The 4th event, the Shakespeare Half Marathon held on 24th April is the event which is closest to my birthday - that being the 26th. A popular event due its reputation within the running community of being the event the ballot rejects enter, is thus popuar as well as offering both the full and the half options. I have in the past done the full (back in 2009), funnily enough actually on my birthday.
The morning was clear, a little chilly with a slight breeze but looking good overall. An easy drive down to the Stratford and parked up very close to the finish area. Sat in the car, keeping out of the chill for about 30mins before changing and then taking the walk to the start area, which was in the middle of the town. The area was busy, 3000 runners and supporters in a tight area. Chaos might be a strong word to describe the start area but it did feel that way. There was no pens or areas for runners to go to with certain target times. A 3.30 marathon runner is running at the same pace as a 1.45 1/2 marathon runner - but nothing.
With the start klaxon sounding, we were off for a quick tour of the town centre. It was during this 1 mile or so that the disorganised start showed, as i passed numerous slower runners and then one had to sit in for a bit, as the roads/route was very tight, before finding a bit of space. Frustrating was the buzz word! However, once out on the country roads, room was more about so moving through the other runners becoming easier and then into the countryside, The marathon route is a double circuit, as well as the Mile 3,4, etc markers, we also saw the mile 16,17, etc - must have been a little strange for the marathon runners to see this.
The route was underlating as it made its way through the Warwickshire countryside and was well marshaled and supported, which made amends for the start and the 1st mile or so. The last section is along a stretch called the 'Greenway' which i think is am old railway line - it was flat hard compact aggregate as we headed back into town, then out again before a hairpin and back again.
The final 1/2 mile or so was running along the River Avon, then we could see the Shakespear theatre on the other side and into the finishing area.
A time of 1.45.57 was really pleasing, a bit quicker than I was expecting/hoping - but the course was tricky, so the time was very pleasing.
So, the 4th event is done and the next 1 is only 2 weeks away in Chester. This one will be steady as I am running with a friend - who is aiming for a 2hr time - so I can treat it as a good long run, before the Ramathon in early June.