I had been looking forward to this race for a long time. The first event for 2017. What was to make this event extra special was the fact that I would be pacing again for Xempo. Today marked the 13th time I have paced for Xempo, and my 22nd time pacing races?
This was however the first time I have ran Watford Half Marathon. This is a good location for me to be able to stay at the inlaws with family, and a relatively short journey to the start line. With a 10:30 start it is much later and easier to get to than many events. This event is a local event organised by the Watford Harriers. I was unsure what to expect when I got to the start, knowing it would be a smaller scale event, but with 2,000 runners expected still.
As always I arrived nice and early to meet at the Xempo tent. My number one supporters, that is wife and two young children, came with me as they often do. We parked in the town centre, and it was easy to find ample parking. After a short walk we got to the park, and I immediately thought that the start was going to be a bit messy. Owing to the limited space it had been split into two starts which would meet up after a few hundred metres. What I thought would cause problems is that you start running in the direction you come to get to the start, leaving potential for people to get in the way.
Once at the Xempo tent I had time for a toilet stop, which wasn’t too bad as far as these things go. I then met up with a few people from various running forums before the start. After a short time it was time to start, and we had been asked to split up between the pens. What I found interesting was the start was split so women and vet men were one side, and men the other, but I guess this worked out in terms of numbers. As expected there were a few issues getting people out of the way before the start, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. The race started on time, and within seconds we were across the start line.
The race itself was really nice. It is known as being particularly hilly, but I’ve certainly seen worse. What was good about this event is that although there were some large steep hills, there were lots of long steady declines, which more than made up for the inclines. This is a tough course, but that is part of the enjoyment, and the scenery in places was beautiful. This race did however lack in crowd support, but it wasn’t too noticeable because there were lots of marshals all around the course. So although it was quiet, there were people throughout the course.
The course did take us through a lot of narrow sections, which I didn’t find too bad, but I can imagine it might have been worse the further back you went. There were also a lot of hazards such as potholes, everywhere.
I was running with a really good group of people, so it wasn’t that obvious you were running a small, quiet event. It was really good that many of the people who started with me either finished with me, or waited for me at the end to say thank you. This was particularly good considering it was a challenging course.
The mile markers were consistent, but seemed to appear a little early, so I made sure we were slightly ahead to make sure we came under the target time of 1:40. All my splits were within a few seconds of each other, and happy considering the hills, and some bottlenecks. Whilst approaching the final few miles a few locals said to keep some in the bank for the final mile because it was a long uphill and likely to lose people. With that in mind I increased the pace by 10 seconds for miles 11 and 12, so we had a bigger cushion for mile 13. This worked out perfectly as I didn’t lose anyone and still had 30 seconds to spare as I crossed the finish… perfect.
At the finish it was a little basic. We were all given a medal, which was nice, but not as grand as many events. A simple drifit top with Watford Harriers logo on, was included, and this was a nice touch. But that was it in terms of goody bag. What I found a little disappointing was that water was in cups throughout the event, and then again at the end. It’s a simple thing, but a bottle of water at the end would have gone a long way in my books.
Overall I really enjoyed the event. It does not have a lot of thrills, but it also doesn’t have anything major wrong with it. It’s friendly, you get a medal and tshirt, it’s not expensive to enter and it was a nice challenging course. I think if they wanted to increase numbers they would run into problems if they didn’t look at the start and route.
Target time 1:40, actual time 1:39:26, lots of happy runners. I like running with Xempo for the motivation to get my next colour top, check out what colour you are eligible for at:
For more reviews on Watford Half Marathon check out Racecheck:
As always I get rewarded for every run I do with Fitness Rewards. Find out how:
This year I have a few targets to stay motivated. I want to break 1000 miles in a year #run1000miles and I have entered a challenge to run/cycle the distance of “route66” with @myvmission
I have put in a 40 mile week and knowing what I have coming up I’m feeling really confident I will meet the target (although I’m a little behind at the moment).