Bath Half 2016

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Wowsers,  where does the time go?!    It’s over a year since I completed my second Bath Half Marathon, ever since, I’ve been wanting to write a blog about this race because its just such a fantastic experience.

As I started writing this, the 2017 Bath Half was well under way and I always get the familiar pings of “I wish I was there!”.

For anyone who is either a keen runner or just starting out, if you haven’t done this race – you must!   For me, Bath is breathtakingly beautiful anyway, so to run it and see it from another perspective was just fantastic.

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The first time I ran The Bath Half, we were in the middle of moving house, so we literally drove up and back in 1 day!  How crazy is that!?  BUT I loved it all the same and I actually ran a really good time, it was my first PB, perhaps the early mornings are good for me!

My Hubby was incredible, he drove us all the way up and back and supported me on my run, cheering me on like a groupie!   And this is something he always does, I’m so lucky and grateful to have someone so supportive of my ventures.

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The bath route is truly beautiful, and it gives you a real flavour of the city.  With every race I have done so far in a city, I always feel that they go right through the heartbeat of the place you are in.  You are able to take in such wonderful sights, amazing crowds and all the best bits.

There is so much preparation and effort that goes into the Bath Half.  From the PR material, newsletters, goodie bags, the runners village, the medals and the amazing photos you can buy, its a really special event and the whole city gets behind it.

The first time I ran we used the park and ride – such a good top tip!  There are regular services into the city and its a really good hassle free way of getting in.  The second time, we had a bus stop right near our hotel and were able to hop onto a regular service.  If this is your first time running Bath, or especially if this is your first time to Bath, make sure you know how quickly you’ll be able to access the city in good time for the race.  You normally want to give yourself at least an hour to be able to visit the runners village, get yourself zoned in, have a wee and most importantly stretch and soak up the atmosphere.

The runners park is full of tents with useful info, things to collect, lockers, charities, food and drinks stall, registration and loads more.  This is situated next to the start area.  To be honest, even if this is your first time, you’ll be able to follow the crowds and find your way to the starting area!

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As you enter the city and the crowds start gathering, the atmosphere is electric.  There are smiling (and slightly nervous) faces all around, everyone is taking pictures, laughing, stretching and gearing themselves up for the challenge ahead.

Like migrating animals, everyone starts making their way to the main runners village.  There is always such an air of excitement with races and without fail I get butterflies every.single.time!  It’s a combination of hoping you’ll be ok, wondering what time you’ll get, will you get a PB, will you feel strong, the crowd, the roaring cheering, the press, but most of the overwhelming feeling of knowing you are doing something incredible.

Once you become a regular runner, its very easy to get swallowed up into expecting more; wanting faster times, PB after PB, improved fitness, longer distances, better nutrition, feeling stronger, the list goes on.  But at this moment, both the start and the end of a race, I always take myself back to the first time I ran and how this moment makes me feel I have done something very amazing and the fact that its not easy.  I was someone who had high blood pressure at 22 and when my gym instructor said to me, right run for 3 minutes, I looked at him with a perplexed look on my face and said “3 minutes, seriously?”.

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So for all of you who are new to running and you’ll be running your first race,  trust me, you’ll be fine and you’ll find the strength to get through it.  You’ll look back at some points and wonder how you did do it,  but in those moments you feel like giving up, you won’t let yourself do it.  It’s only when I put it into this perspective that I realise how far I’ve come.

It’s amazing how quickly the time goes when you’re nervous!  So soon enough we’re all taking piccies with loved ones and friends when they go off for probably a pint and some cake and us runners make our way to the start line.  Each runner is categorised and you make your way to your designated section dependent on your expected finish time.  This is so not everyone is running to the start line in a stampede and gets the right amount of start line credo.

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This bit always makes my tummy flip!  The waiting area for runners is designated right along Great Pulteney Street, which is absolutely stunning.  It is the widest Georgian boulevard in Europe and is the most beautiful start line.

There is always an air of anticipation and all are eagerly awaiting that 10am start time.   When the runners start moving and you know you’re off, your whole body buzzes with excitement as you cross the start line and draw in the electric atmosphere.

Make sure you soak up every feeling of the start and finish line.  It’s something you will never forget.  Running the route itself its nothing short of phenomenal.  Every part of the route is lined with amazing crowds, volunteers, bands, families, friends and humbling stories everywhere.

A marathon will always be somewhere you feel an over brimming feeling of love.  No matter what the reason for someone making their trainers hit the tarmac, the result is the same – pride, happiness, thought of those they are running for and the most incredible sense of achievement.

What you’ll see along the way:

  • The first mile is downhill down Pulteney Road to Churchill Bridge
  • Two identical laps from Churchill Bridge,
  • Green Park Station
  • Queen Square (the most crowded spot for spectators on the course)
  • Charlotte Street
  • Upper Bristol Road
  • Newbridge Road
  • ‘Twerton Fork’ towards the City centre
  • Lower Bristol Road,
  • Churchill Bridge
  • Green Park again for the beginning of the second lap.
  • At the end of the second lap the runners pass across Churchill Bridge
  • Back up Pulteney Road
  • Finish in Great Pulteney Street.

The course if fairly forgiving (apart from one major hill!) UGH!  Its a great course to get a PB too.  I’m always so blown away with the bands along the route, its such a fantastic motivator and creates a wonderful atmosphere.  As with any race, you’ll feel like you want to give up, this comes in many forms and as weird as it sounds, I find the early part of a race the hardest.  The further I go, and the more my body gets warmed up, the more and more I want to push myself to finish the job.

The finish line is amazing!  The streets are lined with family, friends, loved ones and spectators and you’ll run a flat back along Great Pulteney Street.  Incredible!  Because you can also see the large clock, you’ll want to sprint to the finish line!  I don’t mind admitting that I have cried every time I have finished a competitive race.   It is completely overwhelming and its a mixture of pride, relief and also feeling incredibly humble.

You’ll be guided back towards the runners village, where you’ll proudly collect your medal, have a few proud pictures and pick up a well earned goodie bag with a treat or 3.

So the moral of the story is and as cheesy as it sounds, give yourself credit, remember how far you’ve come and always feel accomplished.  Because not everyone could do it, and if it was easy – everyone would!

My Top Tips:

  • Plan your route into the city centre
  • Tie your timing chips to your laces ahead of time
  • Make sure you write your next of kin and details on the back of your number
  • Take a warm top with you that you would happily throw away, to wear at the start line to keep you warm (there can be a little hanging around)
  • Research restaurants before hand, and know where you want to eat the night before
  • Take food with you that you have been training with.  I didn’t eat the breakfast available at the hotel, I ate what I was used to as I didn’t want to take the risk of something not agreeing with me!
  • Have a wee before you go to the start line, you don’t want to be thinking about wee-ing too early on!
  • Agree a meeting point with family and friends for after the race, as they wont have access to the back of the runners village
  • Enjoy every moment – take it all in

My Bath Half 2015 – 2:21
My Bath Half 2016 – 2:18 – PB

Hope you had an amazing race – well done and congratulations!  You’re incredible!

Debs xx

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