Robin Hood Half & Full Marathon, 13 Sept

My training in August and leading up to the event was rather patchy so would have been content with a time around 1.37 that I achieved in 2007. On penultimate day before the event I did spend a lot of time walking rather than taking local buses and was feeling tired on arrival at my hotel in Nottingham, close to Trent Bridge cricket ground and 10 minutes from the venue near the river Trent.

On the eve before the races, many of us including VC&AC members, family and training colleagues met up at the small Alley Cafe, a well known vegan cafe-bar in the city centre. [Vanessa Hudson reminded us of her visit to the South American continent for the International Vegan Festival in Brazil and wearing her VRUK vest, attracted a lot of attention and was asked to give a brief introduction to VRUK at one of the meetings.]

Most of the veg*n runners managed to make it for a pre-race photo-call as can be seen. With a huge field of over 10,000 expected it took time to reach my lining up point and I noted that there was not much distance between the 1:30 & 1:40 markers. I was lucky to find again the two VC&AC members in the marathon so hopefully only running the half marathon I would stay ahead of them.

Inspite of starting at a good pace, a significant number of runners overtook me. We tackled the first of several undulations or some would say hills as we approached the Castle near the City Centre. In the University grounds and Wollation Park, I seemed to recover quickly from the climbs and we also had a section of trail running. Knowing the last few miles were likely to be flat gave me the confidence to push on and see if I could lower my most recent time in Milton Keynes of 1.34. Although the wind was increasing from a northerly direction we seemed to be sheltered by the buildings and due to the general east-west course.

Climbing out of the university, a wheelchair athlete was struggling up the hill and over a ramp and received brief help from a thoughtful runner. Although we passed him with ease, not far ahead on the next downhill, he sped past all of us until the next climb. Approaching the city centre before turning right towards the Trent indicated to me that the bulk of the race was behind me. By now I was overtaking more runners than were passing me. I could not tell from the rear of runners if they were half or full marathon runners until we approached the Recreation Ground for the final finishing straight. The crowds began to build up and Vanessa was taking pictures with less than 300 metres to go. Entering the straight on grass I could see the ‘gun time’ clock at about 1.33.30 so pushed on to get just under 1.34 and 1.33.27 chip time.

With two stands overlooking the finishing straight it was an ideal place to recover whilst waiting for our marathon runners and seeing the remainder of the half marathon runners. Our other half marathon runner, Clare Coombs also a local club runner was expecting a good time and achieving 1.41 did not disappoint apart from not seeing Clare at the end, not surprising given the crowds. Mick Morgan’s wife soon joined me, Mick had apparently passed halfway in not much more than 1.30 so his wife was confident that he was about to significantly lower his personal best. In the end it was about 2 minutes inspite of the windy conditions on the exposed stretches of the 2nd half. Keith Hammond as anticipated was the first veg*n home in 3.14. Anna Finn (4.08) was once again looking fresh and looked like it was just another day’s work in the office! In his first marathon, after missing training due to illness, James Millington achieved a satisfactory 4.36.

After time for recovery, a few of us visited the oldest pub in Britain, if correct, near the City Centre.