Indian Queens Half Marathon 2017

Report by Hana Clitherow

I start this race report with some trepidation. Do I dare try to add any humour or personal observations for fear of offending someone? My close shave with a “Trade Mark” infringement a couple years ago was easy to deal with, just don’t use a generic name for a portable toilet and all will be good, but individual human beings are a different matter.

I have pontificated over whether to actually even attempt to write another race report again, but the response from those whom I discussed my angst with, after having to edit the last one, was favourable. So here I am with fingers trembling, probably an after effect of Fridays Wine tasting evening at The Art of Wine and with my mind completely blank, wondering how to kick start this essay.

OK, let’s start with my usual pre-race preparation: Friday night, so thankfully not the night before the race, was Portuguese wine tasting at my favourite evening hydration spot in Truro, The Art of Wine. The lovely and I must also add hansom Victor from Lisbon Wine, travelled to Truro to present an evening of wonderful Portuguese wine. Now I have to say that I have never heard anyone say, “I’m just popping out to buy a bottle of Portuguese wine” but after Friday, I will add a couple to my wine rack. It was an evening of laughter and imbibing followed by a morning of parched mouth, gently throbbing head and a slightly delicate constitution. Nothing that numerous glasses of water and a large pot of coffee wouldn’t cure.

I am also trying to get some mileage in my legs for a Marathon in September that I have entered in one of my more delusional moments, but family commitments, wet weather, heat, work and sheer laziness have really scuppered all my well laid plans. I think what I am trying to say is that I’m burying my head in the sand once again and just not putting the effort in. I had contemplated a long run on Saturday morning but with a Half Marathon the following day that really wouldn’t be sensible. Instead I walk out to Trelissick from home to meet Julie, who is tail runner at Park Run, we engage in good quality moaning, coffee and cake, then a walk around the estate to continue our moaning before walking back to Truro. Garmin registered 12 miles and with my walk to the farmers market first thing and an amble to Tesco’s after, I cover at least 15 miles on my aged legs and felt suitably tired by the end of the day. Rested legs……..I think not.

Sunday morning arrives and it’s grey but dry, so I pack dear “Sydney Skoda” with everything that I can possibly think of to cover all weather possibilities and head off towards the A30 and the sunny metropolis of Indian Queens. I get as far Tesco’s roundabout and suddenly realise I have not packed my “Security Hanky”. I always run with my “security Hanky” a large turquoise gents cotton hanky is my hanky of choice but any colour will do, but I have none. I have a slight panic but decide that I should really just carry on without it, I mean I have tissues in the glove box and an old tea towel in the door pocket which I could always use instead. It’s only to mop my sweaty furrowed brow and wipe my nose whilst I run, as I am not a woman who performs “Snot rockets”. Mind you, I did use a tissue one time and ended up with bits stuck to my face as if I had had several shaving mishaps that morning. Not a good look at the best of times.

I arrive at my destination to be signposted into the industrial estate as usual for race parking.

I decide to sit in the car for 5 minutes to listen to the end of the song that is playing on the radio and play 2 moves of online scrabble, which proved fortuitous. As I look up from my phone the windscreen of my car is covered in rain. Grrrrrrrr ! Even if I failed to pack my “security hanky”, at least I have packed my “IQ reducer” to keep the rain off my glasses. The rain is a just a short shower and soon passes, so I gather my running bag and the gods are looking after me. For within a pocket of the rain coat I had left in my car is a large Lilac gent’s hanky. My mental equilibrium has been restored, I will be able to run this race with right hand tightly clenched around such item and my facial water feature can have its flow stemmed.

The race HQ is at the Working Men’s club in St Francis road and just before I reach it there is a chapel on the left where they have outdoor toilets that are available for the race entrants to use. I glance to my left to see there is already a queue formed there for the ladies, so decide to give this facility a miss. I move onto the car park of the Working Men’s club and there I find a neat row of green “Andy’s Loo’s” again with a queue already formed, so I decide that I had best join this queue if I want to be comfortable before and during this race. The queue moves quickly and I enter a clean odour free vestibule with toilet roll and antibacterial foam, so all is good. There are more toilets within the club house and I later test them out as they have a short queue. They are clean and adequate of a standard design for 1970’s club houses of Cornwall, but in truth we do not need anything other than this to cater for our needs apart from SHOWERS of which there is none at this event.

The main club house is steaming. I struggle through the door into the main hall and bar area looking for other TRC members who point me in the direction of Jan who does the race results/entries and is holding onto our race numbers. Once upon a time we would have a club member who would collect all the numbers then dish them out as TRC runners arrive, but this no longer happens. I have to say that I declined the offer of taking them today as having done this a couple times in the past, I have found myself “left holding the baby” so to speak.

Helen D

So with race number attached, race clothing sorted, “security Hanky” in my fist and two chunks of Kendal Mint Cake consumed I wander up to the race start area with Helen D and Claire M in Chapel Road. It’s a road start and as it isn’t closed to traffic until the last few minutes we have to stand on the pavement. The atmosphere is jovial with the really keen/fast runners gathering where the start line has been sprayed onto the road surface.

A pre-race briefing takes place and with no messing the hooter sounds and we are off. Down the road we run, avoiding bollards and speed humps before taking the second turning on our left onto a country lane then first right towards Ruthvoes. It’s a country lane with an uneven surface but I’ve seen worse. It’s a tad congested and one person to my rear nearly takes a fall probably due to someone standing on their heels. It pays to be taller in these situations as then you don’t get elbows in your face, but there are a few males intent on overtaking at any cost. I am having to keep my eyes down with my peripheral vision on high alert. It’s a bit like we are the characters in an old fashioned “Sega mega drive” game, and I was and still am totally cr-p at these games but somehow I remain on my feet and continue on my way.

This lane takes us back up towards where we first started the race but as we start the steady grind up the hill we are directed left onto the clay trails crossing the A30 and off along hard paths taking us to Goss Moor. We are serenaded by a local brass band and the odd pleasure cyclist stops to allow us to pass, but the cattle we have been told to watch out for are nowhere to be seen, only their by-products which provides me with some distraction from my tired legs, as I play dodge the cow pat.

The path across Goss Moor feels fairly level but for some reason really sapping of energy levels. I go into a sort of trance and just go through the motion of putting one foot in front of another and concentrate on breathing. We run along lanes where gates have been opened so we don’t have to cross the cattle grids, there are water stations dotted around but I decline any water and the heat levels for myself are bearable as the sun is only making the occasional appearance.

At one point the lead runner heads towards us slower mites and he is miles ahead of the 2nd and 3rd place males. As for me, I am in a gaggle of runners where a couple ladies I overtook and beat in the Turkey Trot are having payback time. I start to question my love of half marathons and contemplate what my favoured or better distance actually is. Well that is easy to answer…….I have no bl—dy idea. It’s weather, hormonal and psychologically variable. I am a woman after all and a woman of a certain age to make it even more complicated.

Mark M-S

We start to retrace our steps along the clay trails and having run this race numerous times this is where I always feel the urge to give up and go home. Some people describe this as a flat race, but that is an optical illusion, every flat on this route has a grind factor built into it, only the definite downhills offer respite. Even Mark M-S comments as he overtakes me, that it’s a race where from whichever direction you run it, it is always going uphill, a gentle hill, but upwards all the same.

I manage to maintain a reasonable pace, checking my Garmin from time to time, but there will be no PB today. The last mile has arrived and before long its back over the A30 and onto the road that takes us to where the race started and a right turn downhill before turning left into the car park of the Working Men’s Club. I can sense that there is someone chasing from behind due to heavy breathing and shouts of encouragement from supporters. I manage to sprint to the line and cross it just under a minute slower than last year. The male behind me crosses and then proceeds to follow me along the finishing tunnel on all fours with the ladies taking the bib numbers shouting “I can’t see your number”. He was too knackered to even register what was being said. Thankfully I wasn’t that bad, but my left leg was protesting.

I am given a bottle of water by a young lady which I gratefully receive then collect my royal blue polo shirt race memento and chocolate caramel and nougat bar. This bar is similar to a brand that helps you “work rest and play”, but obviously this variety will not offer any effect similar to this, but it tasted rather scrummy washed down with my flask of fresh coffee that I brought from home.

I spend an hour nattering/flirting with men of a certain age in the club house awaiting the presentations and before long I am awarded 2nd place in my age cat behind Jayne Angilly. I am given a bottle of Chardonnay as my prize but this one won’t be crossing my lips unless I poach a Brace of Pheasants in it. Can someone pop out and get me a bottle of Portuguese wine please?

1.    Car parking was plentiful and well organised.

2.    The Race HQ the same as always. Cramped at the start on a wet day but fine otherwise.

3.    Toilets adequate for the race numbers with queues that moved quickly but no showers.

4.    The race route is sapping due to humidity in August but it’s as flat as you will find in Cornwall. 50% trail and  50% road but trail shoes are not required.

5.    No medal this year for the finishers but we all received a royal blue polo shirt as the race memento and a small chocolate bar.

6.    Will I run this race again? Well I said no after the second time I ran it, but with races in short supply in August, no doubt I will.

7.    Ooops I nearly forgot the race marshals. They were as encouraging to us all as ever and you had no way of getting        lost. Plus all the water stations appeared to be running like clockwork.