We awoke to glorious sunshine on Sunday morning, a suitable send off for the 16,000 runners which was a record number for the Bath Half Marathon. There was a hint of celebration in the air after England’s fine win over Wales, despite the late scare.
Mark Jackson (who also ran back in 2006) and I fully warmed up (see below) – or at least I thought I did. Lee Mears, fellow Patron and ex-England International star, came to see us off and we were full of optimism.
The usual list of fancy dressers was on show – my potential running companions the pantomime horse and the Bath Rugby Ball were standouts, although in the hottish weather were going to struggle later on. Not as much as me though, as the apparently ok calf muscle twanged after three miles and I had to look after it for the next ten! Added to the ankle it was tough going but at least I could take in the atmosphere and the surroundings as I passed them by at a snail’s pace. A bit like one of my outside breaks.
Have to say that the taste in music down in Bath has changed as we had to suffer at least two (old) boy bands which were presumably supposed to offset leg pain with earache!
At the final turn, I spotted my reception committee of faithful supporters who hadn’t quite given up hope, even though the volunteers were beginning to clear up the roads. Their encouragement was welcome but the legs didn’t respond!
At least 90 minutes after the record breaking Kenyan had crossed the line, I hove into view and carried a Bath mini rugby ball for the last 200 metres ,about as much as I could carry. At least I didn’t drop it! (Whisper it, but 2 hrs 45 mins was nothing to be proud of…)
I had the panto horse in my sights but of course 4 legs against 2 was an unequal struggle. I did beat the Bath Rugby Ball (full-size) by the length of a pitch which was at least a consolation.
The last two miles were in fact a wonderful and nostalgic closure after ten years of marathons and half-marathons. I feel privileged to have been able to experience that time, and thank profusely those doctors and physios who made it happen (Alan Watson take a bow). It’s been a blast and I have met along the way some amazing athletes of all shapes and ages – often wearing costumes which defied belief.
The worst moment in my first Marathon – being overtaken by a fat Rhino at 18 miles – has been far outweighed by the inspiration on offer through the years from crowds, fellow runners and supporters.
And so, thanks to all of you who supported my last ever run of any distance. To have participated in honour of Howard, Sebastian and James was a real privilege.
CRY remains a charity that I will always support and I hope that you are inspired too, and continue to spread the word.