Date: 4 November 2017
The previous time we did this half marathon (in 2011), the event started at the swimming pool and ran out of town in more or less the opposite direction than the current event before you turned around and ran back the same way. It was, still is, a lovely, small town, out-in-the-country-type event on an out-and-back course.
Leaving Palmy for the 35-minute drive to Feilding, we were pleased that the weather was playing along. It wasn’t too cold, although a cool nor-westerly of 21km/h was a bit of a nuisance. We arrived just in time to register ($50 for the half marathon) and catch up with some friends before race briefing and the start of the event. This was meant to be our weekend long-run, and would also be our longest week in ages, totaling 64km.
We started off on a faster-than-planned pace, but felt comfortable, so we just kept going. At 3.2km, we passed the first water point, which was on the other side of the road. After I grabbed a cup of water, I suddenly felt uncertain/bad as I thought it was probably only to be used on the way back. Being an out-and-back course meant the same water points on the way out doubled up as the water points on the way back. Although there were only two water points, we thus actually had four (at 3.2km, 8.6km, 12.4km and 17.8km). But, having said that, the water at the second/third water point was literally just a sip (less than a third of a cup). And with the heat and humidity on the day, this was not nearly enough. I should have read the race details beforehand, (which I didn’t – my bad) so was unaware that you would have been better off carrying your own hydration pack to supplement what was on offer. Luckily, I always carry a bag of jelly sweets with me to keep the sugar levels intact.
We were going well without many aches or pains, at a comfortable pace. With the marathoners starting an hour and a half before us, we got to see the front runners as they came speeding back at about the 8km mark. The half marathon front runners had all passed us from the front by then. After the turn-around point, we started catching up with some runners as we, by hook or by crook, managed a negative split overall. Okay, all right, 30 seconds faster over the second half hardly counts as a negative split :-D. So, let’s just say we kept an even pace throughout. But, with most people going slower in the second half, we managed to pass quite a few.
And then we got lost. Don’t ask me how. Actually, it is not that difficult if you don’t know a town well, if you haven’t studied the map and if there’s no signage to indicate which road to take in the event of a fork in the road. Yes, it is an out-and-back course, but have you ever noticed how your usual trot around the block in the opposite direction looks so different that it may as well be a new course altogether. So we had to stop and ask for directions. Luckily the runner behind us was a local lad and knew the way, so we were on course again in no time. As it turned out, chatting to others after the event, we were not the only participants trotting down the wrong road!
This was the 63rd running of the Feilding Marathon (organised by the Feilding Moa Harrier Club), the oldest in the country. It was the 21st running of the half marathon and to commemorate this achievement, all Roy Lamberton Memorial half marathon finishers received a medal. Sorry marathoners, you only get a beer, banana and the slice of orange. 🙂
With prize-giving more than three hours away, Gerry and I opted to go out for some salad, chips and a beer/bubbly. By the time we got back to the sports grounds, the hall was packed and proceedings were under way. Both Gerry and I received a spot-prize (a pair of socks and a frying pan), which was great.
It is a lovely event and well worth supporting. Next time I will bring additional hydration and make sure to familiarise myself with the course. With the roads all open, and fairly busy, just a word of caution to be mindful of the traffic. There are some maniacs out there. Oh, and to put a positive spin on the lack of water, being a bit dehydrated worked in my favour as there are no toilets on the course – always a bit more tricky for us girls to find a decent spot.
With thanks to Rob Dabb, the Feilding Moa Harrier Club and all the sponsors and volunteers who help make these events happen.