22 July 2012 and it was a return to my home town and the place I ran my very first road race at the age of 13 in 1989! Frome was holding its first ever half marathon and I wanted to be there to take part on home soil. My brother, Dave, was also on the starting line as he still resides in the town and the route near enough went past his front door. Also, my inspiration for the marathon, Ray Warren, was signed up for the 10K. On the day Ray had to withdraw for health reasons, but in his 70’s, even being prepared to run it is fantastic.
The race started at Frome Town Football Ground and took in a loop round the Stonebridge estate on the north side of the town for the first couple of miles. Our start was delayed by approx’ 15 minutes due to something on the course – leaving us all to swelter as it was a hot summers day – ironically summer decided to arrive just in time for the race. Two other friends had lined up for the race – Esther Doel – whom has run Bath and Bristol Half Marathon amongst others, and Debs Brant – a fellow Beverley AC runner but there with her second club, Wootton Bassett Harriers. The latter blaming me for entering and then bringing another four runners with her!
Finally we started at 11.15am. I headed off at a great early pace – but made little impression as I ran past my nephew, Josh, 2 miles in. The first of what was to be a lot of climbs was just after this heading past my brother’s street and my sister in law and her son in law and grandchildren, Lesley, Adrian, Lily and Lola. However, they nearly missed me as I was just behind a super fit triathelete dressed up as Peppa Pig. I had thought they were waving at me but then realised it was Peppa Pig getting the attention!
I remained behind the Peppa pig man as we climbed up past the church I attended for 19.5 years – Frome Wesley Methodist, and round Critchell, where Simon, Rachel, Megan and Thomas gave us encouragement with a great homemade banner – Rachel sacrificing her birthday to support - before we passed 5 miles on the drop out towards the village of Nunney. The half way point was as we entered the village and I was on for a personal best still, despite the heat and undulating course and still being behind Peppa pig! We turned right as we went through Nunney as past the historic Castle with its original moat and another hill. This one slowed me and a toilet stop on the brow resulted in my pace not recovering. The next couple of miles took in a slower gradual climb to Wanstrow, where we finally had a break and some downhill. Despite losing some pace I was still within grasp on a PB, but not in sight of Peppa Pig!
The sun was also looming large as the mercury climbed as much as the route seemed to. Approaching mile 10 we had Egford hill to contend with – and it beat me (no pun intended – egg- beat!) A couple of walks to get me up the hill and on the brow and 10 mile marker had 22 minutes to beat my best time. This showed me how much I’d been ahead of target for the first half but also maintained a better pace than I’d realised until the hill. We dropped back towards the town centre and along part of what was once the Frome Fun run route (albeit in the opposite direction). As I neared Wesley again I was cheered on by Ray, my eldest brother John (his first appearance roadside!), with his children, Joseph, Demelza and Tegen, and friend Margaret Speddings of Wesley days.
Down through the Town Centre and another climb to head back to the 12 mile point and more friends – including my former youth leader, Jill Warren (Ray’s wife). I had 5 minutes something to do 1.1 miles and a PB – wasn’t going to happen! Back past Lesley, Adrian and girls – who spotted me this time – Peppa Pig having long since been through! The final mile was a struggle still – a quick stretch stop with half mile to go and a final push for the last climb – yes another one literally to the finish line which was atop the brow of a hill by the football ground! To finish in 1:38:05 in 27C on what I consider my hardest half marathon course to date was in fact an achievement. The problem was I’d clearly had too much sleep – 7 hours – compared to the 3.5 before my PB in the Humber Bridge Half Marathon 5 weeks earlier!
I say this as both friends, Debs and Esther, came in with PB’s! So no chance I could blame the course or heat so over sleeping was the only reason! David was just beaten by Debs – but hadn’t targeted a fast time but to complete the course on home soil. In fact, the race was brilliantly organised – road closures all the way round and well marshaled and supported. For a first time they’d done s brilliant job.
We followed the race with a quick chat with some of the friends before a BBQ at Dave’s for the family as well as Esther, before I headed to London for my three weeks volunteering at the Olympics. Massive thanks to all the friends mentioned for their support on route – I will be back next year in the hope I sleep less and can keep up with Peppa Pig!
On the way to the finish in the last mile
Dave coming round at approx mile 3
Near mile 3 chasing Peppa pig
With, from left, Rachel, Esther (me), Dave, Megan (back turned) and Si at the end of the race
Deb’s after her PB and her club doing rather well on prizes as well with the first lady