Three separate races – 5K, 10k & half marathon -were combined to create a spectacular event involving nearly 1100 runners. It was a great day, carnival atmosphere, lots of spectators & supporters, all of whom raised £50K for the wonderful work of St Michaels Hospice caring for terminally-ill patients.
Pre-race registration was remarkably swift & efficient and some people were even entering on the day, but the 10k was sold out in advance. However, the queues for the loos nearly overwhelmed Leisure Centre facilities, especially for the ladies.
The half marathon began at 10.10 AM, followed by the 5K start; the 10k race having started 10 min earlier on the south side of the racecourse. After about 100m the route joined Grandstand Road. We then crossed Three Elms road & ran up the slip road to turn left onto the Roman Road. At the Credenhill roundabout, we turned left, then left again at Wyevale onto Kings Acre road. At that point we were cooled by a welcome light rain shower. We turned left at picturesque Huntingdon Road, well known to Hereford Duathlon competitors, which took us back to cross Three Elms road again and returned via Grandstand Road to the racecourse. The conditions underfoot for the last 400 m on the racecourse were energy-sapping, but afforded a spectacular view for the many spectators.
Jasper & I seemed to be the only Croft Ambrey runners in this race (the chip results service was not reliable) and. several took part in the half marathon. The winner was Adam Bull from Aberdare in a new course record of 32.57, with Jonathan Barnes of Cheltenham Harriers 2nd in 34.39. Jasper finished 26th in a PB of 43.22, I finished 41st in 45.32, comfortably winning the MV 65 category, although the system originally awarded it to someone else. Fortunately, the unflappable Paddy Nugent on the microphone recognised the mistake (with my help!) immediately after announcing it. The MV 60 award was won by 63-year-old Neil Lloyd from Parc Bryn Bach, who came 14th in a mere 39.56, pretty fast!
The threatened heat wave didn’t quite materialise, but it was pretty warm, especially for the half marathon. The conditions were too much for David Holden of Hereford who succumbed just 400 m from the end of what would have been his half marathon PB, but he eventually recovered with the aid of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade.
Special mention must be made of Hereford Ghost Runners, who provided not only volunteers at the water stations, but also the four runners accompanying the two wheelchair 10k athletes.
The event was excellently organised and has much to commend it. Race director Matt Ashcroft is already planning improvements for next year. Also, they are planning to put on an off-road XC Duathlon at Croft Castle on 16 October 2016. Oh yes, I like the sound of that one!