"} Get a life, Get active! By Fit Lesley: July 2009

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Challenge 41 - Southport Half Marathon

On Sunday 6th July 2014 I ran in The Southport Half Marathon.

After running the Southport Mad Dog 10K in February in awful weather conditions I decided to chance my luck and return to Southport to do another run and hopefully enjoy some better weather conditions during the Half Marathon!

The race was a 9am start but the roads around the area were closing at 8.30am so we planned on arriving at around 8:15am to get parked before the roads closed!

I set my alarm for 6:15am and woke disappointed to discover that I was still suffering with a streaming nose which I had had for about a week or so! However, I was delighted to see blue sky and fluffy white clouds when I opened the curtains!

I had porridge and coffee for breakfast before I set off to travel the 10 miles to my friend Julia's house, who was driving the remaining 50 mile leg of the journey!

We arrived in Southport in plenty of time but by the time we queued to park, and made our way to the starting area in Victoria Park it was around 8:40am!

With only 20 mins to go before race time we headed to the porto loos and were dismayed to find a long queue!  There was no way we were going get to the front of the queue and then to the start line in the 20 minutes we had!  However, after queueing for a few minutes a very kind girl came over and told us there was a block of toilets just around the corner.  We dashed over to where she had indicated and there was in fact a block of probably 20 toilets which were empty!  I think a sign next to the porto loo's advising about these additional toilets would have been useful for non-locals!

Anyhow, Once we had used the facilities we meandered over to the start line and prepared ourselves for the task ahead!

The heat of the sun was just beginning to break through and I knew it was going be a hot one and any thoughts of getting a PB started to evaporate from my mind despite the race being dubbed as "fast and flat with huge PB potential!"

At around 8:50am the race commentator announced we were to make our way to the start line.  Despite this being a chip timed event there were no starting waves so I positioned myself in the middle of the pack and hoped for the best!

I said "good luck" and "see you later" to Julia and without any further ado or even a countdown the starting pistol had fired and we were off!

The first part of the race was on the narrow paths going through Victoria Park which were very congested! This made running initially very tricky! I would say it took the first mile before the field thinned out and many people were becoming impatient and cutting across the grass to get past the crowds.

Once out the park we headed along the coastal road where it was exceptionally hot and sunny with absolutely no opportunity to seek shade!  I was delighted to see the first water station (thankfully serving bottled water) at around 3 miles as I was well and truly ready for a drink by this stage! 

This section of the route was a "there and back" section on closed roads! Even before I reached the 3 mile marker the first of the runners were on their way back which always makes me feel like a tortoise and doesn't do my confidence any good! 

The turnaround point came at around the 4 mile mark and it was time to head back down the hot, long, flat but exceedingly boring road!  I found this part of the race mentally challenging rather than physically!  

It was very hot, all the scenery looked the same and having to squint in the sun didn't really help matters either!  Seeing people still on the outward section whilst I was coming back gave me a slight boost!

Once we had returned into town we ran along the promenade and then around the Marine Lake before heading back towards Victoria Park and the finish line!  

There was a lot of spectator support during some sections of the race  (none at all along the endless coastal road!) but there was a great crowd and atmosphere at the finish line which helped boost me a little. 

On entering Victoria Park I thought I had made it!  

southport-half-marathon-6th-july-2014-20140706_104535.jpgI was too hot to be bothered about my time I just wanted to get past the finish line!  I could see the big black finishing arch not far away as I entered the park and nearly cried when I realised the course actually lapped around the park before coming back to the finish! 

Just when I thought it was all over ... it wasn't!  

During this last section of the race I was perturbed to see numerous runners collapsing and needing medical attention obviously due to heat exhaustion and dehydration!

I had to really dig deep at this point - I was very tempted just to walk!  However, a slow shuffle got me around the park and over the finish line!

Just as I was staggering over the line the race commentator called me back for a interview! 

He had see the back of my vest "Run now, wine later" and wanted to draw the crowds attention to it which was slightly embarrassing!

At the finish I was rewarded with a medal, a great T Shirt, a recovery yogurt drink (which I wasn't keen on) and a goody bag which was full of promotional leaflets!

Despite the intense heat I was pleased that I had still managed a sub 2 hour time and I had finished in 1:59:21.  Not a PB but a time I was pleased with considering the intense heat and my hay fever!


One bloke thought I had embraced the whole barefoot running lark and asked how my feet were!  I didn't like to admit that I had only taken my trainers off after I had finished because my feet were hot and swollen!

All in all it was a good race and there was plenty of bottled water stations at every 3 miles which was much appreciated!  All the marshals were friendly and encouraging! There was one lady marshal towards mile 11 who was exceptionally encouraging shouting motivating things to everyone! 

I am glad I did the race and I enjoyed it, but it's one of the races that goes in the category: 

"Ran the race, got the T. Shirt, won't be doing it again!"

I was delighted to see from the results that I was 12th overall in my category!

You can view my race and the route here.