Baldock Beast Half Marathon – 26.2.17

Race Report by Lisa Jay
My reasons for entering this were pretty straightforward, I was in Hertfordshire celebrating family birthdays and ‘needed’ a decent training run as part of my Geneva marathon preparation.
Having collected number from local pub day before, I had a gentle stroll from my Mums house to the race start point which is the start of the Old Wallington Road, a farm track used by walkers and cyclists.   About 300 runners were taking part, local clubs North Herts Road Runners, Fairlands Valley Spartans and Hitchin Hares were all out in force, was surprised to be stood in bag drop next to a lovely lady from Spa Striders who like me was visiting family and decided to race (she did very well as was first WV35).
We lined up by finished time and within 3 minutes we were off, first mile is slight incline along gravel track across the A10 and bring out onto Wallington Road which is where the fun and hills begin with 2 miles of climbing until you reach the village.  I wasn’t expecting the whole village to be out in force cheering and the kids had chalked the roads with motivational slogans which was a nice touch.  Course then goes downhill then across a couple of fields and then back on road towards Sandon again more hills but lots of chatty runners and friendly marshals making the time pass quickly.
At Sandon again everyone is out on the street, it’s a looped section at miles 7 and 9.5 so heading towards the wooded offroad bit I was met with the speedier runners coming the other way.  The offroad part was actually welcome relief from the hills and although muddy was easily negotiated in road shoes and the debris from Doris had been cleared away making for a clear route.
Back on the road and hills just keep coming, a few speedy downhills bit two killer ones at 10.5 and 11.5 miles, not helped by the wind blowing against us across the the open fields, By his point my legs were in pain, had no humour for the fantastic views just wanted it over.  Mile 12 sees us back on the gravel track, mainly downhill but into ferocious wind until last 500 metres which is a slight incline across to the finish line.
Very low key finish, but lots of runners still milling around including some old school friends of mine.   Got my medal, an ‘I tamed the Baldock Beast’ T-Shirt and a decent bacon roll (which is definitely not a batch when you’re 24 miles from London!), one of the organisers came up to me asked how I found the course, marshals etc, which was a nice touch considering the race is now in it’s 6th year, I honestly couldn’t fault any of it.
My time was 2:18, which was nowhere close to a PB but within my target of 2:30.
Would I do it again?  Yes, for those who have done Ashby 20 it’s very similar in terms of elevation, friendly runners and local support.  The mixed terrain breaks things up which I liked and judging by my aching legs this morning it’s been beneficial to my marathon training!