CHIPPENHAM HALF MARATHON 2017
Chippenham Half marathon took place on 10th September 2017.
The race started at 9:30am from the centre of town before heading out into the scenic route of the surrounding countryside and villages. Sold as “A predominantly flat and fast course with light traffic that will be perfect for achieving a Personal Best!.”
It cost £22 for affiliated runners and £24 for unaffiliated.
With this race you received:
Gun to Chip and Chip to Chip timing (provided by Sport Systems).
Well marked and marshalled route
Selected road closures will be in operation
Changing and baggage facilities
Ample toilet facilities
4 drinks stations providing bottled water
Prompt results service
Goody bag with T-shirt and medal for all finishers
The course itself was mostly run in the countryside. I think sometimes running through countryside is always lovely as it gives you the benefits of ‘green exercise’. It’s a nicer view than grey streets.
The first 2 miles were run through the closed roads in the centre of town, this is slightly uphill. The best way to describe the first 2 miles was ‘gradual incline’. Somehow this was my fastest ever 2 miles I’ve ever completed even though to me, I felt it was uphill! The town centre was completely closed off until 1pm so plenty of time to avoid the traffic for the race.
Miles 3-9 was relatively flat and scenic. It was filled with long stretches of quiet roads as you head into the surrounding villages. This was all on road terrain and was flat with no holes (apart from the odd occasion when you had to avoid puddles due to the rain in the previous days).
Miles 10-12 started the uphill section of the race. I think this is the part where most people started to struggle. Some people hit the wall around mile 10 and then there was a conveniently placed hill. It was quite a long, rolling uphill and I think this is where some runners lost their speed. If you were a faster runner, these hills went quite quickly and so it wasn’t the worst hill you have ever seen.
Mile 13 was a fast downhill and a welcome sight after the previous hills that you had just had to run up. It comes running down into the village, following the route down before you take a right into the last 100 metres of the finish area. These last 100 metres are on grass but it was the only bit that was on grass for the whole race.
There were water stations every 3 miles and it was definitely a welcome site. I felt like there was a lot of water stations dotted around the route, I never felt like I was needing a water station because they were so regular. These were bottles of water (so much easier to drink out of!) and sweets like jelly beans and jelly babies.
The route was well marked and marshalled. Marshals were clearly visible and they were happy to cheer you on. They were very encouraging no matter where they were placed, some were placed on parts of the road that were long and straight and they made sure there was on every corner. I loved the bit around mile 8 on the bridge, where there were at least 15 different marshals & police officers keeping you on the right hand side (as there were cars on this section). It was a lovely part of the route and the fact that there were so many people helping out and cheering really showed the Chippenham Harrier Club were really caring about the runners.
The race HQ was quite energetic, they started warming runners up with a zumba sessions. Now I don’t participate in the sessions/dancing warm up’s before as it usually pulls too much on my legs and makes me feel super unfit! It was a nice to have this interaction along with the efficient race briefing.
As it was set in the countryside, you were running on country roads and in local villages. People had set up outside their houses and were watching the race go by, it was quite lovely, some had set up their own water stations for runners and some were giving out sweets. It was nice that people had taken the time out of their day in order to give back to the runners and watch the runners go past.
I ran quite a few miles with a really lovely woman running her first half marathon. She had been told a few days earlier to just give up and not run it but she was determined to finish and was running at an incredible pace! We ended up in a pack of people for a good few miles where everyone was friendly, having a chat which was so encouraging!
Admittedly by the time I finished, the finish line was quite empty. It would have been nice for the ‘slower’ finishers to have some people there.
The goody bag was awesome; you got quite a lot in it. For a race that is put on by a local running club, it was a lot to be given out. The bright t-shirt as well has definitely come in handy for if anyone wants to spot you out on a run! When you finished there was still plenty of options for shirt sizes and bags, which again is great because usually by the time I finish I just get the leftovers.
It was a well-organised race, and for the most part closed/quiet roads. You did get the occasion where one car wouldn’t be so considerate on the country roads and by quite fast. The roads did stay pretty quiet though! The only real problem I had was when I needed to overtake 3 horses and there was a car (who had stopped and was waiting patiently!) and one of the horses wasn’t too happy with either of us being there!
I was going into the Chippenham half with the expectation that I would just try and enjoy it. I had my Bedford half the weekend before and had some problems with my hip during the week and so I wasn’t expecting or aiming to go for a PB but would have liked to have beaten my old PB at least.
The first 2 miles when I set off I felt like I was going slow, it was uphill and as I always repeat in my posts. Any sign of a hill and I really struggle/just slow down. According to strava though, these were my two fastest miles of my race, apparently running 9 minute and 10-minute miles – something I never thought I would achieve!
Going this fast didn’t hit me for the race though, I kept a pretty regular 11 minute mile for the next few miles up until the 10/11/12 mile markers where the hills. Mitch’s dad came on his bike and cycled with me for about half a mile, which was really nice, joined me and encouraging, we had a chat for a bit until the roads started getting busy and we were running on the paths. This gave me a bit more of a boost because I was ready to end the race soon.
Mile 12 really took its toll on my leg, my hip had started to play up about mile 9 and I was running in pain now. This took a hit to my pace and as we were going up hill, which was increasing the pain, I had to walk. I knew I was so close to the end but I was walking faster than I was running so I walked until I got up to the top of the hill.
The last mile into town and the finish was downhill and was great, other runners who had finished and people who lived in the surrounding houses were out and cheering you on for the last bit.
I came in to the finish which ended on grass for the last 100m and even with my hip hurting I still managed a sprint finish..
I came in at 2:34, my second best half marathon time. I was happy with this considering my hip was hurting for the last few miles and my pace was really hit. I am going to rest and make sure my hip recovers before my next half.
Overall, I did enjoy Chippenham half marathon; I think it is one to be raced by anyone in the area. It is sold as a PB course and I don’t necessarily think that it is but for those who are good with hills probably could find it easier. First timers would definitely be able to finish this easily just as long as they know what is waiting at 10 miles! It is a quiet, well-organised and friendly race!