Saltash Half Marathon 2017

Report By Hana


I do also drink white wine

Saturday 30th April the sun is shining, “husband who plays golf” has played golf, been to work, and is playing squash before a boys night out at a curry establishment. So what exactly is a girl supposed to do? Well this girl has received a message from a certain purveyor of grape juice “The Art of WINE” telling her that they have some bottles of French wine that need tasting. How can I refuse as it is my hydration product of choice for pre-race preparation?

Now I know that a single (as in alone not unmarried) woman in a drinking venue is a cause for concern. Some might think that she is an alcoholic, on the pull or just very sad. Now some of you might think that my preoccupation with the red nectar makes me an alcoholic but I can say hand on heart that I have had one day this month when none passed my lips. As for being on the pull, I did sort of. A male of years greater than mine and a fellow lover of wine joined me and polite imbibing and conversation took place. Having tasted all but one wine that was on offer it was time to walk home, in a straight line and alone.

Sunday mornings alarm sounds and with a quick shove I assist the husband out of bed. I do believe he is suffering some after effects of his night out which has sadly been heightened by age. Me on the other hand, well I’m feeling really quite chipper until I pull back the curtains and see that the BBC weather app is correct and precipitation is falling from the sky. I had sort made a deal with myself the day before, that should the rain be of the torrential to just plain heavy variety then I might allow myself to stay warm and dry at home and not drive all the way to Saltash, just to end up cold and miserable. I thought about this for a while, and then with porridge consumed, “Sydney Skoda” and I made the trek up the A38 to the Devon border.

Parking at Saltash on this Bank Holiday weekend is free in all the car parks, but sadly all but one, which is already full, is a bit of a trek away. I Street park instead and walk to the race HQ at the Football club.

The Club house is by no means luxurious and of no great size so I’m glad I’ve arrived in time to find a space to stand in and keep out of the moist weather. I collect my race number then decide that toilets could be in short supply so I go off to check them over. I’m correct, we have two cubicles decorated in a 1970’s theme and already one of them has run out of toilet roll. I was never a “Brownie or Girl Guide” but this Old Croc likes to be prepared, so out of the bottom of my rucksack I produce a slightly squashed toilet roll. I even tear off a strip for the girl waiting to use the cubical after me but I’m not generous enough to leave what is left behind. It is time for others to come prepared for all eventualities. And yes I do have a Swiss Army Penknife which I keep in my hand bag and a pair of small clippers in my walking bag for cutting my way through overgrown sections of footpath.

I return to what I suppose you could call the lounge/bar area of the club house and scan the room for anyone I know. Not a single TRC runner is in sight but I do spy the lovely Jenny Mills of Launceston road runners and we have our usual hug. Jenny is very petite so I sort of smother her. Today there are no males of a certain age to have a snog with sadly, well there are, but as I don’t know any of them, they might not appreciate being assaulted by an unknown aged female.

The rain has gathered momentum and volume, so no one appears keen to venture out for a warm up run. I’m dressed in a long sleeved top, TRC vest, shorts, and have my very lightweight waterproof jacket over the top and my “IQ reducer” cap on to try and keep my glasses rain free. I had considered running tights but thought that if they got soaked they might drag on the knees. Bare legs are easier to wipe dry but in truth the only thing that would keep us dry today would be a deep sea immersion suit.

It is time to muster outside at the start line on the grass pitch. There is nowhere to shelter and Jenny who is dressed in a T-shirt and shorts and carries no fat to keep her warm, has wrapped the “start line” flag around her in an attempt to keep some of the weather off her. I’m frozen and regretting not putting gloves on, yet around me there is a lot of bare flesh on display with hyperthermia setting in.

One, two, three and we are off with instructions to keep left where possible. Out of the football ground we run and then it’s a run around the houses. It’s not the most scenic housing estate but we have a few downhills that take us to St Stephens where I spot a lovely parish church. As I have my rain coat hood up and cap on my head I find my head is predominately facing the ground and studying the puddles that are forming rapidly on the road surface.

Once we reach St Stephens we start an almighty climb up a lane which on the map has two chevrons. STEEP is the only way to describe it and it is pointless for me to try to run it. I speed walk and those that jog past soon follow suit. I do spot Trematon Castle to my right and then onwards we all plod along narrow country lanes.

I’m in a world of my own, progressively getting very soggy and my socks are squelching. I’m distracted from how uncomfortable I feel by the vision of a muscular male in tight Lycra where nothing on view wobbles (stop tittering Helen T ) who I decide must be a PTI at one of the military establishments in the Plymouth/Torpoint area.  I stay behind him for quite a while but for most of the remaining race I have to make do with the odd glimpse from time to time.

We pass numerous “water stations” which I thought just added insult to injury with what was falling from the sky. There was no way anymore cold water was going to pass my lips, hot tea would have been better, but the volunteers manning these stations need congratulating as they must have been soaked and cold.

The route undulates (I’m being polite here) some undulations are worse than others and the word flat never comes into the equation, but I only walk two sections. It also does a frying pan thing, where at an area called Trematon we take the lane to our left and loop around to the same spot to see those slower veering left as we did earlier. It is also just prior to this point that I see the lead runner approaching, who must have been a good ¾ mile ahead of the 2nd placed male. He was storming! (He also broke the course record by 2 minutes)

As for me, I know that there are at least 4 other females ahead of me, Jenny being one of them and she is in the V65 category.  She is amazing as last weekend she ran a 100k challenge in the Chilterns. I very rarely keep up with her and today neither are females much younger than both of us. Big ego boost for this Old girl!

From mile 8 my shorts (cycling style not silk ones) are causing a few problems as they are sodden and I’m concerned that there might be some chaffing going on in areas I’d rather not be chaffed, but PTI in tight lycra passes once again and my mind is distracted, soon followed by another similarly toned male with biceps that most of you TRC men would die for. Menopausal woman is smiling; this running in the rain isn’t so bad after all.

The very steep 2 chevron hill I walked up earlier is now approaching once again, but this time we have to run down it. I’m not sure which is worse, up or down? My right thigh muscle is tightening, my knees feel strained and then I’m out of control as I negotiate the tight left hand bend. My arms are flailing and I have the giggles, thankfully I stay upright and reach the bottom to find yet another hill to climb.

It isn’t long before we are back running around the houses and the finish is in sight. OMG Lycra man is in sight. He is with another male who is having a few difficulties. Lycra man appears to know him and offers encouragement. I decide to sprint but they cross the finish line just ahead of me and does Lycra man glance back and offer his hand, no he bl—dy doesn’t. You see girls when you are 50+ you become invisible. Never go out with your adult daughters just find solace in a good red wine (in moderation) and console yourself if you are able to pull any male over 70. Happy days.

Anyway, I’ve crossed the finish line in 1:50, I’m cold, wet and in need of a shower. The shower that the race info said was available. I head for the bar with water dripping off every part of me and ask the question “where are the showers?” barmaid (I know very non PC) replies “ He’s just gone to unlock the changing room.”

Elderly male in aged grey Woolley cardigan returns and cordiality is obviously not one of his strengths nor is hospitality. “The hot water hasn’t been turned on”

I am not impressed. This happened two years ago when I ran this race and I wasn’t impressed then, but at least that time it was warm dry and sunny. I bite my lip as words of disgust are already forming and should perhaps not be uttered in public. I pick up my bag and head off to the leisure centre next door. There I find a delightful young female at the reception desk. I try my most pathetic look and ask if there is any way I might be able to use their showers. She looks at my bedraggled state, smiles and gives me the code to get into the shower room. I may have stood longer than normal under the flow of hot water but god it was worth it. I was warm, clean and those rude words in my head had evaporated.

In the changing room I get talking to another lady who had managed to sweet talk the receptionist into passing the code to this shower room and she had driven over from Port Isaac where she has been working for the last 18 weeks. “Is that filming by any chance…….Doc Martin?” I ask.

“I don’t watch this program” I continue and neither does she, but she is the makeup artist.

So refreshed and smelling sweet I return to the Football club house and await the prize giving with the Lovely Jenny. For I have come first in the V50 category and 5th female (wow) and Jenny who is approaching 68 glorious years won her age cat and wait for it…………………………….was second female.

So all in all:

  • Toilets: No queue, not many and lacking loo rolls but I believe it was replenished about 5 minutes before the race start.
  • Marshalls: Brilliant and god they must have been very cold and soggy.
  • Route: Hilly, parts scenic but the section around the houses is dull.
  • Goody bag: Banana, Mars Bar, T-shirt (yellow and very large so I had to swap it   for an XS) but the T-Shirt had no mention of “HALF MARATHON” on it.

Would I run it again? Not sure