22 for 3680th place overall, 671st female and 55th FV45.
The husband and wife team of Martin and Diana Richards were next home, just outside the 2 hour mark. Martin ran 2:04:39 for 7288th place and Diana was hot on his heels in 2:07:08 for 7645th place overall. Diana will have been pleased with this solid run in her build up for the London Marathon. The fact that less than 3 minutes separated them both and yet this equated to a difference of over 350 places gives you a good idea of just how many complete this race and are piling through the finish funnel every minute!
Celebrating her birthday with a weekend away in Bath with husband Mike and fellow Harrier friends, Nic Musgrove should be applauded for running 13.1 miles on Sunday morning when most would be still in bed in the hotel nursing a hangover! Not Nic though, who was fresh and a daisy and cantering around the course in a time of 2:11:54 for 8341st spot in this, only her 2nd ever half-marathon. Will she leave it there, or will Mike's competitiveness rub off and she'll try to get under the 2hr mark? We somehow think it might be the latter!
Well done to all the Harriers, especially to the first timers at the distance and to those setting new PBs. Don't forget, if you want your performance to count towards the Harriers' annual club championship, you need to email me (Ellie) with your D.O.B. and result!