I ended a very busy weekend with Reigate Half Marathon. I have a bit of a soft spot for this event, I find it bloody hard work, but it is just a lovely event to be part of. This is its 4th year, and I have been lucky enough to be part of it 3 times.
2014 I ran it in its inaugural year, I found this event as it is the most local large event to me. In 2015 I was planning to run it again, but a friend got me tickets to the Rugby World Cup, something I couldn’t really pass up. 2016 was my first time pacing Reigate, I loved it and it was one of my early blogs (here).
This year I came back to pace Reigate for the 2nd time. This was the 36th event I have paced, 16th for Xempo and 2nd this weekend.
The event village this year was bigger and better than ever. It really is a great event for friends and family. With a 10k, half and kids race there is something for everyone. The weather was good to us this year too, it started off a little cold, but the rain stayed away.
This year the atmosphere was buzzing even more than normal. So many meet ups, with Breatheunity, Racecheck, The National Running Show and Ukrunchat. So many people around, I hope I managed to talk to you all, but it was just crazy.
I was here to pace, and it was great to have a big team of solid pacers taking part once again for Xempo. As one of the few who has done this event before I gave a few tips about the course. In short, take the first half mile steady as no point pushing the hill as it comes straight back down with a fast descent. Then get some time in the bank ready for the last big hill as you will lose people otherwise as you just won’t keep the same speed.
The start waves were nicely organised and easy to get in place. The pacers were the markers for people to get in place so we ensured we were ready early. Owing to a last minute drop out I ended up pacing the 1:40 #funbus alone, so got in place with my group and took a team photo. I always tell the group it’s so I can see who stuck with me until the end. Those that do are full of smiles. I gave a basic brief about how I would Pace the event, explaining about the first hill, and then I would try to be 5 seconds under each mile to allow for the big hill at the end, so they could stay with me.
As I remembered, after we leave the park you immediately hit a steady incline. I slowed as planned, but to be honest it was a lot shorter than I remembered, and with the fast downhill I completed the first mile slightly ahead of pace. I had a strong group of runners around me, all very vocal, sharing encouragement. I used this moment to build a slight cushion at the start, just 10-15 seconds ahead for the first few miles, all within everyone’s comfort. I thought this would be a good time whilst fresh, it wasn’t a noticeable increase, and then we sat at the correct average pace.
This is a lovely course, it is undulating throughout, but it is manageable. The marshals were all fantastic, very supportive and full of energy. The course had spectators throughout and the locals were all so friendly.
I’m not going to lie, this isn’t the easiest half marathon out there, but it’s full of character. I had an opportunity to pace 4 different events today, and I chose to come and take on probably the hardest course of the 4. Everyone around me did a great job keeping the pace and I kept them up to date each mile providing reassurance. I also warned that the hill would be coming soon, and that we had a 50 second cushion. We had built this cushion in the first 5k then spent the last 8 miles running a consistent 7:37 pace.
You then hit the hill somewhere during mile 12. I knew it was coming, I’m running a comfortable pace, but it’s still bloody hard. To put things in perspective, I struggled up this hill so am happy to slow it down a bit for a mile, this was the whole point of building a cushion. I think I made the right choice as people all struggled up the hill. By going slower myself it gave people more of a chance to stick with me. Those strong on hills pushed on ahead, and just after 12.5 miles we reached the top, where it starts coming back down.
It’s good having a easier final half a mile. It’s funny as people probably thought I was racing off with a drastic increase in speed, but this was just a return of the normal pace. When we came to the home stretch I tried to maintain pace and encourage everyone around me to push ahead. I was pleased that I had many run off ahead, and a few close behind keeping up with me.
I passed Dame Kelly Holmes in the home stretch who was helping a 10k runner across the line. What a way to finish. I absolutely loved this event, one that always keeps me on my toes. With a target time of 1:40 I always want to come under, I never want to come too close and risk finishing over, very happy with 1:39:50. I was greeted with lots of smiles and hugs, with stories of PB’s. It’s always a special feeling when people wait for you to finish to thank you. Thank you all!!!
Who will be joining me next year? I will be back again driving the 1:40 #funbus
For more reviews of this event check out Racecheck.