Stewart Boulton reports
As we all know, Leicestershire is the greatest county in Britain, this is an undisputed, iron-clad fact that you could put your mortgage on – unlike my Half Marathon times which in the last year have been a little unpredictable! From the highs of the Hinckley Half to the lows of the Stratford Half, my times have been somewhat varied during the last 10 months. However, I can say that the Belvoir Half Marathon was once again unpredictable, but this time, for all the right reasons.
Being a lucky so-and-so, I will be running the Flora London Marathon on April 13th and when I heard there was a Half Marathon in Leicestershire 2 weeks before the big day, it sounded perfect. An ideal distance, in my favourite county, just at the right time, surely a dream race, so I entered swiftly and waited for this pre-marathon appetiser…
On the day I made my way to a remote village called “Hose” and parked up in a water-logged field close to their Village Hall (admittedly after a few wrong turns!). Their local Hall provided all the necessary amenities required for hosting a race and the whole event was well organised (and marshalled) from start to finish; including baggage claim, showers, refreshments and a smart “hold-all” style bag as a free race gift.
The start was my least favourite part of the race, the first few hundred yards was running through the muddy field we had just parked in, as we all splattered our way in between lines of parked vehicles making our way to a gate at the opposite end. Once we were past the gate the rest of the course was a pleasure. Thirteen glorious miles of quiet, rural village lanes in the heart of Leicestershire, often undulating but with no killer hills lurking. Water stations were also regular, well positioned and well manned throughout.
I initially started off close to my Marathon pace (8.5 minute miling) but felt uncomfortable with the congestion that surrounded me so I decided to speed up for the next few miles until I was in my own space. By the mid-way point I was feeling great and that’s when I decided to give it ‘more’ and run the second-half at an increased pace. By Mile 9, I took an energy gel and knew that a Sub 100 minute HM was still on the cards. An achievement I have only ever managed once before.
In the last 2 miles of the race I found myself overtaking dozens of runners and realised that my finish to the race was strong and decided to push for the best time possible considering I got off to a steady start. As I returned back to the Village Hall, I crossed the finish line in a time of 1h 37m 48s, a new PB, although that was never my intention when I started the race. I was delighted with this unexpected bonus and once again, Leicester had brought the best out of me, but hey, what’s new!