Blackmore Vale Half Marathon: “Like running in a refrigerated wind tunnel”

BR before Blackmore Vale 2018It’s known as one of the coldest, chilliest half-marathon races around – and a perfect test race for the London Marathon: the Blackmore Vale Half-Marathon. In it’s 26th year, the road half-marathon attracted 395 runners this morning, 9 of them being Bridport Runners: Kazy, Wendy, Amy, Ray, Chris, Sam, Ben, Adam and Hagen. And despite freezing temperatures and serious competition, they all did very well, with Ben coming in as fastest Bridport Runner 8th overall in a time of 1 hrs. 18 min and 44 sec., knocking off 5 seconds from his Blackmore Vale time in 2014. The race was the second in Bridport Runners’ new Club Championship. Sam, who was using this race as a training towards London and who started here for the first time, moans a bit about the temperatures in his following race report, but apart from that describes it spot-on. [Please note a tendency for inaccuracies in his report]. The forecast said minus 7 windchill, but it more more like minus 27 – head-achingly cold, nose-bleedingly cold, or in Ben’s case hand-bleedingly, as he managed to slice his palm open on a malevolent plastic bottle before the race start – “tis but a flesh wound” was the retort when concern was expressed …

Anyway, enough pleasantries, it was the annual freeze your #### off day for the Blackmore Vale Half marathon (BVH) … as I believe Les said, “its like running up a mountain at the North Pole”. Still, we are, as you all know, made of sterner stuff and nine of us braved this event – some even without the offer of a ‘pub lunch with Hagen’ afterwards.

Now, you know most races have a mix of people who are pretty serious, those who just like running and those in the ‘fun run’ category … well the BVH has NO FUN runners, and there are those who might say it was NO FUN!! It was all serious minded, club runners – you know the types, they have headscarves, and gel packs stuck all over their body in places that you didn’t think it was possible to stick a gel pack … They compare PBs, they debate shoes, they analyse the efficacy of compression tights (oh hang on, that’s me). Any how, it’s a pretty serious gig, I can tell you.

(TIP OF THE DAY: If you want a piece of the nice chocolate cake which you know won’t be there at the end, buy it at the start and ask the nice ladies to put it by for you.)

So, we had Ben, and Kazy (with Chris and Max) and Ray and Adam and Amy and Chris M, and Hagen and Wendy and me, a jolly crowd ready to take on the world. Before the race was largely not worth relating – toilet queues, deep heat (what is it with Deep Heat, do people think it makes them run better?), toilet smells and bad coffee. Now, if you know the race there is a downhill sprint (which you have to come up again at the end) and then more ups and downs than a frickin’ rollercoaster. The route does a circle of the wind-swept vale which I think would be rather pretty in the spring (hint hint organisers). The Marshalls are taciturn but not unfriendly and the drinks station people can’t multitask, but it all seems to work.

Ben flew off like the wind at the start and wasn’t seen again until long after his awesome 1:18 finishing time and 8th place overall. Big high five there! Slater and I ran the first mile together then I sent him packing, last seen overhauling my nemesis from Purbeck Hamish Murray (nice one, Adam) and came in at fantastic 1:26, but 32nd overall – which just emphasises how bloody good the field was.

I thought that I was on for a safe 3rd for Bridport Runners, having completely stuffed up my intention of running at London marathon pace (pah, London marathon pace – I spit on your grave), and played slipstreaming with some Dorset Doddlers. Then at 12 miles Mr Chris Monteith popped up, having reeled me in and made a break for glory… Nice one, Chris, who in fact helped me up the hill when Wynn’s rile had kicked in and I was close to tasting the Gu gel on the way up as well as way down!

However, all was good and we both came in on 1:35, 83rd and 84th respectively (him first) – got to be pleased with that. After that, Amy stormed home in an awesome 1hr 48 mins, and Hagen followed at 1hr 54. Kazy and Wendy both came in at an excellent 1hr 57 and Ray came in at a creditable 2:15 – nice one, Raymundo!

So all in all a great showing by tiny Bridport Runners against the MIGHT of Bournemouth AC, Poole Runners and other bigger clubs from ‘other places’. Oh, and I hope lunch was good, Hagen – my chocolate cake was outstanding!