Maidenhead Half

The second half of the Grand Prix Program got underway at Maidenhead last Sunday; a fast course on closed roads along the Thames to quaint Cookham through pretty villages and lush meadows. Two laps of the course topped and tailed with a short commute from the market town centre through an underpass, the only bit of steepness on the course and just the right number of runners for a good atmosphere without it being a scrum.

The facebook buildup to the event was not without controversy. The Grecian liquid carb loading method is gathering more adherents. However, some avoid alcohol the night before running, but my theory is that the next day, after about 4 miles you are going to feel like you have fallen down a flight of stairs chased by a puma anyway so a few drinks the previous evening won’t make any difference.

The Maidenhead half comes at the time of year when we are rested from our summer holidays and like the new academic year and football season, X-factor and Strictly, we are looking forward to new challenges. Runners should have a different calendar to the rest of the world with two New Years at the beginning of the Spring and Autumn racing seasons. Since we are outcasts from society it would cause us little inconvenience.

In the summer, when, like tortured wrecks, we alternate between guilt ridden indolence and envy. Shunned by society as we trudge, parched and delirious past those at repose, who drink long drinks, children who play with carefree expressions whilst we, screwed up by angst and dehydrated to husks, shuffle over the arid landscape. In perpetual purgatory between rest and exercise, between leisure and sporting ambition, with throbbing temples and eyes like myxomatosis. Pitied my normal folk whose prelapsarian enjoyment is of just being outside. No personal Everest, but a pass time no more significant than the choice of which part of the ice cream to lick next.

I was musing on this when the start gun went off and everyone suddenly jumped about a foot in the air, some clutching their chests. Kate Hancock and Graham Ashby set off on their first half marathons and the longest runs they had yet taken on, both with as many mixed feelings as the winner of a whelk eating competition.

One of the privileges of being one of the middle paced runners is that of plenty of company during the run. By the mathematical distribution of runners the faster and slower are more spread out whilst the median are in the bulge part of the race. For much of the race I ran in the peloton with Kevin Stone, Matthew Pritchard, Simon Gerrard, and Dan Hookey amongst others. We tried various formations. ‘The Wall’ was not popular with other runners whilst the Red Arrows inspired ‘Concord Plan Form’ looked most impressive.

Best sport of the race must surely be the really short chap who had a sign on his back which said that this was his 100th half-marathon and that when he did his first he was over 6ft tall!

PBs for Kevin Furlong, Kevin Stone, Matthew Prichard and obviously for first timers Kate Hancock, Steve Ramek and Graham Ashby. First time runs definitely do count as PBs, as in the runners chat up line “so, what’s your PB for the half?” If you have a PB you must have gained it, even if on your debut. Other results are on the race website. Shame they were encrypted with pdf

After joy, sorrow: commiserations to Karen Hardy and Danny Norman who suffered injuries. Swift recovery to them both. Karen kindly treated us to giant biscuits as we sat upon the grass recovering, and after a while a small delegation volunteered to try out the nearest pub the weatherspoons ‘Bear’.

Apologies to anyone I missed and inaccuracies. Despite the holidays being great, running and racing is rather enjoyable and I think we are going to have loads of fun in the long slog to Christmas.