Race Report: Birmingham Half Marathon and Helvellyn Trail Race
The tentacles have continued pounding the pavement/trail for quite some time so I thought i’d put up a couple of reviews of two very different races I’ve entered recently, the Morrisons Birmingham Half Marathon and the Lakeland trails Helveyllyn 15km race.
First up, Victoria and myself eagerly got the train from Manchester to Brum and had a relaxed night with the folks, a hearty pre-race dinner, a couple of Erdinger Alcohol-Freis and then off to the city first thing in the morning. The Square Peg Wetherspoons didn’t know what had hit it as the race masses decended for somewhere to stay warm and to get a bit of caffeine. Even the resident chavs getting an early Carling looked somewhat surprised that their early morning waterhole was chock full of people “wiv numberz stuk on em”.
It was soon time to be shepherded to the start zones. I’d somehow persuaded my sister to do this one so we both went off to our separate zones to limber up for the run ahead. Whilst i’m reasonably familiar with BHam I was mainly focused on keeping my pace up so kind of lost track of where I was. A really great atmosphere and I definitely enjoyed the jazz bands, the thumping raves, the people who’d set up their speakers out side their house and the great cheering support all the way round the route. I even managed to muster up a sprint for the last 200m along Broad Street to try and make it look easy (it wasn’t) but came across the line in 1:36:26 which was just over 5 minutes faster than my last half marathon so I was very pleased. Followed by Guiness, Sunday Lunch, Lager and Pizza (in that order) and it made for a great day.
Post Race Bling
Whilst the big city races are fun, I can’t help preferring smaller events with fantastic views, fresh air, and chunky trainers with grips on them. A wet Saturday in Glenridding and I’m limbering up (hanging around) for the 15km Helveylln trail race. I’d put in quite a bit of training for the Birmingham half marathon, so my plan was to take this one easier with a gentle jog round the Lakes and a handful of golden ales snuck in afterwards. Based on the continuous rain throughout the morning and squelching up to the start line, I began to realise this was going to be tough. The first 3-4km seemed to be a continuous “up”, which exactly matched my heart rate, and for the first time ever I walked in a race. It was a particularly steep section, and most people round me were walking too (excuse alert) but I don’t think I’d have been any faster had I carried on running.
The rest of the race was pretty much a mudbath, ankle deep running through overflowing streams across the paths, muddy bogs, slippy rocks and patches of heavy rain. People were dropping like flies with any slight slip potentially leading to a tumble to the ground. I did manage to stay upright but probably looked like a drunken giraffe on ice several occasions. Any thoughts of taking in the misty views were forgotten as I discovered a major part of trail running is the continuous concentration on foot placement whilst maintaining some kind of pace. It almost gave me brain ache. I came in with some kind of squelching sprint finish over the line in 1:15:42 (82nd out of 256). I learnt a lot about my own ability here and how punishing ascents can be, along with the mental concentration needed to keep things moving.
In an astonishing twist, Victoria actually got me in a photo (previous attempts include my foot only)
The trail map
Should be back to some nasty synth noises or camera mangling soon! 🙂