MK Winter Half Marathon
It would seem that a remarkable thing happened on Sunday. When you get a whole load of people out running an event there are often lots of good performances, but there's usually one or two shockers where the people concerned are somewhat disappointed with their run. I am not aware however, that any of the 17 people who raced the 13.1 miles around MK on Sunday weren't happy with their efforts.
It was certainly a chilly morning, with the mercury hovering around the 5o marker with a bit of westerly breeze coming in too, however, the cloudy skies made it feel much warmer than the parkrun the day before at the same location. It was one of those days where you really didn't want to run in just the basics, but if you were brave enough it was fine.
A few of us had done the inaugural MK Winter Half last year and there was a remarkable transformation in terms of how the event looked and the organisation involved for the 2014 version – for the better I might add. There was a slight delay at the start, but that didn't seem to annoy too many people and in no time at all we were off on the first small loop around Newlands before joining the canal for the first time.
The route is run almost entirely on the Redways and leisure paths of the town that includes a few miles along the canal, a few miles on the old railway line that used to connect Wolverton and Newport Pagnell, a few more along the river and round Lodge lake and Teardrop lakes before a lumpy three miles across town back to the canal and the finish.
I don't think anyone would really describe it as a hilly route, but there were lots of short rises for bridges and underpasses. Personally I found it to be very twisting with lots of sharp corners that seemed to break my stride, but no-one else really noticed so maybe it's just me whinging unnecessarily because I knew it all so well and had nothing else to moan about.
It was great to have so many supporters out on the route too, which included the Haylock grandparents (thanks to Bill for all the photos on facebook), Mrs Inchley Senior, Mandy Clay, Elliot, Erin with her godmother and Gary Blaber from MKAC.
In terms of the racing, we had four ladies out on the day and some great performances were put in. Nikki Elvin has barely run all year, but a kickstart in Lanzarote with four races in four days meant that she is getting back into the swing of things and she was very pleased to earn a couple of beers reward after getting round in just over 2 hours. Fiona was delighted to get on the other side of two hours after a fantastic last mile along the canal as her fastest giving her 1:59:05. This also constituted a new club record for an F45, so very well done indeed Fi.
Katie Haylock was a little nervous about her longest run since 2009 but ran a very consistent race to average just over 8mpm and hopefully gain some confidence to progress into some marathon training in the new year as she finished in a big PB of 1:46:42. The ladies club champion on the day was Amy, who seems to be getting back towards her form of last spring. Her 1:35:52 is her second best half marathon (in the UK) and was built on some consistent pacing, with all but the big downhill in the twelfth mile being within 15 seconds of each other. It was also particularly pleasing for Andy as she overtook Gareth (Andy's colleague who ran for us in the final CCCL last year) with a couple of miles to go to finish as the 13th female.
The final one of the men's finishers was Richard who was very pleased with his 1:52:16 as he was thinking he'd be nearer to 2 hours, but with V70 on the horizon there are all sorts of club records up for grabs in August next year! I didn't speak to Fred afterwards so don't really know how he felt about his run, but his training this year has been a somewhat up and down so 1:50:41 is probably an okay time all things considered.
One of the closet Buzzard battles on the day was between Nick and Gary. Nick is constantly nursing injuries these days and Gary has had a particularly tough time recently, but they were never more than 30 seconds apart with Nick leading out and Gary closing the gap before just outsprinting the old boy in the final straight as they both ducked under 1:32.
As a club, we had nine athletes that managed to break 1:30 on the day and probably the most pleased about that was Sam Dear. Sam's previous PB was 1:37:27 from the Great North run in 2011, but since being run over in January has gone from strength to strength and his 1:29:38 represented reward for some solid training over a fair few months. Just a minute ahead of Sam was Warren, who saves all of his best performances for MK as this was just a minute outside his best, set in MK in 2013 and he was delighted to be so close to that time.
Tom Inchley has put in a request for a new club championship. "Can we have a race where you run as fast as you can off training no more than twice a week?". The answer is no, but if there was one, a 1:25:35 half would probably be pretty near the front. Young Timothy is now officially an old 'un but after 18 months of pretty consistent training and a regular attendee at the MKAC interval sessions and doing lots more races he is seeing some rewards. Unbelievably, he actually set a new PB, beating his 1:25 from Watford in 2002 to finish in 1:23:08 with all of his miles within 14 seconds of each other.
Adam Haylock has really improved over the course of 2014, and is now getting a taste for the slightly longer races. This effort was his second half marathon PB in two weekends, having run Bedford last week and he was over the moon to be approaching 1:20. 1:21:17 is about a 4 minute improvement of Stevenage last year, which was his first one after he joined the club.
There was a bit of a battle for 2nd and 3rd in the club champs between Andy, Jordan and Simon. Simon started steadily and didn't catch Andy until 3 miles in but then moved ahead and ran with Jordan until 8, which was around the same time that Andy caught them both. They had half a mile together before Simon started to smell the finish and left the other two in his wake in pursuit of the top 10. It was Jordan that took the bronze medal though as the two remaining worked together to gain a few places themselves before the youngster got away in the last half mile as they finished 14th & 16th respectively.
They were pretty good results all around though, as Simon ran quicker than he had hoped to and closed out very strongly with 1:16:05 to finish 8th, Jordan set a first ever U20 club record for the half marathon with 1:17:45 at the age of 17 and Andy ran his second quickest time ever of 1:17:53 and was delighted to average under 6mpm.
At the front of the LBAC field though was Pete Mackrell. He started positively and never looked back, although if he had he may have seen Simon closing in rather rapidly at the end! His 1:15:48 earned him 7th place in the race and although it was a minute slower than Stevenage last year I think the course is probably worth that alone. There was also a bit of a gap to the runner in front so did a lot of solo racing which is always tougher.
So all in all it was a great morning's running for the LBAC representatives and we were rewarded with a nice bespoke medal and t-shirt for our efforts. That's just about it in terms of the club championships for 2014, but we do start 2015 with the cross-country down at Hughenden Manor so don't have too many mince pies over Christmas.