Sunday 20th October 2013
Sunday 20th October is a busy date in the Half/Marathon runners Diary. I had looked at the races available on this date at the start of the year and had contemplated the Palma Half (could have squeezed a last minute week in the sun with that one) the Amsterdam Half (a long weekend of culture maybe) [Emma Stepto of Cornwall AC would have given you a run for your money there though Hana!] and then in the UK, the Birmingham Half (cheap accommodation with Daughter who is back running again), but the one I really wanted to do, was the Eden Half, a race I had run back in 2011 with Julie.
It wasn’t until about August that the Eden Half/Marathon finally featured on the internet and entries opened, and as I had dithered with regards to the other races, My Diary was empty for the weekend of the 20th October 2013, so I entered the Eden Half, as did Julie.
In the run up to this event, I had run many local races, but due to family commitments and work I hadn’t really been able to notch up that many long runs, to get my legs, lungs and head back into running Half Marathons. I know I can cover this distance, but since Indian Queens, I have struggled over the last 3 miles. Maybe I need to train for another Marathon, as running half marathons were much easier at the start of the year?????
So, Sunday 20th October arrives. The weather forecast has predicted a mixed bag of weather for us today and at 6:30 am it is looking decidedly dark outside. As daylight finally battles passed the heavy clouds it still doesn’t look too inviting, but it isn’t pouring with rain……just yet!!!
I stick with my latest fad in breakfast choice. The Muesli soaked overnight in milk topped with yogurt and Raspberries. It fills me up a little too much today, but I have plenty of time for it to settle before the 10am start…………..I hope.
I pack my race bag for every eventuality. I have hot weather gear (optimistic), cold weather gear (unlikely as very mild at the moment), wet weather gear (more likely) and my trail running shoes. The race info does state that for the Half Marathon road shoes will be fine, but with the rain we have had overnight, I know the off road sections of this race will be muddy and I really don’t want my pretty turquoise road shoes to change colour……not just yet anyway.
Julie arrives at 08:15 and off to Eden we go. We know from previous years, that you need to get there at least an hour in advance, even though you have had your race number and Chip timing device sent to you in advance. It is a fair trek between the parking areas and the changing/bag drop and start line, but they do have shuttle buses running. In 2011 we were directed to park close to the Biomes but this year the earlier you arrive, the further away from them you are directed to park. This means only one thing I am going to have a ride on the Eden “Bendy bus”.
Julie and I arrive at the photo spot above the Biomes and a kind member of staff takes our photo then suggests we might like to “get a move on”. We have had to stand in the less than perfect spot for this photo, due to a young couple engaging in a prolonged snogging session. Is this some new pre race ritual that I have no knowledge about? Or maybe it is his/her equivalent of a caffeine packed gel. Time for the Old croc’s to move on I think.
The baggage drop is in the core building and we have a nice large room for the ladies to disrobe and leave their kit behind. NO we aren’t running naked. So what to wear is the dilemma. Shoes, no problem, I’ve opted for my multi terrain ones. I then decide that just the TRC running vest, could be uncomfortable if it rains, so I wear a thin base layer T-shirt underneath. Coat……no too warm and I don’t want to carry a bum bag. “IQ reducer”? a definite yes. If it rains it will mean I can see where I am going by keeping the rain off my glasses.
Race No 1122 attached
Timing chip fixed to ankle by means of a Velcro’s strap.
Bus to catch.
Bendy Bus arrives, and the latest batch of arrivals disgorge and make their way to the baggage area etc… a couple of males with bags of running kits remain seated, chat amongst themselves and I hear one of them saying “No the bus goes further down”. Julie and I look at each other and shake our heads. Too late, the doors close, the bus turns around and heads back up the hill to the parking and race start area. A look of panic/disbelief falls across their faces. Ooops. Typical males, if they had only asked the simple question “is this where we get off” they wouldn’t now be heading back up to their cars.
The start line this year is in an area just off the Strawberry Parking area. The bus drops us off and we now mingle with the gathering crowd. There is a plentiful supply of Porta Loo’s with an orderly queue of runners waiting to try them out. I join this queue. Off to the left are a collection of portable latrines. No photo’s I’m afraid as my camera had been left with my baggage and I might have ended up being arrested for voyeurism if I had snapped the males in full flow, so to speak.
A sizable group of TRC runners join Julie and I. Team Goundry have arrived as has Wendy, Mark, Beth and Stu to name a few, but off to my left something catches my eye. I spy the very elusive STEVE RAWSON. The Steve Rawson, that keeps winning trophies but is never there to collect them. The Steve Rawson, who may well wear our TRC strip, but doesn’t join our pre race group huddles, Maybe he’ll attend the “Mob Match” presentations?…….then again why break the momentum of the year?!!!
Race briefing starts. I hear a few words of it, which are the usual ones. Obey the marshals etc….but the most important one was, “those running the half marathon kept left at mile 7”. I must remember to keep my head up between mile 6 and 7 so that I don’t inadvertently end up on the marathon route, now that would be a disaster.
We are now told to move across to an area on our right and the start line. Garmin loaded, Breakfast not feeling settled. And even after 3 trips to test out the assorted toilets, my brain still tells me I need to go again. Too late, the race has started and off we go, across the matted area where hopefully our chip timing will start to work.
We run along a short section of flat, and I can see Wendy professionally weaving around the slower runners. Knowing that after about a mile, we will hit a narrow section of footpath where things could get gridlocked, I decide to do the same, but not so professionally. The road now descends down a leafy green lane in the Prideaux Valley towards St Blazey. I pass a pedestrian walking in the same direction carrying a large bag of Parrot bedding and food. I then spot Pat, from Hayle running club, armed with her trusty camera, so I wave my arms frantically at her and shout “Yoo-hoo” or words to that effect. I must add, that my Basking Shark impersonation which I appear to have adopted at this point, is not my most photogenic look. The resulting photo’s are not flattering (Thank you Wendy for finding them). Let’s just hope there are no young children or frail elderly readers viewing them, but then again, they have come out in time for Halloween and could keep the “Trick or Treater’s” from your door.
I pick up a nice speedy pace (for me that is) down this lane, which is bit too brisk really, but why not make hay whilst the sun shines and let gravity assist me. I overtake the slower runners ahead and my lungs are not protesting. The road flattens out after one glorious mile of downhill. My airways seem to be clear, they aren’t congested, and I am able to concentrate on where I’m putting my feet, instead of just trying to breath.
We have hit the egg timer section of the route. We have turned left off the pavement in St Blazey and are heading along a very muddy uneven path with a stream and railway line to our right. I am watching where the runners ahead of me are placing their feet. Some are ploughing through the puddles; others are tip toeing around the edges. I’m stepping into the footprints that have been left before me. Bl—dy hell, I’m now soaked from the knees down, one runner with heavy feet has sent a tidal wave rolling back towards me and I’m not fast enough to dodge it. I can feel dark brown skanky water seep into my right shoe and slosh around, but after a few more steps it warms up and is joined by more water of the brown peaty kind. I obviously don’t heel kick; I appear to drag my feet too low so swoosh the puddles from time to time.
The path now leads us into a very low but short tunnel, before we enter North Hill Wood and a gradual uphill slog towards Treffry viaduct. This is where the previous week’s Race for Wildlife at Penzance helps, because if you can run for 3 miles uphill in that race, then this 2 mile section will be a doddle……..ish. The scenery is beautiful, (what I can see from under the peak of my cap which is pulled down low) with the trees displaying all their wondrous autumnal colours. The path is reasonably firm to soft under foot and there is space between us runners. You don’t actually notice the viaduct above you at the end of the path, as you are routed right along a dirt track and then out onto country lanes leading to Luxulyan.
As we near the village of Luxulyan, the gradient of the road steepens and I decide to walk a very short section. The church bells are ringing a mournful toll; I hope it is just a call to worship and nothing more sinister. There are parishioners stood at the side of the road, clapping and cheering us all on and we are steered off to the right and the first drops of rain fall.
I had been regretting the base layer T Shirt and “IQ reducer” due to menopausal woman overheating, but as the rain starts to fall I think that maybe I have chosen the right items to wear.
The next few miles seem to come and go without any problems. I drift along in a sort of day dream, bypassing any water stations that have been placed out for us to use. I seemed to be coping really quite well with the course and mileage. The downhill sections are worse than the uphill ones. They are steeper with debris from heavy rain and high winds providing the potential to slip and slide. I have to engage some form of breaking and not free fall down the slopes, which starts to cause the outer side of my left knee to feel uncomfortable. This also happened back in 2011 when I ran this race. Grrrrr!
Some of the roads are running with water, which once again due to me not picking my feet up and heel kicking, I manage to swoosh water up over the front of my shoe which does cool the feet down with a squelch! Thankfully the water was running clear and wasn’t full of slurry!
Mile 7 arrives. I know this, as I can hear a race marshal instructing us to either bear left (half marathon) or right (full marathon). They also had Boards painted up with blue or red arrows showing where you should go. The instructions were so clear that you had no way of going the wrong way. I hear someone call out my name and see Doug Alsop shouting encouragement. That’s someone else that knows my name, which is always worrying. I chose the left hand option and before long there was a slow rumble from above me.
That rumble, turned into an almighty growl, as God decided to rearrange his loft then tip the bath out. The sky lit up and we were directly under a thunder storm. The next crash came after a 4 second interval from lightning to the thunder. I did a quick body check.
Legs……Metal plates negative..Check.
Body……metal clasps negative…..Check (no under wiring in my underwear thank god)
Head…….Teeth, several Gold ones…..keep mouth shut and run faster.
Boom another clap of thunder, rain still pouring. Oh how happy I am, that I’m not on top of Helman’s Tor like the marathon runners. And the cap is working brilliantly (glasses clear) even if the Security Hanky is soggy and unhappy.
The thunder and flashes of lightning stay with us. The rain is almost refreshing as the air temperature really isn’t that cold whilst you are moving. I pass the time of day with a couple male runners who are discussing the Bournemouth marathon and the Cornish one coming up soon. Having listened to them discuss the Cornish one, I’m so delighted I’ve opted for the “Drogo 10” instead.
It isn’t long until we are onto some trails which I have cycled along earlier this year. We are somewhere between Bowling Green and Trethurgy. The paths are relatively easy to run along as they are a mix of white sand and stony mud. Although they are fairly narrow, you can squeeze past other runners, should the need arise. It didn’t for me.
Before I know it, we are at the roundabout by the main entrance to the Eden Project. “It’s all downhill from here” was the comment I heard. “You lie” I think. Most of this final couple miles, is downhill I suppose, but there are some cruel little rises that make the legs protest. My left leg is sore from the outer knee down. I wince from time to time and look forward to finishing this race. It’s still raining, but finally the thunder has moved on.
The race route takes you down the twisting road-train lanes within the Eden complex with a great view over the Biomes. Doug Alsop pops up once again, and says “Is that you Hana, under that cap” I attempt a sort of smile (which if I was a baby, could be mistaken for wind) and carry on to the finishing line. I am aware though of someone making ground on me from behind, but I cross the line first to the sound of someone announcing my name over the loud speaker. I wave my hands in the air then rush for cover.
It’s time to collect the race goodies, A cotton T Shirt, race medal, bottle of water and a vouchers for a free pasty and a pint of beer.
I’m too wet and cold to wait at the finishing area to see others cross the line, so head straight for the changing area, where after helping to increase the profit margins of Johnson’s baby wipes, I climb into lovely dry warm clothes. Am I bothered by the huge glass window and the open door that allows passers by to look into this changing room? Am I heck. At my age, and after having given birth to two children should anyone chose to look in, they will get more of a shock that I will.
It isn’t long before Julie joins me and we head off to collect our pasties. As usual we stay for the Half Marathon presentations, and Team Goundry joins us. They are only giving prizes for first placed runners, so no prizes for me, but I was pleased with 4th lady in the 50-59 age cat and 36th woman over all. Best of all, TRC ladies were 1st in the team category…….very nice bottle of red now on the mantelpiece.
So all in all:
- Parking. Plentiful, with a shuttle bus, running between each car park and the Biomes.
- Toilets. What a choice. Traditional toilets at the main buildings of the venue, with grey water for flushing, so very eco.
- At the start area there were also masses of portable loo’s. Sadly the one that fell vacant for me to use, had a broken flush, so not the nicest of experiences. I’ll live though.
- The route of this race is very scenic and the terrain is varied. The hills are nowhere as bad as the Truro Half and to finish the race by the Biomes is wonderful.
- Goodie bag. Good, but not as good as 2011, when we had free entry to the Eden Project for a year as well.
- Refreshments were available within the Eden Project, but they are rather costly. I did try to sweet talk the nice young man making my coffee, but I failed to get any discount.
Will I run this race again? Yes, The Marshalls were great, the route is good and any Half Marathon close to home is worth entering. Roll on the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Half Marathon in February, which is 80% off road around the Lanhydrock Estate.
Full 2013 Eden Marathon result (PDF) (from the Eden website)
- Pete Roper (pictured, right) 2:55:53
- Marc Smerdon 3:08:42
- Stuart Nicholas 3:13:46
- Isobel Wykes 3:24:40 – Woohoo!!!
- Emma Murray 3:40:30
- Nichola Brierley 3:43:33
Full 2013 Eden Half Marathon result (PDF) (From the Eden website)
- Peter Le Grice 1:12:56
- Adam Miller 1:21:08
- Shaun Tozer 1:24:17
- Heather Fisher 1:29:30
- Kathryn Burgess, 1:33:42
- Joanna Herd 1:34:00