Burnham Beeches Half Marathon, 22 August

Report from Peter Simpson:

I first ran this event back in the mid-80s (held in the countryside near Slough), in my early days and have been attracted to it ever since, either as a participant or supporter (of VC&AC / VRUK members). Last year I was entered but public transport stopped me from getting there, no such problems this time. Took the long but easier route via London requiring a short cycle ride across London and another 25 mins from Slough station. Soon met up with VC&AC members before the start.

The event this year included the British Masters (Vets) Champs so there were additional faster runners entered, identified by their age-group on the rear of their vest. It was humid but mainly overcast after the early morning rain. After my recent surprising faster time at the Wycombe half, I lined up nearer the front.

Went off at a fair pace but mindful that the course is undulating with the steepest climbs in the last two miles of each of 2 laps. Surprisingly I was feeling a little sluggish or was I going too fast? I do not wear a watch these days. Anyhow I did not want to slow down. There seem to be more very long and slow climbs in the first half of each lap before a long descent and straight stretch to mile 11 marker. After the tiring climbs leading up to the start of the 2nd lap, it was a relief to have a slow descent after halfway.

It was then a struggle for the rest of 2nd lap but did not seem to be losing places until after mile 11. As I started to climb each hill I decided to take it easier but it still seemed punishing and the recovery after each hill was slow. [Last time I ran in 2008, I had a longer cycle ride and was noticably more tired at the start but finished well to record a surprising 1:36.] At this point I thought I may be slower this time as I was definitely slowing down with many runners passing.

After the last hill it was a little easier approaching the school for a lap around the sports fields. I seemed to find some extra energy to push round the field. The clock when first in sight was only 1:32 which was amazing and I crossed the line in about 1:33:15, approaching 2 minutes faster than at Wycombe. My best this year on a tougher course.

I was desperate for the loo but could only walk slowly there and similarly to collect my bag. There was very little refreshment at the finish apart from water and apparently a little mars bar that I did not see or was offered (would not accept as a vegan). Luckily I had my own energy bar which seemed to help me recover quickly.

Decided to cycle back onto the course and into the Beeches Nature Reserve where I found the cafe. Wearing the VC&AC cycle kit was useful publicity. Went for a tour of the area including the Dorney Rowing Lake where running events take place. Must have covered another 15 miles by the time I arrived back in Slough station for the journey back including the cycle across London.