They taught Latin at Gill’s school so she should appreciated the moto on the Barns Green medal – vincit qui patitur – (s)he who endures conquers…………. Well this was half marathon number 9 this year so the moto does seem fitting! And with memories of Canterbury still in our bones we set off from Heathfield with Niki in support this time! Actually the race is a Sussex Grand Prix race so we are wearing our red vests with pride and join the 7 other Heathfield Road Runners at the start line! Once we get there…………… Barns Green is a tiny place near Horsham – West Sussex and there are well over a thousand runners in the half marathon and there is a 10K race too. So our plans to arrive with plenty of time to spare are rather scuppered by the queues to get into the village and the parking. We end up in a field of long wet grass – well driven Gill – I wouldn’t have fancied it! And as always there is a tense walk to get to the portaloos…….. we have not anticipated that length of journey (enough said?). I think it is probably fair to say that we have become somewhat blazé over the last nine months (long enough to have a baby……….) and timing chips are not on our shoes – Gill’s in fact is still in the car – but she is unaware at this stage. The queues for the loos are very long and slow moving and so there is much hopping on one leg whilst my chip is attached. And I shovel in my breakfast (yogurt and malt loaf remember?). And time is really getting on now so my number and four safety pins are produced and with the help of Niki and a very nice man (Gill helpfully taking photos) attached to the red vest. When we finally get to the loos (with about 15 mins to go) you would think our moods would start to improve – but by this stage Gill has remembered the location of her timing chip (that well used swear work **** erupts) and she is off on a mad dash back through the long wet grass. At this stage Niki, wisely, heads off for the start line and I take Gill’s and my bag to the bag drop and look around to find a stall where I can buy some shot blox or something similar (I told you we were getting blazé) – but no such luck (**** – it’s catching). So I head for the start to see Gill flying back (to the portaloos – where she crashes the queue of 10K runners) and she is with me at the start as the siren goes. That was a close one…………..
And we’re off – Gill like a rocket – she well warmed up from her car park dash – and me puffing to keep up. And it is a lovely race! It is hot – and I feel it – but not as hot as Canterbury. And hilly – but actually not too bad. All the roads are closed which makes for comfortable running, the route is very pretty and there is entertainment in the form of various musical offerings along the way. The route takes us through Christ’s Hospital School – a lovely building in spectacular grounds where the pupils all wear the renowned long blue coats, knickerbockers (I kid you not) and yellow socks. Established in London in 1552 to offer education for those of potential irrespective of their ability to pay. It moved to its current location in 1902 and as a charity still offers scholarships up to 100% to able pupils dependent on a means test. Sadly, its famous band is not out playing in the quad today but it is still lovely to run through the school and it’s grounds.
At the water station at 9 miles I take on rather too much water – and regret it (and I suspect the lack of shot blox) almost immediately. There is no way of putting it nicely – so I’ll leave it to your imagination……… That’s never happened before – mental note to self for next week – get some shot blox and just little sips of water! Thanks to Gill for hanging around at a discreet distance! But I quickly recover and we are on our way again.
We are the last 2 Heathfield Road Runners to cross the line but the others have waited to cheer us home – and a team photo to finish the day!
So that’s nine races done and the tenth is the Tonbridge Half Marathon – next week……………. We really must be a little bit bonkers!
As a bit of an aside – I ran my very first half marathon 32 years ago from the village of Whalley, near Clitheroe in Lancashire. My mum was there to watch. I was 26 years old and had never run more that 6 miles………. I wore red shorts and I have lost the medal! But I remember the time – 2 hours and 8 minutes (I was very proud and very sore!!) There followed a 25 year gap before I ran my next half marathon on 22nd September 2010 – the first anniversary of my lovely mum’s death – run in Folkestone with Julie in her memory (she would probably have hated it to be honest but I had to do something). And my time was 2 hours and 8 minutes!! So this weekend’s run was almost exactly 7 years after resuming my racing (sic) career…………….. Since then I have run 20 half marathons, twelve 10k races, three 5k races, one 10 miler, one very silly 24 hour relay race in which I covered around 19 off road miles – through pitch black, migraine, thunderstorm and no sleep, 2 marathons run as a member of a relay team and 2 full marathons! Phew!
Three more halves to go this year. My mum is never far from my mind…………………
Running track for this month has to be Green Day – Wake me up When September Ends – in memory of lost parents.