Everything leading up to the Cambridge Half Marathon was so fun I forgot I was actually running a race until the night before when Alex texted me, “Good Luck!”
Oh yeah, a race.
I ran the Cambridge Half Marathon a few years ago during a speedy spring trying to get my HM PB under 1:50 and came as close as ever at that race. I loved the route, the people cheering, and the post race beers. When a few of my friends were keen to run again this year I signed up for the registration notification email right away.
The race first offers registration to people with a Cambridgeshire post code. This is awesome as the race still retains it’s local feel while being a pretty big event. If there are any spaces left after Cambridgeshire has a go, then it’s opened up to people on the race mailing list with a unique registration link. If there are any places left after that (this year it sold out at this stage) it goes to the rest of the public. Even with the increased numbers this year due to a 1-loop course it still sold out before public sale.
Luckily my friends are as fast with registrations as their legs and we all got a bib and started planning pre-race meals and post-race pubs.
After a filling Turkish meal (these were just the starters) on Saturday night we were up early to catch an early train to Cambridge.
The train took about an hour from London and previous passengers were even nice enough to leave their post-pub McDonalds meal out for us. With a carefully planned train toilet wee-strategy we got to Cambridge sufficiently fed and hydrated.
The race village was easy to navigate and had well organised bag drop and lots of toilets. There were the normal *endless* queues about 30 minutes before the race start, but we waited until 5 minutes to go and walked right into a very clean and well stocked portaloo.
A quick warmup jog to our start pens where I found re-found Laura. We both started quite close to the start line and within a few seconds of the horn were on the course.
The new 1-lap course followed the same start as previous years, weaving through the centre of town and then out of Cambridge towards Granchester. Running through Granchester was lovely and then out towards the countryside and up and over “the hill” for some pretty spectacular views over Cambridgeshire. I grabbed a gel from one of the water stands and while trying to sip it slowly got it all over my hand, but luckily there were lots of nice kids on the side of the road offering water between aid stations, so cleaned my hands off there and grabbed a jellybaby for the road.
Running back into Cambridge was really nice and the lift from the crowds cheering was great. It’s hard to run slow in Cambridge. I was intending to use this as my long run with 8-10 miles of marathon pace in it. But mile after mile ticked off around 9:00 so I kept checking in with my effort and as long as it wasn’t too high kept going. With 3 more miles to go after running through the city (it would be a great 10 mile race) there was still a lot of running to do. Rather than going in/out/up/down/around Midsummer’s Common to get to the finish, this year it was a straight 500m run towards the arch.
The medals and goodybags were handed out another 500m from the finish (I usually like when they give you medals at the finish line but understand the congestion concerns). And bags were swiftly collected from the world’s most organised baggage collection team (Shout out to those working the numbers 1-699ish line).
With our excellent cheering support team we found a warm pub for food and drinks and spent a good few hours in the Maypole talking about PBs and park and rides. All in all a great weekend with more good memories than just the giant medal.
Our tired legs got us back to the train station and back home in time for a some late Sunday afternoon legs up the wall before dinner, a bath, and then bed.
Thank you to everyone involved in the Cambridge Half, the city of Cambridge. and even the British Transport Police (!!) for a great day out. I’ll be back.
— BTP Stevenage (@BTPStevenage) February 28, 2016