Stafford Half Marathon – 20th March 2011

Linda Howell reports: Four Bournville Harriers took part in the Stafford Half Marathon on 20th March.

Simeon Payne, Mike Scotney, Terry Doherty and me lined up for the 10am start (once Mike and I had realised that we really should have checked our information and known that the start was slightly different to previous years, hey ho). Simeon, Mike and me set off together and we soon lost Simeon to the fast guys up ahead.

Mike and I ran along together around a cone and back around the outskirts of the town while trying to recall when the big hill was. To be honest, it was tough, but not as bad as I remembered, and there was a well placed water station when you got to the top at around mile 3.

From then on the route is best described as undulating; a long decent was followed by bridges and a few ups and downs. Three years ago I raced this as part of my London Marathon training and was so set on the time, I forgot to appreciate the scenery. After mile 3 you are in lovely countryside, you pass through villages and hamlets with the residents out supporting.

At around mile 9 you find yourself running down the side of a main road, it’s flat, and it’s dull, but it doesn’t last forever. Just after the 10 mile mark where you’re telling yourself that there’s only 5km to go, the race transfers onto a disused railway. It’s a slight incline back into Stafford, but the terrain is good, the support is better and before you know it the 12 mile marker is upon you.

From there it’s a lovely run down the side of the river (if you ignore the rather heavy breathing chap who passed me, and that this was where Mike left me for dust having been behind me since mile 3).

Turning into the town, heavy breathing guy went for a sprint finish, shame for him that I knew you do a bit of a route around it. I kept Mike in my sights and tried to hang onto him. We finished within about 30 secs of each other, and both under 1:30 by our watches 😀

It’s a really well organised race, a fantastic course that gets the hardest bits out of the way in the first half, technical t-shirts for your efforts, great marshalling, well placed water stations, convenient parking and above all a great atmosphere.

Full results (PDF)

Some pics by Brian Smith here.

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