Swansea Half Marathon was voted Gold as the best half marathon with more than 5,000 competitors at the running awards 2017. This is not the first time I’ve heard good things about #RunSwansea so I decided I would run the event. Unfortunately I looked a little too late, and accommodation costs ruled it out for me this year, and I wasn’t going to go without my family. If I had ran this year I would have joined the Xempo pacing team, and it looks like they had a cracking time. In fact, I asked two of the pacers if they could guest blog for me, so below I bring you the ramblings from Garry Biddle (2:15 pacer) and Phil Jefferies (2:20 pacer), both happen to be part of Racecheck #visorclub #teamblack
I was very honoured to be asked at short notice to pace the 2:15 slot on Sunday 25th June. As a late replacement I didn’t have to register as the race was closed so I was transferred in as a replacement. Being so close to the event (72 hrs) I didn’t really have time to sort out accommodation so I decided I would drive down on the day. A very early start to the day saw me leaving Milton Keynes at 3.45 to head to Swansea.
On arriving at the event village I headed for the Xempo stand to check in and get my race number (pacer62) my back pack and pacing flag. After meeting all the pacers we had a few customary photos taken
The race was to start in 2 waves; Wave 1 starting at 9am was for up to 2hrs, Wave 2 started at 9.15 for 2hrs+ which was my start time. It started in the town centre and there were large crowds despite the weather gathered in anticipation.
On time we set off and I settled into my pace which was to be 10.15 per mile as we made our way from the Town centre, passing Swansea Castle within the first half mile as we headed out towards Mumbles running on main roads 20/30 metres adjacent to the seafront. The support was very good from the locals and by the time we had reached mile 2 the rain had stopped and the sun came out 😎so I was really pleased I had my @racecheck visor on as I couldn’t wear my customary shades due to the rain!
At the first water station I was glad to see it was in bottles especially as the temperature was rising nicely. I reminded everyone to take plenty of liquids on board. I noted that the first few mile markers were slightly out so I was keeping a close eye on my Garmin as it clicked each mile, and then checking my pace pocket splits as I reached the mile markers to make sure I was still on target. They never changed to be fair so it soon become apparent that I would possibly be running a little longer than expected, so I focused on keeping my pace a few secs faster than normal to compensate but was worried if it changed at the end I would be a little too fast?!
As we made our way to Mumbles I could see the faster runners making their way back along the seafront. When we reached mile 6 we turned around and started to head back towards Swansea on flat purpose built cycle/walkways that ran parallel to the Swansea Bay coastline and fabulous sandy beaches. The views were spectacular for the next 6 miles as we headed for the tall buildings way in the distance.There was a headwind that I could feel on my pace flag, but for me it cooled me slightly in the heat.
There was water & Gels at the next water station and again at the last one with another water station sandwiched in between. As we approached the marina we passed over first Loch bridge and then the Millennium Bridge as we then started to make our way back to the Town centre. The crowds here were bigger as we headed up the only real incline on the route, a “cobbled section” that lasted for only 30 secs until we reached the top then it was back on the main roads to the finish line.
I came over the line in 2:14:41 according to the official results but distance was long at 13.21.
The medal was fantastic as was the fluorescent pink tech T-Shirt. I have to congratulate the organisers for hosting a truly memorable half marathon on a very fast route with stunning scenery along Swansea Bay.
Without doubt it’s one of my most memorable and enjoyable half marathons of the 50+ I’ve run. My Wifey Rose was one of many in my pacing group to enjoy this race and at the finish line I received lots of hugs from people that attained PB’s ☺️which is my main reason that I pace to be able to help others with even splits and motivation/ encouragement. A big thank you to all marshals/volunteers that kindly gave up their time so the event could take place. My very first trip to Wales will be one that I will remember for a very long time – ❤️Swansea. Can’t wait to return for 2018.
I was so happy to be able to take my place upon the pace team for the Swansea Half Marathon, I had been contacted by a couple of runners who I had ran with during the London Marathon in 2017 for the charity I support to ask if I was pacing, as they were keen to run alongside me I the hope that they could set a new PB. So when Xempo confirmed I was allocated the 2hr 20 spot, I couldn’t wait for the day to arrive.
I met up with the team at 7.30am, in steady continuous drizzle, which very quickly became hard continuous rain and got kitted out with out tshirts and flags. The race was split into two waves, the sub 2hr runners setting off at 9.00am and over 2hr runners getting underway at 9.15am, the organisers however wanted us in position for both waves by 08.40 to assist runners to position themselves accordingly.
So, still shivering from the rain, (where had the 35plus degree temps of the previous week gone?), we took up our places and started to meet our pace groups. Luckily I quickly found the Asthma UK runners that asked to run with me, and also a few others who had contacted me during the week on social mediA, and I explained how I was going to run the course at as close to even splits of 10.41secs per mile and we waited for the off. By the time our wave set off, the rain had been replaced with Sunshine and the temperature started to rise, thankfully there were plentiful water stations on the route to keep us all hydrated.
We hit our splits perfectly for the first 3 mile markers, the group all staying intact and happily running around me, I informed them we had, as planned, got a small buffer of 15 secs up on schedule to allow for any course distance differences or unexpected hold ups. The next few mile markers seemed to be slightly out however, and the 10k flag was certainly out but by my watch we hit the half way point still 15 secs up. Checking on my group, a few had fallen back a little, but most were still with me and we turned the corner on the out and back loop and left Mumbles and headed back towards the centre of Swansea. The very scenic and flat course now followed the coast path and afforded some wonderful views across the bay although a few runners remarked that seeing Swansea in the distance, and it never seemingly getting closer, was a bit hard on their confidence, so it was time to step up the encouragement further and gee them up, I let my fellow pacer get a little ahead at one water station, whilst I waited for a few to get a drink and then helped them to ease back up to the main group.
10 miles soon arrived and my usual banter of, “just a parkrun to go” was met with a few laughs, a few groans and a few things I can’t mention, but we put our heads down and pushed to the line, most of the group we started with was still with me and I could tell a large proportion of them were sensing a new PB on the cards!
The final mile, and a couple of bridges to cross before the run through the City Centre and the finish line, a very strong headwind now hit us and a few started to struggle a bit, “come on guy’s we have this in the bag, you can’t give up now” seemed top spur a few into one final effort and we rounded the corner towards the finish line, I could see the inflatable arch ahead and a look at my watch told me I was at 2hr 18, pretty much bang on time, some of the group now pushed ahead and sprinted the final few hundred metres, the others just tracked me in, applauding them all towards the line I crossed in 2hr 19m 41 secs, right as I had hoped to and was straight away shaking hands and hugging new PB holders, Kirstie from Team Asthma smashed her previous best by 2 minutes!
Down the finish funnel and more thank you message followed as we picked up our very impressive medal, lovely pink tee shirt water and goodie bags and then back to pacing HQ to round of the day.
A wonderful experience again today, a superbly organised event, on a lovely closed road flat course, marshalled well and supported well by the locals. But what really made it special for me was knowing that I had helped some runners get that awesome, endorphin filled buzz, of a shiny new PB. Which is why I love to pace.
Fingers crossed I can go back again next year.
It sounds like it was an amazing event, and Phil and Garry certainly had fun. I was sad not to take part this year and did a few miles across the water looking on whilst the event was happening. I certainly aim to join the fun next year.