Anglesey Half Marathon 2018: Race review

After my rapid-fire blogging during December, unfortunately things have shuddered to a halt. It’s been mostly due to work, both on my existing clients and on setting up FN Trail Running Cheshire, but I had intended to continue to write. Oh well.

Anglesey Half Marathon – no need for an introduction!

My visit to the Anglesey Half Marathon in 2018 is actually my 5th time at this race. I’ve done Wilmslow five times and the Stockport 10 six times, so it may not be a great surprise that this is my favourite road race. I’ve only missed two AHMs in total; I didn’t know about it for the inaugural 2012 race, and I was working that day in 2014. But I’ve been there every other time!

Whilst I would normally do a step-by-step race review, to be honest, I’ve covered it several times before. I still love this event and really I can’t think of a huge amount more to say about it. Other than it’s one you should include in your race calendar.

Anglesey Half Marathon 2018 – build up

2018 saw a big challenge to the organisers. Here in the UK we don’t really do ‘winter’ in the way that most of the planet does; it goes a bit more rainy than normal and it gets a bit cold. The UK’s winter is often best described as ‘Meh’ in the grand scheme of weather.

However, the UK has seen an unusual amount of snow over the past week and it’s been a bit chillier than normal. I’d describe it like this:

Some areas have been seriously affected by drifting snow and it’s made travelling difficult/impossible. Supermarkets have run out of bread. It’s something we don’t generally get in the UK and we’re pretty rubbish at dealing with it.

But as a result of a lot of snow and ice this week, a significant number of events have been cancelled or postponed for the safety of marshals and participants.

Warning – A bit of a rant

If you’re wondering, I’ve put that order down intentionally.

You see as soon as an organiser makes a call on an event for safety, the powers of social media tend to result in a vast amount of whining and tub-thumping against whatever that decision is, or upon what basis it has been made.  Whether it being that Lyme Park is closed (because it’s 3 foot deep in snow and some of the trees have come down), or that a race has been cancelled, some people are very quick to criticise. Shouts of ‘they never closed for weather when I was young’ or very similar rattle around Facebook et al which is very unfair on organisers who have to look at a bigger picture of safety.

For Always Aim High Events (AAHE), the organiser of the Anglesey Half Marathon, it was, ironically the opposite that seemed to be the problem. You see Anglesey has it’s own micro-climate, being where it is relative to the mainland and to the Snowdonia National Park. Generally the weather is less severe; yes it can blow a hooley down the Menai Straights and that is a nightmare on the HM route! But actually Anglesey saw very little snow at all. AAHE kept the world informed about the weather situation via social media, and were able to confirm that the race could safely go ahead. Because there was no snow on the route and that there was none forecast. They’re based on Anglesey, so they are in a position to make that call.

Sadly there was a fuss on social media suggesting they were irresponsible for letting the race go ahead? Even though locally it was safe.

Ultimately organisers in this situation cannot win. Somebody will moan regardless of a decision. I have been involved in local event organising in the past I’m aware just how much work goes into it. It’s just a shame that some people don’t grasp this. I appreciate that people are unhappy that they can’t get to an event, but is that a justification to cancel? Over 1100 people safely got to the HM today and ran – should they have been denied that race for the reasons given above? That’s a rhetorical question.

Anglesey Half Marathon – my race

Rant over, let’s get on to today’s event!

Pre-amble

As per usual, I stayed overnight in a hotel as it’s a 9am race start. Whilst it is drivable on the day, it does make for a very early start. The wind was still strong over night but by this morning it had subsided significantly. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at my best this morning. I woke up with a thundering headache which was more annoying because I didn’t know why. And my stomach was not very happy either.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been watching my diet very carefully, trying to make sure that I’m eating sensibly so that I don’t increase my risk of dodgy-runner-race-tummy syndrome. OK I’ve made that diagnosis up, but you get the picture, and it’s not a very nice picture!!!! And today along with the sore head, this was posing a challenge even before I left the hotel.

Still we got to the start line and sent our bags off ready for post-race collection.

Lyme Runners at the start!

Lyme Runners at the start!

Actually the porta-loos at the start line were struggling; perhaps it wasn’t just me that had a dodgy tum!!!

At just after 9am, we were off! Here’s the route.

We’re off

I’ve learned over the 5 years that I’m better starting with runners of the same pace as the Menai Bridge does get congested. Unfortunately that still involved having to dodge around slower runners who had decided to start up front, but no issues occurred to my knowledge. We were soon off and disappearing under the Bridge along the sea-front at Menai Bridge (the village).

Having not had the most ‘cohesive’ training period this year, and nursing a stomach that threatened to go bang, I just settled in with those runners about me. I had to dodge a few who had their headphones in and weren’t paying attention to what was going on around them, but once onto the main Beaumaris road, there’s plenty of room for all.

The wind was Easterly, which meant the outward leg was into a headwind. On the whole it wasn’t that bad. My split-times were fine but I wasn’t feeling that great. I was hoping there may be a porta-loo en route, but I didn’t see one!

Although the route undulates throughout the first 4 miles, there is a short climb at the half-way point. And whilst I kept going, I was under the constant fear of stomach malfunction. That was hard work and the slowest I’ve done that section in years. But then a gentle downhill back towards Beaumaris to help nurse the situation.

The middle section of the race is on open-roads (hence the ban on headphones) and there was a short section where there was a run of traffic. At this point there were runners on both carriageways and it was a bit frustrating to see how some drivers – and some runners behaved in this section. I was on the pavement and out of harm’s way 🙂

Return to base!

Whilst my 7th mile was slow, I picked up the pace again all the way back into Beaumaris. Actually the route here was slightly different to normal as we didn’t go right up to the RNLI station, cutting that corner off the route. Oddly it didn’t seem to impact on the distance!

I was actually contemplating stopping during this point. I wasn’t feeling well and was struggling a bit in all honesty. I’ve come a cropper on the section between 10-12 miles before as it has a couple of short climbs during it. However, I kept going and in fact began to feel stronger as I continued. Clearly the gels I’d taken at the start of the race had found their way into my system! There was a line of HM runners ahead, although it began to get more difficult to see as the 10k route merged into it, with many more runners suddenly on the road. Again, not a problem, but it was harder to see who you were chasing down.

At the 12 mile sign I knew it was downhill to the finish and was able to relax a little bit. Although having got to the finish it was  straight to the nearest porta-loo, for which I can only apologise!

I finished a little slower than in previous years, but still within the 90 minutes so I was happy with that, especially given the circumstances. Having checked my results, it’s still my 3rd fastest half-marathon! In fact I’ve felt pretty rough all afternoon, so whether it’s a bug or something that I’ve eaten I’m not sure. But hopefully all will be well ahead of my next race, which is less than a fortnight away!

 

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