Surrey Half Marathon


THE SURREY HALF MARATHON

The uncanny thing about the Surrey Half Marathon was that it didn’t feel like a brand new race at all. This is very much meant as a compliment; there are many ways, both big and small, that an event of this size can go wrong, and the organisers of this event managed to dodge them and get it right first time.


No obvious mishaps with baggage, a properly marked out and thought through course, and, vitally, a decent number of toilets! (The only logistics failure I am aware of was in my own tussle with public transport that saw me totally miss the pre-run meet up with the rest of the other Runners Need crew. *Looks like the Camden Town Runners Need staff need to rethink their race travel tactics!*

In some ways it feels odd that a race of this magnitude hadn’t been put on in the area before. The Surrey countryside must be some of the most appealing running and cycling territory in the country, and unlike other beauty spots there actually is a large and enthusiastic population using it every weekend. Sure enough, a beautiful early spring day saw over four thousand runners snake around the  Spectrum sports centre on the northern edge of Guildford ready to head out along a green and pleasant route to Woking. And right back again.

It’s fair to say the course is a little undulating. There’s nothing to fear for the flatlander but it’s by no means a guaranteed PB. And there was certainly no personal best for me as I found a troublesome calf flaring up in the second half. On other days I may have been tempted to drop out as my pace slowed and slowed, but with the support of the runners heading in the opposite direction and the glorious sun shining it would’ve been churlish to feel sorry for myself. And after a few painful kilometres, the finish really put a spring back in my step as I ran onto the Spectrum athletics track and hundreds of spectators cheering my final strides came into view. Proof of how benign the course is came a few minutes after I finished when my girlfriend came onto the track with no sign of injury and having paced the race well. Result: a new half marathon best by a handy five minutes.

The race for the win was a fairly close affair on the men’s side as Nicholas Kirui and Boniface Kongin (both of Kenya and Run Fast) were neck and neck for much of the race, with Kirui just breaking his compatriot towards the finish and prevailing in 63.19. Phil Wicks (Belgrave Harriers) was first Briton. (To no-one’s great surprise, I wasn’t able to live up to my race number!) The women’s race was dominated by Perendis Cherop (also Kenya and Run Fast) who went through halfway on pace for an incredibly fast time but seemed to then ease back with the race in the bag. First domestic finisher was Lesley Locks (Hart Road Runners), with Runners Need’s own Bel Levene (Aldershot, Farnham and District) one place further back in fifth.

Intriguingly, next year’s race is going to be run in reverse, starting and finishing in Woking. Whether a club stalwart, a first timer or somewhere in between, this event is well worth considering.

Race report by Sam – Store Manager at Runners Need Camden


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