DK’s Basingstoke half marathon report

A year has passed since I first did the Basingstoke Half. My memory of it has polarised itself to:

  • It was 40 degree Celsius as we climbed the mountains,
  • I was unfit, and
  • I paced it so badly that I walked bits.

The last two bits are very true. And it was in the high 20s (up to 28 or 29 degrees per some reports). The mountains are a bit of an exaggeration but there were some long hills. And a steep ones too. Last year I did 1:47 and I was disappointed.

Today it was good old fashioned October cold. With foggy. And the late 11am start was very easy on the alarm clock.

As I walked into the stating pen, I saw Patricia.  Then, when I found my place to start, there was a bit of a cafaful when a Kenyan runner climbed over the fence of a pub to get to the start. This saved him from trying to go through 1,500 or so people but got someone from the pub quite upset. The Kenyan’s minder got into a bit of an contratante with the man from the pub (who gave the impression he would win any fight, but would not be the first to volunteer to run to one). So while that set-too was happening, I called over the Kenyan lady who was looking on and helped her over the fence. It was very clear that to win a race like this (which they both did) you have to be very light. And the Kenyan couple were.

So, bin bag off, race starts, walk a bit to the timing mat and then run. And then realise that I should have placed myself a bit higher in the field as I had to skedaddle between some of the slower runners. A few minutes later we turned on the road to Cliddesden and I was in a happy place, running along with a few people around me. As I have not done any fast running recently, I was unsure of my pace. A few people came past me, moved further away but everything was hunky dory.

Coming into Cliddesden, I remembered that I liked all the people cheering. The kids who were so chuffed, the parents who were supportive, but wary of their kids being squished, and the grandparents who clapped and cheered like the Olympics had come to town.

The duck pond at Cliddesden (mile 2) is the start of the up hill, gentle at first and then, when it gets to the trees around mile 3 it gets much steeper. I managed my pace well, keeping it down at the start and then a little harder towards the top. One person overtook me looking strong. Another over took and looked strong as he went past some friends on the side, then he started walking. As we got over the top of the hill I felt good. And I knew there were downhills to come.

I gained ground on the steep downhill on a couple of people, only to be caught by one of the guys on the steeper uphill as I managed to keep my pace in check. There is then a long downhill for about a mile and a quarter until mile 6 and so pushed a bit faster and caught a few more people. I had my only gel here. Then a short bit of flat before the next uphill. I now remembered the supporters here, mostly older people, and then on the turn before the uphill there were loads of people.

This hill starts of gentle and gets steeper, and steeper towards the top. You then turn left and it carries on going up a bit more. This is where I think I went particularly wrong with my pacing. So this year, I took it steadier up the start of the hill and ran past the Fox pub (great crowd support) and then someone from Basingstoke’s running club went by (I’d overtaken him on the long downhill) just as we got to the steeper bit. I used that as a signal to increase my pace a bit and stayed with him. He told me about the route and said that he’d been sick twice already. After another 30 seconds or so, he stopped and made that three.

Bedlam Bottom (aka “the big dipper”) came next. It’s a really steep downhill followed by an equally steep up hill. But the fog meant that I couldn’t see much of the uphill. I gained a bit on a couple of people on the downhill and noticed that my feet were slipping forward in my shoe a bit too much. But then it was very steep. I definitely got the pace going up the big dipper wrong last year (trying to impress Fiona and others who were camped out near the top_ and this time I again checked the effort. One of the guys overtook me on the steep uphill, but I soon caught him on the gentle uphill that follows. I then saw a few people I knew: one outside his cottage, another outside her house and then Mark Sherwood from the tri club who was marshaling at mile 9.

From there on in, its (almost) all downhill or flat. Four miles of it. And it starts with a 10 per cent downhill. So I was running very fast down it and that meant my feet were again slipping forward in the shoe. It hurt my tummy going that fast downhill. I looked at my watch and it told me my pace was something like 3:03 mins per km. Sub 5 min mile pace! That might have been the fastest bit, or it may have been my watch getting it wrong, but I was definitely hurting!

As I was going downhill, there were four runners about 50m ahead of me who were running at roughly the same pace as me and they were catching and overtaking people too. One of these runners had a blue t-shirt on. I was in my own world of pacing and so they were just people ahead of me, rather than a target or someone to latch on to. Then it was back to Cliddesden and the fantastic crowd support.

At mile 12, I got closer to this group and just before the park only the guy with the blue t-shirt was ahead of me. I overtook him with about 700m to go and as I went passed I said something that was supposed to encourage him and he turned around and it was Ian Stewart, who is a fantastic runner. I said a swear word out aloud. I have always thought the he was a different class of runner to me, miles, miles better than me and I just could not believe that it was Ian.

Ian ran next to me on the path and we, obviously, both increased our pace around the park. At one stage you go over a muddy bit of grass and around there I remember saying to Ian that I could not keep this pace up and that he should go ahead. I eased off a fraction and he didn’t go ahead. The last couple of minutes now turned into pain. As Ian is such a good runner, I fully expected him to keep pace with me and then beat me on a sprint finish. I worked harder than I could ever have imagined. I didn’t say anything to the wonderful crowd who cheered me on. I was confident that the pain was showing in my face and I made no effort to hide it.

Then it was off the path and onto the grass for the last 100m or so. I went as hard as I could, knowing that I would be overtaken at the finish by Ian. I was in a world of pain. So I even did one of those dips. But I wasn’t overtaken.

I felt like I was a runner. I had just ran the best race that I could have done. And I was elated.

Chip time: 1:32:05. Wow.

October club meeting

Just a reminder that our next meeting is on Friday 7th October at 8pm at the Bounty Cricket Club.

We look forward to seeing you there! Please feel free to bring anyone you know who may be interested in tri or related sports.

Finally, good luck to all those running the Basingstoke Half on Sunday. Wear sunscreen – its gonna be a hot one!

Sometimes you have to rely on your family

This is my favourite photo of today’s social ride to The Pub With No Name for lunch.  We did around 56 miles in the end and towards the end of it one of the hills got a little tough for an old man and so he had to rely on his young daughter to help him up the hill.  Daryl has asked that he do not include his name in the caption and so we haven’t…

Here are some more photos…












“No, I am only doing the half” – Dead Keen’s 50 mile North Downs Way race report

What a great day!  I did the North Downs Way 50 mile run yesterday in 10:31.  My first ultra.

The organisation was great, marshals and people at the aid stations were very friendly and the route was well marked. A great set-up.

Physically, I found it quite tough. Mentally, I found it easy. My favourite line when people asked me if I was doing the 100 miles was, “No, I am just doing the half”. What a profoundly stupid thing to say. But I liked saying it.

I also worked out that madness is a matter of degree. Some people at work think I am mad using the stairs to go up one floor, let alone two. I think that the people who ran to my finish, and then turned around to go back to the start are mad. And I am glad they are. It made me feel normal.

So 50.3 miles in 10:31. I was impressed how I did. I finished each of the legs of to the aid stations strongly and confidently. Then I walked slowly, out of the aid station, eating something, letting it go down before starting to run slowly, before getting quicker and quicker (but quicker is a very relative term).

I found the bit either side of the Box Hill aid station to be hard.  My tummy felt a bit upset in the few miles coming up to Box Hill.  Then after the aid station there is Box Hill itself.  It is high and steep.  And there are lots of steps to climb.  Lots.

My calves cramped a little every now and then on the run. This was normally after climbing up a steep bit (like Box Hill)  and then starting running again. It was not the whole muscle but, I imagined, more an area the size of a ten pence piece. Normally, I could refocus on my running style and it went away. A couple of times I stopped and lent against a tree to stretch it out.

I got lost twice. Once going through some woods where a path forked. I chose up hill but after 50m I didn’t see any of the red and white tape and so I turned back and chose the other path. Once I went on the wrong side of a field boundary (took the wrong gate) and had to climb over a couple of barbed wire fences to get back.

It was really nice running with other people. Everyone was very friendly. Running with someone else at one stage was really helpful. I was feeling tired after about 55k and I ran with him at a pace faster than I thought I was capable of at that stage. That gave me a lot of confidence. However, it made it harder on my mind as sometimes I thought I was slowing him down. And other times I wanted to walk.  After I decided to let him go ahead, I stopped and put some tape on the back of my heels.  The shoes were great to run in but power walking up hill meant that the back of the shoes dug into my heels.

I guess I was a bit disappointed with the scenery. Sometimes it was great.  I remember looking down at a sheep-dog trial from the top of a hill.  Great.  Sometimes, the low cloud stopped the views being as good as they could be.  But often we were running in woods and so you didn’t have much of a view.  On the last half, you always heard the traffic on the motorways but that’s more a function of the North Downs Way than anything else though.

Mentally I found the run easy. Not simple. I think the thing that helped me most was to think about the next aid station in terms of time. It’s 18k away. 18 x 8 mins per k is 144 mins. It’s now 12:15 so that gets me at the next aid station at 2:40. 9 mins per k means I’ll be there at 3:00. So I just new I had to run until 3pm. That was so much easier than thinking in terms of distance.

The last 5k turned into a bit of a sprint. After losing quite a bit of time trying to get back on course with the barbed wire, I saw two people about 600m behind me. So I walked less, ran more. About 2k out one of them was a few hundred metres behind me and it turned into a bit of sprint! I was probably running under 9 mins per mile and he was still catching. Then he ran behind me for a bit and wouldn’t overtake. I couldn’t keep the pace up and so when we got to the next gate, I opened it for him, let him through and walked a bit. This was about 300m from the end of the path, 800m from the end.

At the end I got my T-shirt (a nice technical one that for some reason says “2012” rather than “2011”), went to the pub over the road bought a drink and then had a proper wash in their toilets.

One intriguing question I had was could I run back? I think the answer is no. Running through the night on that course would be too hard for me. Could I have gone another 20k? Yes.

Club kit

Hi All,

In stock, I currently have the following pieces of prized Basingstoke Tri Squad kit for you to purchase as a member:

Ladies Long Top, Small  –  £30 ea, 3 off.

Unisex Tri Suits, Medium  – £55 ea, 2 off

Unisex Tri Suits, Large – £55 ea, 2 off

Unisex Tri Shorts (cycle shorts with less padding than normal cycle shorts), Medium – £33 ea, 4 off.

The gear is of fantastic quality as many current users will testify, and I am currently looking in to expanding the range by adding winter cycling tops in the same design.

Please get in touch if you are interested in purchasing, and helping to promote the Squad.

Many thanks!