Monday, 14 March 2016

Event Review : Surrey Half Marathon 2016

Another weekend, another half marathon! Or so it seems at the moment. This time it was the Surrey Half Marathon, an event I first ran back in 2014 but that I was tackling this time as a pacer for Race Pacing and Xempo. Some things haven't changed; it was still easy to park, there was a buff in the race pack, music on the course, plenty of spectators, bottles of water at the aid stations and a hefty medal at the end. But plenty was different, not least the course and the weather!

A chilly, overcast, 4 degrees sort of morning hung over me as I scoffed mocha overnight oats in the car which I'd parked a 5 minute walk from the race village. Upon arrival, I found the Xempo tent, collected my race pack, met my fellow 2h20 pacer (who I happened to know from Farnham Runners back in the day) and generally prepared myself for the race ahead.
A forest of flags
There were plenty of familiar faces at the start, a few greetings from people who knew of me as a pacer and lots of good lucks exchanged in the start area. A controlled and steady start saw us underway in good time and we soon settled into the pace I would try to maintain for 2 hours and 20 minutes. It was good to be on the move, warming up slightly but glad I'd worn a base layer under my t-shirt. The first few miles were quite uneventful, save for a band and a water station (no gels this year). We met a few undulations and before long we were heading into a long section where the faster runners were returning in the other direction. I tried to shout encouraging words to those on the other side of the course, waving at friends Nic and Hayley as they shot past. My group seemed in good spirits and I was really enjoying myself.
Somewhere around mile 5
There wasn't as much distance between my fellow pacer and I on this occasion, which I was thankful for as it meant that when mile markers started appearing much earlier or later than expected, we could check with each other that we were still on track. One of the latter markers was almost a full quarter mile out by my watch - this makes for very nervous pacers!!
Photo thanks to Stefan Klincewicz - mile 7
The uphills started to seem more uphill but where there is up there is also down, thankfully. The sun burnt through the clouds, I'd managed to shout and wave at my housemate and her friend who were doing their first half marathon (Anita on a sprained ankle), a brass band were playing Get Lucky, and all was right with the world. We cruised in to the finish with 2:19 on my watch and with a couple of new PBs to boot. Water, banana and Battle Oats in hand, medal weighing me down and rubbing against the already sore patches of skin on my neck from the backpack used to carry the flag, I went back to the Xempo stand to report back and collect my belongings, congratulating finishers as I went.

Pacing left me with a fuzzy feeling inside. It buoyed me, to know I can run steady, to know I have far more in my legs than the pace I ran and to have helped others achieve their goals. Another successful race, and one I would allow myself to be talked into again. I've no more pacing events in the diary for the time being but I really hope I get the chance to do it again because I've had such fun.

Did you run the Surrey Half? What was your experience? Did pacers help you at any other events over the weekend?

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