Bedford Half Marathon 14th December 2008 Laurence Klein
A couple of days before this event two weather websites were telling me that there was a good chance of snow on the morning of the 14th. On the day before the race, the weather in my part of the world, which is not too far from Bedford, was appalling. The strong wind was blowing icy rain sideways and it didn’t stop all day. All it needed was for the temperature to drop a degree or two overnight and it’d be a blizzard. Especially after the Luton cancellation the week before I was fully expecting to wake to snow and have a morning in bed.
But there was no snow. In fact, as I stood on the start line I realised I’d got it a bit wrong. Although the car park (a field) was so muddy that a Land Rover had to be towed out by a tractor, the day was still, dry and relatively mild. And I was wearing three layers. Working on the principle of always trying something new on race day, I’d never worn three layers to run in before, but I was expecting freezing conditions. And then the middle of my three below-the-waist layers nearly ended my race in the first few hundred yards.
All three of these layers had cords which tied at the waist and as soon as I started running I realised something was amiss. I could feel some slippage going on. I glanced down. If Nora Batty wore running tights, even they wouldn’t look as bad as mine, and it was getting worse. It was a crowded start and there was no way I could stop or even pull over to the side, but as my stride became more and more penguin-like I stuck my hand down inside my top layer and started rummaging and hoicking. There was no way I could secure three pairs of cords while running, even at my pace, so establishing that the outer layer was secure I pulled the inner layers over the top and folded them over. This of course is the reason why I missed my target of under two hours. Nothing to do with lack of ability backed up by inadequate training.
The course profile explains the race. The first couple of miles are flat and then you start the steady climb which hardly relents till mile 9. Then it’s pretty much downhill all the way except for a short sharp rise leading up to the finish. Though it’s called the Bedford half, it starts and finishes outside the town and the course goes through pleasant countryside, if winter landscapes are your thing, and mostly quiet rural roads, all on good hard, solid ground.
Keeping warm in the school hall before the race, looking for friendly faces, a woman came up to me asking about VRUK and the website (as she was a vegan runner though a member of another club). Tip for the lads: Vegan Runners vest = babe magnet. So if you’re reading this, woman-I-spoke-to, hope to see you running at a race soon in VRUK colours.
Unfortunately I missed both Colin Braybrook and Frances Humphries who were both in this race (see results), but Colin would’ve been showered and changed and at his mother’s 80th birthday party (congrats Mrs B!) before I staggered across the line.
There was a very decent sweatshirt included in the price which meant that presumably the entry fee couldn’t stretch to anything more than icy water at the finish. I do enjoy a substantial post-race goody bag in childish, Christmassy sort of way, even if I have to pass half of it on to my non-vegan friends.
By the time I got back to the car park after the race, the field was more liquid than solid and the post-race entertainment had begun. The tractor was very busy.