Race Report by Alison Lowe
Having run the Southampton 10km last year after winning a place in a Twitter competition I decided to move up to the Half Marathon distance this year. I got a charity place with Southampton Hospital Charity after my Dad spent his last days there back in November. This year the event added a marathon which was 2 laps of the half route – so the half route was amended and run in reverse.
Having attended the event last year with Dad, this year I knew where I needed to go so I just followed the same travel plan and arrived at the event village in plenty of time. There were plenty of toilets, bag drop off was easy and I managed to catch up with some people at the Charity stall in the Race Village.
The day had started quite cloudy and misty almost but by the start at 10am I could feel the warmth of the sun. The route took us out of the City heading north towards Southampton Common and past where the old Southampton FC and Hampshire County Cricket Clubs grounds used to be. At Mile 2 we entered the Common where the parkrun takes place. I had run this back in January and was surprised then that it wasn’t that flat but it was nice and shady as the sun was now beginning to get stronger. At mile 4 we left the Common and were back out on the road going into the University area – soon after I heard a chap next to me swear. I thought he had injured himself but realised he had look ahead and seen rather a steep hill. Noone else seemed to walk so I did run up it but felt really warm at the top so took it steadier from then on. After a couple more miles we crossed a bridge over the river and down into Riverside Park which runs alongside the river. The views were glorious but I could feel the heat then and slowed my pace down . I had travelled down on my own and had a 2 hour drive back so could not afford to feel too ill at the end!. We did a lap of the park and then were heading back down to the City – back over the river on another bridge and then by Mile 10 we had arrived at St Mary’s stadium- home of Southampton FC. This was a great feature on the 10km last year – running through the stadium and along the side of the pitch.
By this stage I had slowed down and was feeling ok and saw the signs for ‘Just a parkrun to go’. However coming up was the run’s showpiece – the Itchen Bridge. This is 800m long and (as you can see from the photo) from a distance looks like one of the hills at Illmington. But not only do we run over it – we had to run back as well. As we went up onto the bridge and I had to concede and I did walk a bit but the views from up there are glorious, looking along the river and out to the docks so I was happy to take my time ! Once off the bridge we were then on Mile 12 – it then seemed to take forever to get back into the City – I thought I would never get to the finish. At the end we were met with a medal, goody bag and great t-shirt. I also tried the Erdinger alcohol free beer which was just what I needed at that moment. I had a train to catch so headed off to the baggage area which was running very smoothly and picked it up in no time.In the first 10km I was hopeful I could get near my pb of 2:09 or at least 2:15 but with the heat and the hiils and the end I was happy enough at 2:21.
Overall a great event – especially given they have 3 race distances on offer. The event is well organised, loads of communication beforehand , well supported around the route and plenty of water stations. – and a nice varied route as well.