Report by Hana Clitherow
Sometimes, believe it or not, I am actually lost for words. It doesn’t happen very often, usually at work when some teenager struggles to form a coherent sentence and I stand there with mouth open, hoping that at some point, the jumble of words they have randomly selected off the floor can be joined up into something vaguely comprehensible. Today though, I’m struggling to transmit my thoughts into print so as to provide my two loyal readers with a race report for last Sundays Truro Half Marathon. Maybe I’m still shattered from all the hills? It certainly isn’t from over imbibing at the post-race get together unlike some TRC members. I think I have brain fog and today it is fairly dense!
I wasn’t even sure if I was going to enter this event due to having entered a marathon with a race date falling two weeks before the Truro Half, but I threw caution to the wind and a few clicks on the laptop I was in. I was tempted by the advertised race memento, value for money entry fee, close proximity to home address, fabulous medal plus selective amnesia.
So pre-race preparation consisted of walking over 10 miles the day before, on legs and hips that were still grumpy after the City to Sea Marathon and being attached to someone so old. A meal out at a local wine bar with some hydration products included, but not to excess. An early for me bedtime but not much sleep due to all the sheep I needed to count having been rounded up and put in a barn by another insomniac. And thankfully I checked my race info email for the start time, as I had fixed 10:30 in my mind only to find that it was in fact an hour earlier at 09:30.
With porridge eaten I walk the easy quarter of a mile to the race HQ which this year is housed in the rear lobby area of the Hall for Cornwall facing onto Boscawen Street. The sky is a strange and unfamiliar bright blue in colour and has slight warmth emanating from a yellow object suspended above us like a BBQ heater. I take a photo of this to show my grandchildren in years to come and then locate a gaggle of TRC runners who are sorting team race numbers and shirt sizes out. I am handed mine and then go off to sus out the public toilets as today folks…….there are no green, blue or grey temporary plastic cuboids in which to urinate or ????…No, today we have the council run, free to use and amazingly clean Truro city public toilets.
Now as I have been a resident of Truro for many years and having had small children and a weak post coffee bladder, I have accumulated a very good knowledge of where to Pee for free. So on race day Sunday the Leats Public Toilets were the obvious choice so that is where I headed. Please don’t pass this location on as most runners head for the toilets at either end of Lemon Quay and there is always a queue there. The Leat’s toilets are usually cleaner with good ventilation and many cubicles but ladies; you do have to climb a set of stairs to reach them. Having said that, seeing as you have entered and are waiting to start a HILLY HALF MARATHON, stairs really shouldn’t be a problem, well not until after the race that is! As I walk up King St I spy two other ladies who appear to be travelling in the same direction as myself and they aren’t wearing Truro race vests. Maybe they are readers of my race drivel and hence have insider toilet knowledge?
There is now a growing crowd of expectant runners on Lemon Quay all waiting for the off. Apparently I’ve missed the TRC group photo so someone grabs another. Rob P appears with what can only be described as a Fluorescent “Borat Mankini” attached to his head. If it’s not that then it could well be a ladies Thong from the “Anne Summers running range”. Rob states it is a sweatband, I raise my eyebrows in that “really” expression but he isn’t at all perturbed by our mockery of him.
Liz and Mark T plus myself head for the starting pen and wait the off. “Our Diane” is under the weather so Mark, TRC’s equivalent to a Butlins redcoat, is giving us our pre-race briefing. I have to admit I didn’t listen as well as I should due to chatting and general noise around me. Dave M our race compare has been broadcasting to the world that should any runner be seen wearing headphones then the snipers strategically placed around the route would take them out. Maybe another year we should have a “Paintball” event running alongside just for that purpose. Head/earphone offenders could then be easily spotted as they cross the finishing line due paint splatters adorning their sweaty bodies.
After a 1, 2, 3 we are off with the famous line uttered by Liz T in my ears, “I mustn’t set off too fast” Did either of us follow this mantra? I think not, the cobbled streets of Truro require a little speedy dodging and weaving in order to reach the pavement section at Newham without being too congested. Liz is ahead with me a few feet behind and the first mile passes without any real issues.
The Newham Trail is muddy and I have chosen to wear my multi terrain shoes, which is proving beneficial. They won’t keep the mud and water out or off my legs but they are helping me stay upright. After spending over 5 hours running in the rain two weeks ago, the mud is almost appealing and certainly not by any means as cold. It doesn’t make me want to rush out and book myself in for a Mud Spa experience anytime soon but my tolerance level for this substance has raised from zero to just above. Don’t worry Fergie I won’t be applying to join “Mudcrew” anytime soon.
Where Newham trail joins the lane taking you downhill to Calenick we turn left by the first water station. We then turn left again by a row of cottages where it would appear one runner may have been pushing themselves a little too hard and had left a puddle of semi digested food by the first cottage gate. With nose fully wrinkled I start the first real climb passing Higher Calenick Farm, where the map shows the gradient to be worthy of two chevrons. I don’t walk I just plod along at a slow trot and Liz starts to widen the gap between us both. I have the advantage of much longer legs but on the hills I think shorter legs are far stronger and perform better.
At Porthkea, although the road had levelled out to undulating, we turn right and head ever upwards passing the second water station and then the back of Kea school before bearing left onto a raised pavement where the lovely “Longman Girls” are marshalling and give me a high five. We proceed along Old Coach Road before a little diversion through a garaging section of Penlea Villas and then onto Penhalls Way followed by Halvarras road where I almost have a “Poldark moment”. Two fine Shire type horses are being lead towards me by a male in leather/waxed type coat boots with shoulder length locks of an age that could make an old woman’s heart flutter. Sadly, neither the horses nor the male bat an eyelid as I trot by but it makes me smile.
At the end of Halvarras Road we turn left and join the B3289 heading slightly downwards towards Penelewey, passing the “Punch Bowl and Ladle” pub where once again the opportunity to offer us runners a sample of ale had been missed. When I ran the Prague Half Marathon a couple years ago the cities brewery’s had samples of the local lager out for us to indulge in. There are at least Two English Vineyard races somewhere out of county and the Medoc Marathon that involves Vineyards, wine and fine food. Perhaps we in Cornwall with the abundance of Micro Breweries dotted about the county, could bring about a Beer Marathon??????? I don’t mean the sort that was completed at the TRC post-race get together!
At a cross roads we continue left along the B3289 towards Trelissick and the King Harry Ferry. The road is initially flat then rises a little before we are directed left through some deep soft mud and onto another off road section. The route turns right through some trees where dodging tree roots is advisable and then across a field before dropping down some steps to another water station and the start of a compacted mud bridle/cycle/footpath where the going is firm to soft with some lovely large puddles to either go through or around. At this point Liz is still ahead of me but as we start the very steep downhill section of this path, where sliding onto your rear end is a strong possibility her descending skills and off road shoes came into their own. My centre of gravity, balance and staying upright skills aren’t as good as hers so I decide to slow to a walk initially then as the gradient lessens I pick up speed again. God knows how our cycling outrider stays on his bike when he negotiates this section because if that was me, I’d end up in casualty with a broken nose and minus teeth.
The path crosses a stream which runs under the path so we don’t run through it, then goes steeply upwards on a lumpy stony path, the surface of which changes depending on how much and how heavy any rain has been. Liz is now increasing her lead on me and as we pass Tregew I notice that we don’t appear to be turning right towards Treloggas but are being sent up the road for about 200yds around a cone before retracing our steps and then turning left towards Treloggas.
As my contribution to the Truro Half marathon, “Husband who plays Golf” and I cut the undergrowth on the path that runs from the Barn conversions at Treloggas up to Higher Lanner Farm. This year the brambles, stinging nettles etc. which adorn the hedgerows at this location had been provided with good quality growing weather and so “Husband who plays golf” opted for the petrol hedge cutter whilst I stuck with the garden shears as we rampaged through the shrubbery. The result was aching shoulders, nettle rash, prickles galore, gallons of sweat and a clear route for all you runners and horse riders that use the path to taverse. As I run up this path towards the Higher Lanner farm I admire our handy work and then turn left, back towards Porthkea.
We soon revisit water station No 3 which is now water station no 6 I believe, we are directed left along Carlyon Road where we do a loop around the houses so to speak before heading back onto Old Coach Road and the last three miles of the race. From this point onwards I know that there are no more REAL HILLS to climb just a short nip at Calenick before re-joining the Newham trail and the tiny slope when coming out of the subway and onto Lemon Quay. I feel encouraged by this knowledge and try to set about closing the gap between myself and Liz T.
Liz is just too quick on the downhill section past Kea school but once on the trail I decide to just plough through most of the puddles and mud and gain a few feet on Liz but not much more. I have to say that my usual basking shark facial expression is not ideal where puddle contents are being splashed up and my ingesting them is a strong possibility but somehow I manage to not even swallow a fly let alone a spider to catch the fly. In fact I don’t swallow anything along the whole 13 miles and that includes clean drinking water.
As I lean forward and try to gain some extra speed for the last mile I have drops of sweat falling off my “IQ reducer”. It is acting like Rob P’s “head thong” and absorbing all the moisture my head is producing and deflecting it from my eyes.
Through the subway I run and as Liz crosses the line, I hear people shouting encouragement. They aren’t shouting at me, but at some male who has the audacity to attempt to overtake me on the last 25yds. “Sod that for a laugh” I think and engage my turbo charger. Shit, my power to leg ratio has gone all wrong and my upper body is going faster than my feet. I’m not sure I am going to cross the line upright, but somehow a miracle occurs and embarrassment and blooded knees are avoided. I beat the audacious male. He congratulates me, I shake his hand and my body chastises me for thinking I am more able than I actually am. A lovely Brownie hands me my medal and a Pasty.
I go over and give Liz a hug whether she wants one or not and congratulate her on her brilliant run, then I go in search of my baggage only to find I have 3 missed calls from my elderly mother……she never phones my mobile. In need of a hug, I locate Julie. My mother of 92 had spent the night on the floor having fallen and didn’t want to trouble anyone during the night. The good news is that she is only bruised and pained but thankfully a neighbour came to her rescue. My aching body on the other hand is all self-induced and deserves no sympathy at all.
So all in all:
- Race HQ. Ideal for collecting race no’s but not big enough for people to shelter in should it rain.
- Plentiful, clean with no queues if you know where to go.
- As brilliant as ever offering loads of encouragement.
- Car parking. Plentiful on street or car parks which cost.
- The route. Very rural, some off road but when dry, road shoes are fine. Hills to test your legs so this is not a PB race.
- Race memento. Long sleeve technical T, brilliant medal plus a Cornish pasty.
- Will I run it again? I need at least 11 months to think about this one.
10 out 10 TRC and “our Diane” oh and “8 pin” Colin and Frank.