Racing into spring - London, Brighton, Prague and more!
The races are coming thick and fast now we're into April, with loads of LFRs heading out in the spring sunshine and making the most of those miles banked over winter. The red and black has been popping up all over the local area and beyond, with Adam Carter getting the prize for the most far-flung event this time around. Read on for reports from London, Hughenden and snowy Prague and so much more!
Race Reports by Tom Webster
London Landmarks half - 3 April 2022
Ann Hopper, Heidi Buck and Nolan Johnson headed down to London on 3 April to go sightseeing courtesy of the London Landmarks Half Marathon.
Over to Nolan for more from the day: "I was supposed to be running this race last year but Covid had other ideas, but after hearing the amazing experiences of LFRs who did the race last year, I was really excited to be taking part.
"The race goes through the heart of the City of London, through the West End along the embankment and past the Tower of London. This year 12,000 runners took part and the weather was perfect for it. Along the course the support was non stop. There were choirs from the musicals, a rock choir, Roman warriors, steel drums, brass bands along with thousands of spectators along the route."
"A personal highlight of mine was the Bow Bells ringing as we ran through the East End and also being greeted by Chelsea Pensioners at the finish line. I was way off a PB, but it didn't matter as I ran comfortably and was able to soak up the atmosphere. By far, the most enjoyable half marathon I have ever ran. And a few hundred raised for charity along the way. You can register your interest online now. Go for it!"
Ann had a great time too, saying: "I did it, whoop! And I smashed over 3 mins off my previous time! It was such a nice day and I managed to see my husband at three different points, being my support crew and personal photographer."
Heidi made the most of her training too, saying: "Well that was good fun! I raised over £500 for Breast Cancer Now. I could not have ran like I did without all of the LFR runs and support."
Prague Half Marathon - 3 April 2022
Adam Carter added another half marathon to the list for 2022, with April's in a location that is sure to be on many peoples' bucket list as he headed to the Czech Republic's capital city of Prague.
He joined a field of about 8,000 who braved the chilly temperatures - Adam reports that there was snow falling but thankfully it wasn't settling. The route took in the amazing scenery in the centre of the city and there was a fantastic level of support all round the route. Despite the cold, Adam stormed around in 2 hours 1 minute and thoroughly recommends the trip!
Hughenden 1/4 marathon - 3 April 2022
By Jo Secker
I raced in the Hughenden 1/4 marathon on 3 April. There were two options, a 1/4 and 1/2 marathon. The 1/4 was was one loop of some lovely trails through the Hughenden National Trust estate. It was very hilly and quite tough in places. Overall it was a well organised, small, friendly event by Runaway Racing.
The Kew Half - 10 April 2022
By Alice Tame
I had a very early start on 10 April as I had to make the drive down to Kew Gardens in south west London to make the 8.30 start of the inaugural Kew Half. The event had previously been the Richmond Half and took place alongside a 10K (on the Saturday) and a family mile option on the Sunday.
Five miles of the route was inside Kew gardens which was very scenic, going past the glasshouses and through woodlands, and then the remaining eight miles were down the Thames in the sunshine to Richmond and back again with the finishing line just outside Kew. The route was really beautiful and incredibly flat, which felt very nice after months of hilly Leighton Buzzard training runs. The scenery kept my mind off mile counting for my first half.
This was my first half marathon so I guess anything counts as a PB! I completed the course in 2hr 08min - within my target time of sub 2hr 15min.
Would definitely recommend the run and am thinking about doing it again next year as it has real PB potential if I do less chatting and more running. It's great for supporters, too, with lots of opportunities to catch runners on the route inside Kew and there is free entry to Kew all day for spectators (although my legs were a bit tired for walking round the gardens too much afterwards!)
Flitwick 10K - 10 April 2022
By Emily McClelland
Super sunny Sunday saw the Flitwick 10k run by friendly local running club the Flitwick & Ampthill Flyers. In the end, 23 LFR’s turned up to tackle the lumpy bumpy road course, making it a true LFR takeover. The weather was perfect, warm enough for a few vest tops to make an appearance, but cool enough that it didn’t turn into a sweat fest. The LFR spirit was at its best with everybody staying till the end to cheer everyone over the finish line and under the rather large finishing arch. There were some awesome sprints, jubilant smiles and serious game faces, I fear I took on the latter. Coach Matt led the team home in an impressive time for the undulating course, Sagar was less than 2 minutes behind running himself a PB. I managed to lead the LFR ladies home and after that, the rest weren’t far behind. Nicky Moore ran herself a PB, perfectly paced after taking advice from Coach Matt. Sam Booth put in a great finish as did Lynda Murray. Julia Gallie reported that the ups and downs were definitely not equal to one another! I have to agree!
Jim Buttleman was out on course to support, appearing in 2 places - nothing beats some on course support, thank you Jim!
Derby 10K - 10 April 2022
Although I was very jealous of all the team fun at Flitwick at the weekend, I had a responsibility, nay duty, to my northern/midlands roots to run my local road race – the Derby 10k. This was the first ever route and race that I took part in all the way back in 2016, and it has now become a tradition to attend annually. I ran with a couple of friends on the day to keep up this routine, suitably prepared with takeaway and beers the night before. I sadly missed the past two years, one closed by covid, the other was double booked with the Great South Run.
The sun was shining, Derby TV Live was broadcasting the event online and welcoming almost 2,400 runners on Sunday morning. Based in Derby, starting at the famous Pride Park football stadium for Derby County Football Club, this is a serious PB potential course. It is fast and flat with only 162ft elevation gain throughout the whole 6.2 miles. There is a small out-and-back for the first couple of kilometres and then you head along wide and closed roads to the town centre.
You take in a small cultural tour of the cathedral, Iron Gate, Quad theatre and the Derwent river, head back out alongside the A52 and back to finish at the stadium. The crowd and supporters were great throughout and at the finish line. The end was greeted with a medal, water and chocolate brownies; not forgetting the silky-smooth lime green shirt that arrived by post before the event. Personally, a great success as I got both a course and all-time PB. My course previous best was 46 mins while my 10k PB (from the Dirt Half) was 44 mins. I'm so, so pleased with new time of 40:45.
I recommend it to you all – who fancies joining me?
Bring on next year, I'm itchy for a sub-40 now…
The big one - The Brighton Marathon - 10 April 2022
By Gavin Prechner
Most people go to Brighton to wander along the pier, paddle in the sea, join a stag/hen do, or, in Ian’s case, ferry the youngest back and forth to University. Not us! Six LFRs decided that Brighton was the perfect place to take on a marathon. As it turned out, Brighton could just have been the perfect place to run one on Sunday 10 April.
One day out from race day Strava confirmed the arrival of a few LFRs in sunny Sussex as ‘casual’ parkruns appeared on various profiles. There were no flying times posted but a tourism opportunity can’t be missed can it? I have to admit, I did one, I also nearly fell over twice getting to my parkrun. The consequences of injury so close to race day are unthinkable, let alone explaining to the wife and child.
For those of you that have not heard anything about Brighton marathon, the event is one of the major marathon events in the UK with up to 10,000 entrants of all abilities. It goes without saying that charity entrants make up a good chunk of the entrants, which means a lot on money will have been raised for good causes.
Race entrants must collect their race numbers from the ‘Beach Village’ on Saturday, which gives everyone a chance to take in the atmosphere, pick up some free stuff and have a sneak peek at the finish line, which will no doubt feel like another world away at mile 22.
Sunday – race day. The race started in the biggest park (in a city) outside of London – Preston Park. Kudos to the race organisers, the event was brilliantly planned out and they had thought of just about everything. I have never seen so many portable toilets in a field, I could have easily had six nervous wees and not had to queue. Given that there were close on 10,000 participants, I was only able to meet up with Will Ellis and partner Ruby before entering the pens for the start.
Into the first couple of miles, the nerves started to settle and I was able to find my rhythm. Garmin said 8.15 pace – spot on for now. The crowds at the start were three to four deep and the noise was incredible. The entire course was on closed roads which meant all you had to do was focus on your run and avoid the kerbs.
Ian Bisby had got his starting pen slightly wrong so after about three miles he snuck up behind me, to my surprise. After a quick selfie, he pushed on.
After a few loops around the city centre passing Brighton Pavilion the course headed out onto the coast towards the marina. The weather couldn’t have been better – bright, cool, little breeze. No excuses then. As the course double backs on itself a few times I was able to shout encouragement to others as I passed them which was great to do. Sorry Megan if I terrified you at mile whatever it was, I was just excited to see a fellow club runner!
Breaking through 'The wall'
As the course meanders along the coast road, there is always a ‘dark bit’ in a marathon, typically around the mile 20 mark and this one was no exception. The course takes in the power station and industrial area before turning back for home. This was the tough part and thankfully for me I was scooped up by a fellow charity runner that gave me the lift I needed to get me back along the promenade to the finish.
What a finish it was too, the support was again layers deep, drums, DJs, rattles, all sorts. Everything you need to get you over the line. Post finish, a dip in the sea had already been agreed between Ian and I, which was invigorating to say the least. The main casualty was my flip flops which broke. After that, the saltiest chips I have ever had and a well-earned cider.
PBs and notable finishes galore
Huge congratulations to all the LFRs that took part, it was lovely to see some of you en route and afterwards, you all did an absolutely amazing job.
First home was Ian Bisby in 3hr 24min – a mind boggling time frankly. Second home was Gavin Prechner in 3hr 45min, followed by Will Ellis in 4hr 3min. Will was off to a live gig afterwards, what a legend!
Next home was Megan in 4hr 19min, a fantastic achievement for your first ever marathon!
Dale Smissen was over the line in an equally impressive 4hr 39min supported by his little boy. Was this your first?! Finally, seasoned marathon runner Lesley Wes Barnard crossed the line in 5hr 27 to complete her 93rd marathon. Utterly bonkers and hugely impressive.
If you do choose to do a marathon, you really can’t go wrong with entering Brighton, the level of support is comparable to London I would say and the course is probably as flat and forgiving as they come. Going back to my opening lines, it was just about the most perfect place and conditions. Go on, if I can do it…