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Running Chichester Half Marathon

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Chichester half marathon 25 September 2022 9am start

This was my first half marathon on a Sunday. A 9am start and I again made the mistake of getting there too early, this time as the race bib number and chip had not been sent to me in advance as originally stated. After I enquired I received an e mail “We have very recently made the decision for competitors to collect their race packs on the day. With lower numbers this year we need to keep event costs as low as possible to ensure that the race can take place. Your Race Bib and chip will be available for collection from the Race Desk on the day of the event. Collection can be made from 7.15am and the Desk will be open until 8.30am. We encourage runners to pick up their packs as early as is convenient so that you have all that you need well in advance of the 9.00am start.”

There was also some confusion as to the amount and availability of car parking at the University car park near the start.  To clarify, there was plenty of parking which was free of charge for runners on the day, despite signage indicating payment was required, even on a Sunday. After collecting my race number and chip, I returned to my car as it was a cold start to the day. Even at 7.45am the queue for the toilets was quite long and growing.  Whilst sitting in my car killing time, a car parked behind me and bumped into my car – not a great start. The driver was very apologetic and thankfully no damage was done.

At 8.30am I headed off towards the growing crowd of runners and stood in the only small patch of sunshine there was and had a stretch in the company of like-minded individuals. As I found during the Thorney Island half-marathon, none of the runners appeared to want to talk to each other so I gave up trying to have a chat.

Just before 9am we a-gathered at the start and had the briefing and then shuffled through the start gate into Chichester town centre. Just as I started disaster struck, I dropped my water bottle! Whilst trying to retrieve it in the stampede of runners, my headphones came off and my water bottle was kicked further away. Nevertheless, a runner shielded me and I was able to retrieve it and start running. I decide after that close call I would run on the pavement for 1km and leave the road to everyone else until it thinned out a bit.  During this time I saw an elderly lady crossing the road who froze on the spot like a rabbit in headlights as the crowd of runners came towards her. You had to be there believe me!

Progressing nicely through Chichester northwards, the uphill section started, a total climb of 840feet, an average of 66feet a mile. At first I thought it was not too bad. However, at around the 4-mile mark the climb got much steeper. Towards the end, I decided to walk the last section, up a worn chalk and flint track which was an injury waiting to happen and I had still yet to complete my 5,000miles in 1,000days challenge.

Next up, even more uphill running but on grass now to the Trundle. Well worth the climb for the views alone. I stopped several times to take photos, much to the annoyance of Spiderman, who I then flew past again afterwards. Once round the Trundle, the downhill section of the half marathon began - what goes up must come down.  I decided that as it was as steep downhill I would just run as fast as my legs could move, I covered 1km in under 5 minutes with a speed of 7.5 miles an hour! Most of the downhill sections I just flew, being careful where I put my feet and taking into account where I needed to start slowing down.

As I came back into Chichester again, families with young children offered support and encouragement which was nice. I managed to catch up and pass several of the runners that had passed me on the hill climb walk, but I ran out of steam towards the end.  Having crossed the finish gate, I accepted my wooden medal and a welcome cup of water (water is provide at various points but only in disposable plastic cups. I filled my bottle with three cups). I turned around and was amazed at the time clock indicated 2 hours 8 minutes and change.  I even asked if that was the current finish time…..it was.  

My official time was 2 hours 8 minutes and 24 seconds.  This was 6 seconds faster than my Thorney Island half marathon time in May 2022. Amazing considering the dropped water bottle incident and walking part of the uphill section. I finished 115 out of 155 men and 148 out of 225 runners overall.

I have booked the Fleet Half Marathon on Sunday 26 March 2023 (10am start) as a warm up for the London Marathon. I’ve been informed it is flat and all on roads or pavements - the surface which suits me best. I hope to be able to complete this half marathon in under 2 hours for the first time.