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Running Fleet Half Marathon

Running the Fleet Half Marathon 26 March 2023 10am start

A friend had suggested that this was the classic ideal build up "dress rehearsal" for the London Marathon a month later. Around 3,000 runners usually take part on the reported flat, all-road route. Those running must complete the 13.1miles in under the permitted 3-hour cut off.

The Fleet half marathon is the ideal curtain raiser for London as it is early enough to recover from an injury, yet close enough to give a guide and useful experience of running in a big event ahead of the main event the TCS London Marathon 2023.

I booked my place early on 2 December 2022 at reasonable £30.

Of concern for me is the no headphones rule.  I have never come across this before.


The use of personal stereos, iPods, phones or other music devises is not allowed under UKA rule 240 S5 – the wearing of headphones, or similar devices, (other than those medically prescribed), is not permitted in races on any single carriageway road that is not wholly closed to traffic. There are some sections on the Fleet Half course which do have traffic coming in the opposite direction to runners and is therefore not wholly closed.

The wearing of such equipment may prevent you from hearing instructions from marshals and other event staff as well as the hearing of sirens/horns from emergency services and other vehicles. By wearing such devices you are putting yourself and those around you at risk.

Rule 240 S5 also states if the athlete wears conductive headphones, these are acceptable as these work by conducting sound through bones and do not sit or block the ears.

The Event Organisers will have no responsibility should this rule be ignored. Please do not risk our ability to get a future license for this event by ignoring this rule.

Runners seen to be wearing headphones may be disqualified but the Event Organisers"

I did attempt to have this clarified before booking but their reply was

"Our T&Cs follow the UK Athletics rules which are for Bone Conductivity headphones only.  This is for the safety of all runners and our preference is that all runners follow this rule but it is difficult to enforce."

I cannot run without my music. I did consider using my over ear headphones regardless, thinking I could remove them in areas of traffic and I can actually hear traffic and people talking, cheering and car engines anyway. I’m not convinced by bone conductivity headphones but decided to buy a cheap set for £17 from Amazon and use them to avoid trouble on the day. Having tried these out beforehand, I can hear the music just but it is quieter and not as good quality. I also found my ears got cold!

My race pack arrived as promised two weeks before, so no need to get there really early and collect it on race day like some events. Another nice touch to this friendly event, I had my name on my race number. On the day, it had rained heavily overnight and was continuing to do so during my 80 mile drive north to Fleet. I really didn’t want to run in this rain. I arrived at 8.15am and managed to park for £1 in a side street a few yards from the event "Race Village" in Calthorpe Park. As it was still raining, despite many others walking to the park, I decided to stay in my car until 30 minutes before the start. This race attracted quite a few "serious runners" in all manner of expensive, brightly coloured new, springy shoes, stretching this and that way ahead of the actual start. Were it not for the rain, this would have been a good people watching opportunity.

Fleet half marathon start

Despite my projected finish time of 2 hours, I found myself at the back of the start in the slow group. Even worse by the time I got to the race park entrance and before the start gate, I elected to go for a quick pee so as to avoid the need during the race and queues, it was after all cold and wet! So off we start, running in persistent drizzle, the first time I have run in rain by choice – not nice. Even after the first hour when the rain finally stopped, puddles were everywhere and I ran with wet feet for the duration.  By mile 2, we were running down the High Street and despite the miserable conditions, hundreds of spectators had come out to cheer us runners on, ringing cow bells and banging saucepans. There was even a band playing in the High Street, all of which provided a great carnival atmosphere and showed a good community spirit. Also along the route people shouted encouragement as we flagged especially towards the end, with children offering sweets and everyone clapping.

As for the circuit, described to me as "flat" this was apparently the old course which changed this year!  NowWet but happy after 30 minutes described as "undulating" there are quite a few long, steep hills to run up, with equally long, but more gradual declines. I found this to be really energy sapping and a strain on my hamstrings. There are two 'out and back' sections the first is quite long and can be demoralising on the out (uphill) leg seeing faster runners in the opposite direction.

There are four water stations at around every 4 miles but in plastic cups so you will need a bottle to fill if you want to ensure you have water for between stations as I always do.

At the finish the announcer asked the crowd to "give Phil and big hand as like many taking part today, he is running on behalf of a charity St Wilfrids Hospice."  The club juniors handed out a very nice medal and a goody bag which could be used as a lightweight "rucksack" and inside were a snood, a rather nice bar of chocolate and rescue fruit balls which will come in handy for London in 3 weeks time.

Just 10 minutes later back at the car, my phone pinged with my chip finish time of:

2 hours and 1 minute. Not quite the 1 hour 45 minutes I had been aiming for, but given the hills and the wet I’m happy with that. Back home, I received an e mail with my finish details and links to the site where runners can download free event photos. Another nice touch.

I can thoroughly recommend this half marathon. It is very well organised, with excellent marshals and volunteers and is on 100% closed roads and will be great preparation for any upcoming big city road marathon.

Fleet High Street Fleet half marathon finisher's medal Race number with name The Fleet half marathon band Fleet half marathon course Totally drained and wet at the finish

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