Stratford half race report from west cheshire member Mike Perchard

Please find the following report from Mike Perchard of West Cheshire regarding the Stratford Half 2012 on Sunday 29th April which has been forwarded by Helsby running club member Geoff Shaw. Although Mike is not a member of Helsby running club it is always interesting to hear and read of other races so if you do know of any interesting reports or articles we will endeavour to include them on the blog where appropriate.

I did the Stratford half today which made the conditions on your 2010 Sandstone trail race seem positively balmy.

As the race was due to start at 9:30, I’d decided to book an overnight stop in Redditch which is only about 30 miles away from Stratford. That was a pity really as otherwise I’d have just not turned up and written off my entry fee. As it was, I got up early and set off for the race. The wind was really strong and there were a couple of trees across roads on the way but I made if for 8:15 so had plenty of time. The temperature was hovering between 4 degrees and 3.5 degrees (it did just make 5 degrees by lunchtime) and the rain was incessant. I had real trouble deciding how much to wear but ultimately went in shorts and my vest on top of a short sleeved tee shirt. I also took my waterproof jacket in a small bag strapped to my wrist but didn’t use it in the end.

The plan had been to run a 1 lap and a 2 lap race (i.e. half and full marathons) but 10 minutes before the start, the organisers announced that, due to the dreadful conditions out on the course, the full marathon was being scrapped. I started off much closer to the back than I realised (couldn’t see where the start was from my position in the masses) so started relatively slowly which didn’t really help warming up.

Once we got out into the country and on the exposed sections of the course, the driving rain stung that much I seriously thought of taking shelter under a tree but if I had, I’d still be there.

The final 3 miles to the finish area were along a cycle way and unfortunately it was straight into a strong headwind. To be fair, it wasn’t driving rain all the way along here. Occasionally, it turned to hail. The cycle way was obviously along a disused railway in a very slight cutting. Unfortunately, that meant all the rain drained onto the track and lots of it was underwater. I passed loads of people here as they were trying to avoid the puddles and running up the bank. I was so wet, I didn’t see the point of pussyfooting around and just went straight down the middle. Once we got to the finish area, the final 100 metres was across grass and my Mudclaws would have come in really useful.

I’m afraid I can’t even tell you what time I did as my Garmin succumbed to the wet and it won’t turn on any more. I charged it up overnight so I know it wasn’t flat. I think I was somewhere between 1:45 and 1:50 but by the time I finished, I didn’t really care that much. My hands were that cold, I couldn’t even unzip the pocket on my shorts to get my car key out so had to ask a stranger for help.

Still, there’s always next year.

Mike

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