|Heather Jones||3555||F45 (127)||02:18:23|
A very warm March day in Cheshire saw a record number of runners complete the Wilmslow Half Marathon, with over 4000 runners finishing. ERN’s Heather Jones returned to WIlmslow and improved her time from two years ago by almost 7 minutes. Well done Heather!
Heather said : This was a well organised fast, flat (ish) half marathon that drew a good crowd from Greater Manchester, other parts of the North West, and one wee ERN. Spring was not just around the corner but was in the full flow of springing; the clocks had that very morning sprung forward, and warm sunshine was in abundance. This year was the 28th staging of this ever popular event and for the fourth year running, the race incorporated the English Half Marathon Championships. It is also a regular warm up race for people entering the London marathon so there were plenty of serious runners around. Many runners though were participating in their first half marathon, with plenty running for charities, with Manchester’s Christie Cancer Centre being well supported.
At the outset, I met up with a long lost school friend (last seen in 1983) and whom I’d caught up with almost by chance on Burns’ Night earlier this year. Belinda had run Wilmslow a few years back but wasn’t to be talked into doing it this year. As a big dog lover, and local resident, she generously volunteered to come along to support me and more importantly to take Dallas on a wonderful 3.5 hour walk along the delightful River Bollin valley woodland walk. Dallas bounded off without a backward glance.
I started at the back of the pack, and got into my usual groove, determined so far as possible to run every step and to aim for a negative split race. The route was an out, big circle and back, run on rural farm and B roads through arable fields decorated with copses of oaks and dancing daffodils. There were pretty thatched cottages to pass and some lovely old churches and pubs en route.
I went through the 10 mile point at 1:45 and was hoping that if I didn’t fade, I’d manage to beat my previous Wilmslow time of 2.25. It was like a hot summer’s day though with temperatures reaching 23 by early afternoon, so there were no guarantees I wouldn’t melt in the heat. I was glad of all the long Sunday runs with ERN and especially the two 13 milers I’d done in February. After joining the ‘back’ section of the route I knew I only had 2 miles to go though there were a few humply bits I hadn’t noticed so much on the way out. I managed a good strong finish, though didn’t manage to spot Belinda or Dallas in the crowds, which were superb in their cheering and encouragement of everyone finishing.
Despite entries being closed by January, a record number of over 5,000 entrants were received, and for the thousands of spectators lining the route to cheer on the runners, you could easily have believed that far in excess of that were running. The roads came to a stand still and for 13.1 miles the leafy lanes from Wilmslow and out to Mobberley and back became home to the thousands of runners. The race raises in excess of £50,000 annually for charitable causes and is recognised as an event that brings the entire Wilmslow community together and increases the population by close to 10,000 if only for a few hours! The unseasonably warm conditions took its toll and Red Cross volunteers were kept busy with many athletes being treated for dehydration, but everyone was a winner, the runners, the deserving charities, the hundreds of volunteers who made the race possible and the thousands of spectators who cheered the runners every step of the way.
I’d highly recommend ERNs travelling down to Manchester to enter this race which is as friendly and rewarding as any we put on in Scotland. Entries for the 2013 event will likely open in November and may even sell out by the end of the year.