I hadn't run Bristol Half since 2011 for various reasons so it was nice to not only by asked by Chris Britton (he of many of my other challenges!) if I would run it as his Dad hoped to for his 60th birthday year, but I was down in the area for my eldest brother, John (aka Syd)'s 50th birthday the day before. My eldest brother decided he didn't wish to mark 50 years with 13.1 miles the first thing to do in the second half of his century and Chris' Dad, Steve, ended up unable to run, but I still lined up with Chris and around 15,000 others!
Amongst them was Chris' sister, Vicky, running her first half, and my cousin, Nancey - back from an injury earlier in the year. That also brought my Uncle Derek along to support us. Nancey and I had lined up in the city centre 11 months earlier when we ran the Bristol to Bath Marathon, which follows much of the half marathon route for the first 8 miles.
Bristol Half Marathon 2016
The rain decided to make an appearance as we walked from the cars to the starting area - enough to be noticeable and feel a bit wet. Despite this, we got stripped into our running gear and joined the thousands lined up for the start. Bristol starts in 4 waves to help manage the numbers. Nancey was wave 2 so Chris and I said farewell as we headed for the first wave which started 8 minutes earlier. Off we went and despite the crowds managed a sub 7 minute mile straight away. Chris was on fire and I'd lost him by mile 2 as we headed along the Portway under the Clifton Suspension Bridge and through the Avon Gorge. As we turned and headed back Nancey and I spotted each other going in opposite directions at around 5.5/3 miles in respectively just before a brief downpour soaked us!
The route is unchanged since 2001 and runs back up the river Avon on the Cumberland Basin before turning up past St Mary's Redcliffe at mile 9. As we headed round the roundabout I spotted Uncle Derek - who gave a cheer. I was doing OK and still had the potential of a PB, though I had dropped most miles on the previous one. Most the climbing there is in mile 10 and this didn't slow me much more than I had been dropping. With 2 miles left I had around 14 minutes for a PB. Doable - I felt I could push a bit to up my speed. I passed Chris as I headed round into Queen's Gardens and he was heading out. I knew he wouldn't be getting a PB from my quick estimates of time and distance but he was still doing very well.
I missed the 12 mile sign but when my GPS went off (which was nearly 0.1 miles ahead of the route) I realised just under 6 minutes for a mile was not on the cards. I still pushed through the last mile, which includes a long loop around the centre and St Augustine's Parade before coming through to the finish on Anchor Road by LLoyd's Amphitheatre. Unknowingly, friend, Mark Frazer, spotted me as I went by - and as I offered t o help a runner who looked likely to pass out in the manner Jonny Brownlee nearly did in the previous week's ITU World Triathlon Final. However, my Alistair Brownlee heroics offer was shunned - leaving me to cross the line in 1:35:51 - a minute slower than my time 3 weeks earlier. (It turns out he shunned several others and the guy who did end up aiding him over the line was from the same club).
Chris had finished in just over 1 hour 28 mins and Nancey came in at 1:54:59. No PB's but a good run for all of us along a well supported route. I enjoyed being back at this event, even if I still hate the 7 miles out and back along the Portway. We concluded with tea and cake in a nearby cafe - once we'd got hold of Uncle Derek and he found us!
Chris, Lucas & Nancey before joining the starting line
Lucas & Chris after finishing with the SS Great Britain in the background
Reunited with Nancey & Uncle Derek over coffee & cake