Race report by Dave Phillips.
This event has many “firsts” about it. First it’s probably the toughest ½ in the UK as it goes all over, up and down the Chiltern Hills. It’s definitely the best organised and marshalled event anywhere. The medal and T Shirt come 1st in any collection. Plus it’s the first time that I came last in a race!
Also it’s the only dual event where there is a 7 miler and the half marathon so another 1st.
Again I was doubtful whether I should get up at 06:30 and ruin my knee (again and more), but I did and got there at 08:15 for the 09:30 start.
I reckon there were up to 2,000 entrants for both events so a superb field where there should (on a normal day) be runners behind me. In fact there were ‘till 12.9 miles but more later!
The first 5 miles are just up and up and up on small roads through the fabulous forests and wooded slopes that are a great part of the Chilterns and today all in their stunning Autumn glory. Yes the sun was very bright but it was very cold and windy. By 5 I was pretty well alone then the downhill to 6 was a struggle as the knee doesn’t like downward hill running at the moment so the race walk continued.
Then at 6 we turned left and straight back again to the top of the Chilterns at 8. Thankfully as we were on the top it was flattish for a while and the breath taking views and red kites made it all worthwhile. 9 to 10 was straight down again (ughh) and 10-11 all uphill again (ugh, ugh).
At lease at this stage the end was near as we arrived back out of the wooded areas and into the outskirts of Marlow (a lovely but ultra-expensive town-as you would expect on the Thames in Bucks).
Then at 12 I heard a van behind me not bothering to overtake. Why not I thought? I turned round and it was the St John sweeper van with several sweeper marshals following the 2 last runners. I held them off ‘till a lousy very downhill bit where I could only hobble and the runners passed me but the marshals kept me company. By the end I had a gang of a dozen or so officials jogging with me all determined to make sure I beat the cut off time of 3 hours (not really enforced of course).
So after loads of friendly chatting I sprinted (ha ha ) for the line and easily beat the cut off.
Dave Phillips 2 hrs 59 mins 32 seconds.