The first weekend in March heralds the Anglesey Half Marathon. Whenever I’ve been asked, it’s this race which is the top of my favourites.
I’ve reviewed this event in the past, but each year there’s more to say about an event, and to be fair, it would be rude to ignore my favourite race.
Anglesey Half Marathon – route
The race is entirely run on roads / tarmac. About 2/3rds of the course is traffic free which makes for a much better experience. To be fair, the 1/3rd that isn’t is pretty rural in the most part. I think it was only when we rejoined the main road that any cars passed as at all. In fairness, I think this is due to the other closures which force non-local traffic away from Beaumaris.
The race starts on the Bangor side of the Menai Bridge (the Telford Suspension bridge). Having crossed over to Anglesey, the route winds through the backstreets of Menai Bridge village before joining the main A545 at 1 mile. The route then follows the main road into Beaumaris, and through the town centre passing the historic castle. The runners then continue along the main road before taking the country lanes through Llanfaes where the only ‘hill’ of the course resides. It’s then back along the A545 coast road into Beaumaris, this time taking in the seafront and RNLI building. Finally, the runners work their way back onto the A545 returning along the closed road to the finish line in Menai Bridge.
The course undulates throughout, especially on the section between Menai Bridge and Beaumaris. Yet it’s a very fast course.
I signed up for the 2017 event as soon as registration opened when the organisers apply a special discount rate. The full price (aside from on the day entry) was £30 which seems to be the 2017 average for road-based half-marathon distance events. I think with the discount it was £25.
There has been a steady increase in the price of half marathon entries which, for me at least, means I am far more choosy about the events I do. At least with the ‘early bird discount’ it keeps this event cheaper than some of the competing ones.
Last year we had near perfect weather conditions. Dry, bright and little wind. This is probably a major factor in my PB that I scored in 2016.
Unfortunately I think the organisers, Always Aim High Events, had spent all their good weather credits last year. Today it rained. A lot. And it was very cold as well!
That said, there was precious little wind so, other than being cold and wet, the running conditions were actually quite good. I managed to sit on the shoulder (not literally) of a Penistone Runner who was going at roughly the pace I wanted. A couple of times he was away ahead of me, and others I was alongside him. With the course having some undulation in the miles 10-12 section, I wanted to make sure I didn’t burn out before the end, so the pacing worked well.
At about 11 miles my involuntary pace runner eased off and I picked up my pace to the end, finishing in a not-too-shabby 1:26:44 in 45th place overall. So 40 seconds slower and 2 places behind last year. Which, given I was able to wring out rainwater from every item of clothing I’d worn during the race, I have no complaints about.
Here’s the Strava output:
The half-marathon has, until this year, been the only running-only event in AAHE’s calendar. And they do it very well. Registration was slick, the race started on time and was marshaled with very enthusiastic people. You can’t ask for much more than that.
For the first time this year, a 10k event was organised to start 40 minutes after the half-marathon. As it was the first time for this, AAHE kept it as a small event. I was concerned when they announced it if the increased number of participants would clog up the area, but in fact things seemed to work fine. I think there’s always a danger where one has a successful event that it can become too big over time and not work so well. Thankfully everything was fine in 2017.
Except for the weather. Which was truly horrible!
This year was the first time the registration was done either by post or on the day. Previously it was done on the Saturday and T-Shirt collection was done at registration. This year the event village in Menai Bridge was better utilised than in previous years. This meant that there was plenty of room to finish, get drinks/snacks and then collect medal and T-Shirt further around. I thought it worked very well.
Local support in the village was excellent too!
No goody bag at this event. Plenty of free snacks and drinks at the finish line, plus a bag of Jones Crisps (the event sponsor), a snack bar, plus the medal and superb T-Shirt. Certainly based on looks and fit, the T-Shirt this year is one of best race T-Shirts I’ve had from any event.
Photography has, as usual, been taken care of by Mel Parry. It’s the evening of the race day and the photo galleries are going up as I type. There’s a good selection of photos and, reading the details, they will be searchable by runner number eventually.
High resolution digital photos cost £10 each which is something of a median amount. It’s probably the absolute maximum I’d personally pay for a running photograph and I’d only pick one to buy as beyond that, it gets too expensive. A tiny low-res picture is £5.
I said at the top that this is my favourite race and, despite being rained on a lot and getting very cold, it still is. The course is interesting, location and scenery beautiful (assuming you can see it through the rain!). Organisation is great and it’s well supported. If you’ve not considered this race before, get it in the diary. If you’ve already done it, it’ll no doubt already be in there.