16 Harriers joined a field of 2065 finishers to run the local half marathon that sits just before London marathon in the calendar, rather than the club road champs that took place earlier in the morning. The weather was good for running prior to the 9:30 start, but the rain came down during the race and the wet conditions were not ideal, but I feel the marathon runners would crave the cool spring weather persists for their races! The field consisted of marathon runners training for upcoming spring marathons and half marathon runners enjoying their race with the lovely thought of supporting those ‘crazy marathoners’ over the next few weeks. Plus quite disconcerting a ‘Gingerbread Man’ standing with us aiming for sub 1:30, and I assume aiming for the Guinness World Record which stood at 1:52.37, but I’m not sure if he beat it and Im happy to say he didn’t pass me so I didn’t get ‘Gingerbreaded’!!
The race commenced on time at 9:30 as we turned onto the Maidstone Road and over the railway bridge (on this pancake flat course this is regarded as a ‘hill’) the field set off towards the town. The field strung out pretty quickly on this predominantly country course and it was easy to settle into a regular pace due to the terrain. Dave Hadaway had kindly advised me to start a bit slower than usual which I had on my mind in the first mile and I held back a little before settling into a sensible PB pace with the hope I could hold it. Behind me John Baldock, after his brilliant run at the Kent GP Folkestone 10 miles 9 days earlier, was embarking on attacking his PB (1:34) which by his standards was very much achievable. Neil Clark was training for his marathon with a controlled hard half and set out at planned even 7 min miles followed by 6:40s. Dave Hadaway was hosting a ‘marathon training masterclass’ with Steve Austin and Geoff Turner in tow and he planned for a 1:36, so his gun time 1:35.58 was pretty acceptable for the Yoda! Richard Quartermaine ran a superb race to take over a minute off his PB in 1:35.28. Richard French and James Horne ran their first half marathons in new age categories and so setting strong benchmarks to aim for in 1:47.15 and 2:04.25 respectively. As we went through the 9 mile marker John overtook me as I had slipped my pace to 6:55s. I decided to see if I could hold on after he left me at Folkestone on Good Friday. This time I managed to hold the gap to around 100 metres and (sorry John) sprinted past him with 50 metres to go to pip him on gun time by 3 seconds and race position (192 v 193) but missing my PB by 51 seconds (although he has the bragging rights on chip time, so pretty cunning planning to avoid writing the report John!). There were strong performances from all Harriers in the race and I will leave it to Bob to correct any of my inaccuracies or omissions from the report.