Bewl Water half marathon race report

Today started off sometime around 5am, mainly due to the cat being an arse, but it was fortuitous that she was as I’d forgotten to put my watch on charge. Schoolboy error #1. So it’s 5am, I’ve just stuck my watch on charge and I don’t really need to be up for another hour yet. Bewl Water is roughly a two hour drive and I don’t really need to be there till about 9.30 as the half doesn’t kick off till 10.00. Snooze time even though I’ve yet to sort out any kit for the run!

I can have a snooze as I’m now doing this one on my own, the girls who were joining me sadly dropped out (did they know something I didn’t?). Back to bed to try and get some more ZZZ’s but the bloody cat is relentlessly attacking my hand, what with the cat attacks and Rochann’s snoring I didn’t stand a chance!  Time for looking at random crap on eBay, when what I should have been doing was reading up on the route, schoolboy error #2.

6am rolls around, I suppose if better get out of bed and clatter around finding something to wear, attempting to make enough noise to wake the household up. Today is a rare day where the rest of the family are going to experience a 7’o’clock on a Saturday that I don’t think they knew existed, that’s right, they’re coming with me! I get my kit together, usual stuff, some shorts, Bosh vest and shirt as it may be overcast, road Hoka’s. Trail Hoka’s. Hydration vest etc etc…

Fast forward we’re in the car as a family and pulling out of the drive at 7.30am! Wonders never cease. Fast forward we’re overtaking a back to the future replica Delorian on a low loader on the M25. Next thing you know two hours have passed and we’re pulling off the A21 and into Bewl Water. I’d done the”dad thing” and bored everyone senseless pointing out things I remembered from my youth… #yawnfest

I hand over £2 for the pleasure of parking there all day and proceed to the destination. Race HQ is easily spotted as the signage is very clear, it’s outside the main reception building and is unmissable. Collecting my number went without a hitch, today Matthew I am going to be runner 137. Number collected it’s time for a quick coffee before the race and to get into the warmth, it’s a good couple of degrees chillier than Portsmouth.

My support crew chief decides it’s best that she has bacon, mushrooms and hash browns  as she’d not been up early enough to have any breakfast before we left. This I find most annoying as I could have easily demolished that as well!! Bacon, delicious bacon. I plump for a nice cup of coffee instead, but the temptation is still there.

So with breakfast eaten and a bit of mucking about with selfies, changing from vest to shirt as its cold and switching from my road shoes to trails, the time has ticked on and it’s time to head down to the start, which is a short 10 minute walk away from the building.

The start is down a small hill next to the reservoir, we get down there with plenty of time to spare so a bit more time to horse about with the camera and take some silly pictures.

It’s all about the bling! Medals medals medals! Hermes Running have come up with these fantastic sparkly fish medals that also double up as a bottle opener. Going to earn it today!

The race is due to start at a very civilised 10am which is really handy as it allowed us to make the two hour drive without having to leave at ungodly hours. All the runners huddle up just behind the timing mats and get prepared for the off. There was a chap there giving some form of pre-race brief via a loudhailer but he was so quiet and the throng of runners so noisy that not one word was heard by this particular runner, more volume next time please. A klaxon however is easy to hear and we’re off, back up the slope we’ve just walked down to get to the start and running alongside the reservoir. Although it’s a bit overcast today the views are stunning. It’s an amazing location.

The course takes us out around the outskirts of the reservoir, in and out of the trees on a firm mud track, this is constantly slightly up and down, very little flat, constantly changing surface with lots to dodge and avoid, constantly watching your footing, it’s great. Running through the woods with bluebells everywhere, sunlight filtering through the trees, reservoir views, bursting out of the trees into the open every so often. It’s a wonderful run. It’s pretty well marked out with purple ribbons hanging from the trees showing the way, there are no mile markers though, probably due to them running a full and an ultra at the same time. Something like 2.5 miles in we hit the first of the aid stations, I stop to grab a water and to thank the guys manning the station and then crack on.
Just before 6 miles I check my pace and I’m going great, running 8:30 miles or under. I start thinking there could be a PB on the cards here as I feel great and I’m really enjoying myself and I can definitely push a bit harder. Then the road section struck, I don’t mind road running and the Hoka’s I chose aren’t a solid trail shoe so no issues with that, what I came unstuck with were the hills that I was completely unprepared for, refer to schoolboy error #2. This section is somewhat hilly, just past 6.5 miles I ground to a halt and had to walk a section to get my breath and get my heart rate down as it’s through the roof. Even though I’ve not had a cigarette in 83 days, not that I’m counting, my breathing can still be problematic, I’m getting there though. There is an aid station at the top of one of these seemingly endless climbs with some lovely ladies dishing out the goodies, I grab another cup of water here and rejoice at leaving the station and straight into a nice long downhill segment. The joy is short lived as another climb hits at 7.5 miles. I really need to do some hill work, what with the South Downs marathon coming up, as that is going to be so much worse!

At around 9 miles we are finally off the road section and heading back around the reservoirs edge. This I like as it’s back to more off road running. I spend the next mile trying to recover fully from the road section and get my pace back down and back on track. This is going well, right up till around 11.5 miles in when there is another short sharp uphill section, this takes the steam right out of me again. I had been doing the usual mental thing of “push, it’s just a parkrun to go”, but this last hill reduced me to walking pace again, hill work and mental fortitude need to be addressed. Once this mole hill was out of the way it was a lovely long run down to the finish line so I could really pick up my pace and push. I tried very hard to catch a guy I’d been leap frogging for the last 6 miles. I was so close to reeling him in, managed to get the gap from a minute or so down to 1 second over the finish line.

My official time was 1:51:53, but I’m not entirely convinced that the distance was correct as my Garmin recorded 12.75 miles rather than 13.1? From what I’ve seen mine isn’t the only one that did this. I don’t really care as I was just pleased to be finished in all honesty. I couldn’t imagine doing another lap on the day let alone two laps like the marathon and ultra-marathon runners were doing. Hats off to them.

The aid stations were well provisioned and the course was well marked out and easy to follow. It’s not a very well supported route, but that’s to be expected with this sort of race. My only real grumble I guess was the total inability for anyone, other than the first row, to hear the race brief at the beginning, so no real grumbles from me, there may have been something interesting said as he did talk for a few minutes, but I’m none the wiser lol. There were quite a few people late to start as well, with it being 5 minutes or so walk away from the race HQ, but that’s down to them, the rest of us made it down there on time.

I really enjoyed the morning out, it was a lovely well organised run around Bewl with lots of reminiscing on the journey up and the journey back. We even paid a visit to my childhood home and a park that I used to go to. I’m so glad that I did this one and I am very happy with my course time, I might well revisit this one next year for the full marathon. I’m looking forward to the official event pictures to see how derpy I look in them.

Thank you Hermes Running for a great day out, see you again.

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2 Responses to Bewl Water half marathon race report

  1. Dave says:

    Well done! I did the full marathon and surprisingly, the 2nd lap wasn’t half so bad, especially once I decided to walk up the hills. In fact, I believe I had a negative split time.

    • PJ says:

      Thanks Dave, thanks for taking the time to read my blog and post some feedback. It was a great course, I’m very tempted to sign up for the full next year.

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