Lake Vernwy Half Marathon – 9th September
I last did this road race five years ago aiming for a PB but set off too fast and ‘blew up’ at mile 8, hobbling, shuffling and walking the final 5 miles. Too fast, flat and monotonous I told myself and vowed never to do it again!
Then of course it was set as a ‘Club Championship Race’ this year so I felt obliged to have another go and try to put the demons to rest!
Luckily, we started the day as a group effort with Sam, Carol, Kelly, Tori and I travelling together accompanied by a large box of chocolate brownies (courtesy of Tori) and made it with just enough time to spare to queue for that pre-race loo stop.
The race start is a bit of a nightmare as all 1300+ runners are penned in on a narrow road and access is only from the front so I found myself pushing through tightly-packed bodies to get somewhere towards the back so that I didn’t get mown over by faster runners when the siren went. I am sure some runners thought this was the back of the queue and would have got an awful shock when the race began and they realised they were part of the front runners!!
Conscious of the mistakes of the past, I set off at a reasonable speed and took the first mile, which is a gradual incline, quite easily. From mile 2 onwards the road remains flat and winds itself around this large lake. There are the occasionally glimpses of the lake through the numerous trees planted along the lakeside but these are few and far between. Last time, the lack of the view frustrated me, but it was raining quite persistently for some of the race so I was grateful for the tree canopy and just focused on running.
I passed Kerry, Lucy and Carol on the bridge and then Flora, Gary, Sam and Jo T at varying intervals, all seeming to look quite comfortable. I kept pace and chatted much of the time to a Shropshire Shuffler runner (don’t you love that name – I’m a born shuffler, maybe I should change clubs?) who told me she was on for just below 1hr 50 mins so I thought that sounded reasonable so I tagged along. I was sure her timing was off as we seemed to be much quicker than that but it felt manageable so I went with the flow.
About 2-3 miles from the finish the road descends gradually for a while which is quite a relief at this point and then there is the tiniest of ascents a quarter mile from the finish (which felt like climbing a mountain after a virtually flat race) and then the finish looms fairly quickly on the same road as the start. I managed a bit of a sprint and heard my name being announced and was delighted when I saw my time of 1:46:27 as this was much faster than I have done for a couple of years . Combined with a nice medal and a T-shirt this has gone a long way to dispelling my negative image of Lake Vyrnwy Half!!
In total, I counted 14 Croft runners competing. Catching up with some afterwards – Kelly had a brilliant race knocking 5 mins off her PB from last year!! Carol (who like me had previously had a bad experience here) was delighted with her time of just under 2 hours as she is working her way back to form. Tom D and Tori had kept each other company coming in within 20 seconds of each other. Sam was happy to keep a consistent 9 minute mile pace coming in just under her anticipated time. Jo T said she was much slower than last year but she hadn’t had much opportunity to train or cover much distance but still managed well under 2 hours.
I didn’t speak to Lucy or Kerry afterwards but it was their first half-marathon so PBs for both and Lucy managed it in under 2 hours!
Looking at the race results, this is a very fast competitive race with some very good runners. I think it is targeted as a race to obtain a PB so does attract some class despite its (relatively) small size. I did note that Clara Evans, who some of you may know (now Cardiff AC but formally of Hereford Couriers) was first female in 1:17:58 and Stuart Hawkes (Tipton Harriers) in 1:06:44.
Kelly FS 1:33:40
Jo M F50 1:46:27
Ashley M65 1:49:44
Sam F40 1:57:24
Flora F55 1:57:43
Jo T F35 1:57:47
Carol F45 1:59:31
Lucy W 1:59:52
Kerry F35 2:06:25
Gary M70 2:06:36
Tori F50 2:10:20
Tom M65 2:10:40
Rachael FS 2:15:06
Alison D FS 3:14:18