I’ve eyed up the Kenilworth Half Marathon for a couple of years, but I’ve never got round to signing up in time. I usually find locally run running events, particularly those run by actual running clubs by actual runners, are often far better organised and can cost considerably less than their more commercial counterparts. As Kenilworth Half Marathon has also been recognised as one of the top UK half marathons and gets a high rating on Runners World, it was safe to say that it was probably going to be a pretty good race. I also especially like races which are held nearby – I value my lie ins!
The race was scheduled to begin at 10am, so at 9am I took the short drive over to Kenilworth and parked in a local (free all day!) car park. I left everything in the car to minimise the hassle of baggage reclaim at the race, and jogged a mile through Abbey Fields to the start at Castle Farm. I had a slight detour on the way (navigation is not my strong point!) but soon turned back and sheepishly followed the steady stream of walkers dressed in running gear. Run number and chip collection was running like a well oiled machine so by 9:30am I was ready and raring to race!
After a short run briefing (watch out for speed humps, no headphones, thanks to marshals, etc etc), we self seeded into predicted run time pens and in no time at all we were off! The course is a single lap on-road route which heads out West from Kenilworth towards Beausale. It was fairly undulating and there wasn’t much in the way of views, but the roads were largely smooth and there were very regular water stations. There were more marshals than I think I’ve ever seen on a course (with the exception perhaps of the Outlaw triathlons) so we were very well looked after!
My target was a mix of trying to get a PB, and also to see what kind of pace I might be able to hold at marathon distance. It was about 18 months since I last did a proper half marathon race, so a PB was a fairly low bar. I aimed to hold a breathing rate which felt achievable for ~2 hours, which seemed to be around 8 minute miles (5 minute kilometres) average. I held this for about 11 miles and then just opened it up to see what else I could do. I didn’t have much left in the end (in hindsight a few jelly babies might’ve helped!), but anything around 5min/km at this point was good so anything faster was just a bonus! I managed to finish in 1:44.27, absolutely smashing my previous PB of 1:51:57 from Reading Half Marathon 2015! I was super chuffed 🙂
At the end of the race we got bottles of water (very welcome!), a long-sleeved technical t-shirt, and a bag of goodies including chocolate, crisps and a banana. One of the ladies from Kenilworth Runners came to speak to me afterwards, saying my time was really good (cue big head) and wondered if I was looking for a running club. I’ve let my Bracknell Forest Runners club membership lapse since I moved, and as I spend more time in Warwickshire, joining a club up here doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. She especially lured me in with talk of a cross country league (muddy running – sounds amazing!) which starts up soon and she’s looking for ‘fast women like me’ – flattery is most definitely the best persuasion! So who knows, maybe I’ll end up with more than a PB out of Kenilworth Half Marathon.