Birmingham Half Marathon race report

So that was the first ever Birmingham Half Marathon. All told it was pretty good. Here’s a brief report on the day:

It was of course a horrible night weather-wise (not as bad as up in the Lake District of course but thank goodness all the runners there are safe). By the time a group of eight of us got into a shared taxi at 7.40am it was just down to light drizzle and had stopped by the time the race started. I have no doubt that any complaints about the race will be based around the traffic at the start (big queues to park) and the loos (big queues to wee). Neither affected me much but I suspect the former was responsible for the 15 minute delay at the start. The pen system at the start worked well with runners starting according to their predicted finishing time.

The race was off by 9.45am and I have to say that it felt great to run on such wide roads. There was no runner congestion and generally good support all around. The underpasses and flyovers of Perry Barr were on the undulating side and running through the centre of town was fun but the really tricky hills were in Edgbaston. Every corner you turned seemed to be another uphill. The support on these roads was great and the water stations were well placed. Big thanks to Helen Foot who acted as my support crew by having a sickly orange energy gel ready for me at about mile 6.

The last two miles of this course are great. Given how tired my legs were after yesterday’s cross-country efforts I probably didn’t make the most of the two mile ever-so-slightly-downhill section but I gathered a little speed as I came past the large crowds lining Broad Street. An attempted sprint finish didn’t quite come off but I finished 96th in 1hr 27 min 11 sec. That’s a second best time for me at this distance. 

Overall there were about 40 Bournville Harriers running. Four of them were ahead of me with a couple of personal bests being achieved. Full results are online now. Well done to all.

I think the race was a triumph but I’ve no doubt there’ll gripes, especially from runners themselves (not flat enough, not scenic enough, no chocolate in the goody bag – runners can be a miserable bunch). But anyone who got themselves organised enough to arrive early, took in the atmosphere (lots of music along the way as well) and had the right attitude will have come away with a smile on their face as well as a medal around their necks.

By way of an aside yesterday’s cross-country was great as usual, and of course, muddy:

(pics Paul Foot although it must have been his wife Helen as Paul was one of the people stuck up a mountain in the Lake District)

Big weekend for running in Birmingham

Just to remind you that it’s a big running weekend in Birmingham. Tomorrow of course is the inaugural Birmingham Half Marathon. 9000 runners taking in Perry Barr, Newtown, City Centre, Edgbaston, Bearwood (presumably right up to the Sandwell border) and then back to Centenary Square. Given it’s a ‘Race Against Climate Change’ there could have been a few more options other than car to get people to the start. Apparently 75% of the 9000 are from the West Midlands so putting on some early local trains to Perry Barr as well as the shuttle buses from town would help persuade runners to leave their cars behind. As it is I’m car-sharing with some fellow runners. For a top example of running geekiness then check out Oliver from local design firm, ie design, who is using his iphone to allow others to track him though the race. Oh and I just noticed the link to the prize money – look at what I won’t be winning. Forecast is for early rain but clearing – ideal.

Later today is the Birmingham and District Invitation & Midland Women’s Cross Country League. I know, sounds exciting doesn’t it. But it’s about 6 miles of running through muddy fields and muddy streams in Senneley’s Park, south Birmingham. I run in this one for my running club and although I should just focus on one race this weekend I can’t resist a bit of cross-country as a pre-cursor to the longer run on Sunday. 

I’ll do a report on each over the weekend.