Report by Hana
Falmouth Half Marathon will be my 4th Half Marathon out of my 13 in 12 months challenge, and my 4th in 5 weeks. It also happens to fall on Mother’s day, so to fulfil my Daughterly obligations, I have to travel up to Tavistock and just beyond the day before to take my Mother out for coffee, deliver her flowers and then cook her a special meal as a slightly early Mother’s day treat.
“Son in the forces” arrived home the day before so travelled up as well along with “Husband who plays Golf” but as I pull onto my mother’s drive, there was my “Daughter who didn’t run but does now” waiting to greet me, having travelled down from Birmingham just to surprise me. Oh and she announces that she too has entered the Falmouth Half. What more could any mother want?
Sunday morning arrives after a fitful night’s sleep. Alcohol consumption the day before was very low indeed, so I can’t blame that or Coffee, just good old fashioned female hormones I believe. I consume my pre race porridge whilst daughter has two slabs of toast and coffee. It’s chilly outside but dry so no real dilemmas on the clothing front, and hence it doesn’t take long to get out of the door, into “Sydney Skoda” and off down the A39 to Falmouth.
If you arrive before the masses, on street parking is easy to find and saves the expense of car parking fees. It also allows you a short stroll to loosen up before reaching the race HQ in “The Packet Station” a JDWetherspoons drinking and eating establishment on the Moor. I have to say, that it never feels right walking into what is basically a pub at this time of the morning, but it’s warm, really quite large and has a good supply of clean toilets.
As I start to walk up the stairs to the registration point I hear my name being called and find Andy G and a few others TRC runners already in residence with race numbers to hand. Daughter on the other hand has to collect her number from upstairs and is the sole “Bourneville Harriers” runner, a single Teal Race vest, a team of just one, but I’m sure she will do them proud.
The aroma of a full English breakfast has wafted under my nose but I can’t say it does anything other than make me feel queasy, but the person tucking into it looks happy. Maybe it was a bribe to encourage another runner’s loved one to attend the race with them. Not the sort of thing I would do, as you will have noticed from my last race report where “Husband who plays golf” ended up drowned on a cycle ride instead.
I take a few action shots with my camera of the amassing TRC team before daughter and I decide to check out the alternative, hopefully queue free toilets situated a short walk away. I have kept the location of these toilets under wraps, a bit like I did last week at Bideford, with only Isobel being aware of their location and that is because I showed her where they were last year. Anyway for anybody doing their homework for 2016’s race, there are some very clean and well aired council toilets in Webber Street which is the street that runs to the rear of Tesco’s. There is no queue, they are spotless and they have plenty of toilet roll. No cramped portable plastic toilet boxes for us today.
An announcement is made that a pre race warm up is about to start on The Moor, not a Moor as in Dartmoor or Bodmin Moor, just an open space of concrete slabs and Tarmac where the race start and finish is situated. Music starts up and participation in an arm swinging, leg lifting and frown inducing movement session begins. I feel obliged to move something so I flail the odd arm here and there, raise an eyebrow once or twice but I refuse to do any jumping, instead I raise myself up onto my tiptoes to gain height and hey ho, no one was any the wiser. Energy conservation is the order of the day at my age.
Thankfully this warm up session didn’t last too long and we were asked to muster at the start line on the opposite side of The Moor. Daughter and I position ourselves about a third of the way back and decide that we would run our own race as we haven’t run together since the Sarcen Neolithic Marathon in 2013.
I have no idea what was said in the race briefing other than we had to keep ourselves safe and headphones were not allowed. Suddenly silence fell over the crowd with only the screech of the ever present “Shite Hawks” above breaking it. This silence was in memory of the Falmouth Town Neighbourhood Police Officer, Andy Hocking who had died suddenly the weekend before, leaving a huge void in Falmouth which will be hard to fill.
So with Garmin locked onto the satellite above somewhere and readied for the off, I hear someone count down from 5 to 1 and the mass of runners ahead of me start to run in unison with daughter and I following. We veer to the left and then downhill along Webber street before heading through town and over the cobbles. I keep seeing photos of Andy Hockings smiling face in the shops as we pass by and a thought crosses my mind, perhaps “we” should organise a race in his memory and raise some money for a charity at the same time. I have visions of relay teams, running his beat with the old fashioned wooden truncheons as the relay baton. I may even have one or two of these at home somewhere, I use to keep one under the bed, until I forgot all about it and the carpet fitter found it. There is nothing on this planet that you can say in this situation other than actually say nothing at all and let the carpet fitter make up his own mind about why a woman would keep a truncheon under her bed. Home security is my version!!!!!!!!!
Daughter is now ahead of me, this won’t last I tell myself, but who am I kidding. This year she is exactly half my age and added to this she has longer legs. Nigh on all the TRC men are ahead as well, along with Isobel, so I settle into a reasonably comfortable pace. There is a cold nip in the air which is making me cough and splutter. Some kind male asks if I’m Ok, so I have to explain that this is quite normal for this Old Croc and that many regular runners who run at my pace can tell when I’m approaching from behind by my irritating chesty spluttering’s.
We soon pass the delights of Trago Mills, The National Maritime Museum and the docks before the road starts to climb up Castle Drive towards Pendennis Point. This is the first of many climbs but you are rewarded by a nice long section of gradual downhill with views out to sea from the point all the way to Gyllyngvase Beach. There are quite a few supporters along the seafront looking out for family members which makes for a nice atmosphere. My only Family member has increased her lead over me to about 100m. Blast!
Hill No 2 arrives at Spernen Wyn Road, taking us up passed the Grave Yard which always brings back bad memories of the First Falmouth Half Marathon and my close brush with being carted away by St Johns Ambulance (stomach and its contents issues), but I manage to run steadily if slowly pass without any issues. Phew!
The road now heads down to Swanpool, with a lake to our right where water fowl like to gather and small children like to throw chunks of bread at the ducks. There is a nice little beach with a beach cafe, Fish Restaurant, public toilets with brightly painted toilet doors and the 4 mile marker. Wow, those first 4 miles have passed with ease all thanks to the views out to sea to distract the mind. Sadly hill No 3 arrives and it’s not a very nice one. I have though made a conscious decision to try to run everyone of these bleeding hills if the lungs and my spluttering allows.
Up pass the Golf Club I run, passing a few runners who have reverted to walking, something I very often do on hills such as this. These walkers soon overtake me once the flatter section arrives and this repeats it’s self many times over throughout the race. Once the summit is reached we turn left and meander downhill along a wooded section of road that takes us to our fourth beach, at Meanporth, and for anyone desperate for the toilet, there are some more public toilets close to another Beach cafe. This is also where the coast path from Falmouth crosses the beach before heading out across fields at the same point that we start running up hill No 4. This is the road to Meudon followed by the village of Mawnan Smith.
Somewhere in the distance there is a Teal coloured Bourneville Harriers race vest but I can’t see it and I come to the conclusion that unless my daughter of HALF MY AGE has an energy slump, there will be no way I can catch her. I don’t give up complete hope, but at the same time I’m very proud of how she has improved.
As I run into Mawnan Smith I spy a young father to my left jogging along the road with two small tots running alongside him. One of them tires and this male then runs at a fair pace with this child upon his shoulders. Flashes of Health and Safety issues rush through my head and I keep my fingers crossed that he doesn’t encounter a trip hazard, as this gallant feat could all end in tears and serious injuries for the smallest one. Maybe he should consider entering the Wife carrying race next year which took place a week or so ago, somewhere on the other side of the Tamer?
Small and large hands hold out tubs of Jelly Beans and other sweet goodies for us runners to indulge in, which are gratefully received by many but not by me. I still haven’t mastered the art of eating or drinking during a race. I have tried but all I end up with in my mouth is something resembling wallpaper paste and then choke.
We pass The Red Lion Public House on our left and nice little cafe on our right and then a spar village shop before we are directed right along Carlidnack Road. It occurs to me, that this route has vast quantities of tea, cake, savouries and Alcohol opportunities along the way and could quite easily be turned into a Cornish Version of the Medoc Marathon just half the distance. Now there’s a thought!
We wind our way along sheltered tree lined country lanes with two more small hills thrown in to test our now tiring legs. I manage to slowly run up these but my legs feel as if they have been hollowed out and filled with a lead like substance and I know that there is Hill No 7 yet to come at Budock Water. A hill that has a single arrow printed against it on the ordnance survey map. I do think though that that arrow might be a little over the top. If I keep my eyes on the ground and not up searching for the end of this uphill gradient, the hill seems to pass without too much trouble and I also know that from this point on, all the real hills are done and dusted. We only have a couple little slopes to tackle before the end.
I have to say that for the next half a mile or so, I appear to have gone to sleep and remember very little until we reach a roundabout and we are directed off to the left before a long downhill at Hillhead to Eastwood road in Penryn. Really I should be enjoying this downhill and the natural momentum it allows, but my left knee protests and it is not the pain free section it should be. Grin and bear it, try and make up some time and I tell myself the race will soon be over.
Now The Falmouth half has one little strange section to the route to bring the distance up to half marathon length. It involves being directed right into the yard at Baileys Country Store just off Eastwood Road, running UPHILL around three cones and back down again, to then continue back out onto the pavement along the B3292 Falmouth Road. It’s at this point that you get to glimpse those runners hot on your heels and today I can see Claire and Nigel from TRC. Does this put me under pressure? Of course it does, because when you only have two miles to go, and you have been ahead of them for 10 miles, the last thing you want to do is give up that lead. Oh what is my running mantra supposed to be? Oh yes, run to complete, not run to compete……I just seem to have removed the letter “L” today.
We are guided across the road near to Ocean BMW and then left along North Parade with the river on our left and us passing the Greenbank Hotel. Now that would be a good place to stop for a glass of bubbly on my suggested alternative race with a great view out over the river towards Flushing. Stop dreaming woman there is one last hill to run up, just after the yacht club that takes us to the top of High street and a downward slope before turning right up Webber Street to the finishing line.
I’m trying hard to sprint, but the legs protest. I’m not looking over my shoulder for fear of what or who I may see, but I hear a cheer from the finish line, where my daughter is willing me on. I cross the line, over 2 minutes faster than last year and two minutes slower than my daughter. I’m a happy bunny and we share a big hug before collecting our Medals, free pasty, banana, bottle of water and voucher for a glass of bubbly.
It’s time to get out of the cold and warm up inside “The Packet Station”. Daughter drinks the bubbly (we seem to have amassed quite a few extra vouchers) I’m driving, so she buys me a very large coffee to wash down my chocolate bar. No Snickers Bar today as Daughter has a Peanut allergy so my Chocolate bar of choice today is a “Boost”. It’s OK but doesn’t quite match up to my first choice.
As usual I hang around for the presentations to take place outside on The Moor, and Daughter and I are joined by “Our Diane” who has cycled over from Portreath (Triathlon training) “8 pin Colin” who came in as 2nd male and there to my right looking a little like Paddington Bear with his brown luggage label attached to his back pack is IR from Bodmin running club. Isobel has told me that should the prizes be wine I could keep them so as I always do as I am told that is what I do. I collect the Bottle for 2nd Lady, 1st in that age Cat which seems so young that Issy wins and I have to convince all the supporters that it really isn’t me that’s so young…. Ha bloody Ha I hear you say. After quite a few other age Cats I finally get to collect a Bottle of wine for my efforts as I have managed to come 2nd in the Old Croc’s once again. By the end of the prize giving I have 3 boxes full of bottles of wine. Ladies Team, Men’s Team, Isobel’s and mine………oh and one for Steve Rawson. “Husband who plays golf” will be impressed. Sadly the men will have to return their wine as they were awarded the prize by mistake…….unless I drink it all first?
So all in all:
- Parking: plentiful with on street for free and the Quarry car park a stone’s throw away which charges a parking fee.
- Race HQ: Ideal, it was warm and spacious with good facilities.
- Toilets: the ones in the Race HQ were clean and I didn’t have to queue, but there was the added advantage of council ones in Webber Street, which you could not Fault.
- The route: Very scenic, varied and reasonably challenging.
- The Marshalls: All were cheerful, kept us on the straight and narrow and the road crossings worked very well.
- Goody bag: Just a medal but a vastly improved one from last year and you also received a hot pasty, water, banana and a voucher for a glass of bubbly or Juice from Weatherspoon’s.
Will I run this race again? As it is part of the GP series, I probably will.