Incase you didn’t know, I am actually an Essex girl at heart, so I couldn’t be happier to have participated in a race right there on the doorsteps of where I grew up as a kiddo.
This race was a pivotal moment within the last five years of long distance running as my parents could finally get to see me run (and help pick me up after). Asking my parents to come over for the Melbourne 10k may have been a bit of a big request, similarly, the Bristol half marathon is hardly round the corner from Essex. On Sunday 14th June, here I was, doing up my laces in my family home and getting ready to run 13.1 miles.
On the day, the winds were low and the sky was overcast, the weather conditions were perfect considering we were running along the Estuary coast. There were over 2,500 people who entered in for the race, a nice amount of people in comparison to my first Bristol half which had 11,000 participants! Now in it’s 20th year, the Southend half marathon is well and truly recognised nationally as runners travel across the country to attempt to get a PB along the flat course. I wasn’t down for getting a PB, in fact, I just wanted an indicator of how much further I’ve got to train until I get into a marathon-ready state for October 25th.
[custom_heading center=”true”]The course[/custom_heading]
It may well be the end of the line for c2c trains coming back from London but the start line for the race was in Shoebury, just a stone’s throw from the train station off of Shoebury East beach. The queues to the portaloos were expectedly long as runners nervously waited around until they were called forward to run at 9:30am.
It’s not until the end of mile 2 when you end up getting a look in at the seafront after running through some residential areas (and ofcourse a pub, the first of many along the way!). When you reach the seafront you run along the main road until you get to the Sealife centre when you run back and do another loop. Some people love running a circuit during a half marathon but I started to build up this mental wall on mile 7 when I knew every step I was taking I’d have to make up on the way back. On the plus side, it meant that the time spent running into the wind and behind the wind was fairly balanced.
Support was in it’s plenty throughout the whole race which was lovely, the stewards were brilliant and there was a kid who must have been about 7 years old whose support saw me through the last few miles – whoever that kid is, he needs to be a coach when he’s older!! Fortunately, I managed to give him a high five and thank him when I went past him for the second time.
Route Map can be found here.
[custom_heading center=”true”]The spirit of the event[/custom_heading]
The Southend Half Marathon was a true portfolio for the spirit of Southend and made me feel so appreciative of my Essex roots. The Southend Flyers running club were out in full force and decked up to the nines with bright orange in support of Nick Palmer who unfortunately passed away at the finishing line of the Southend half last year. A 1 minute clap in honour of Nick and a speech from his parents at the start line underlined the key theme for this race: celebrate running, celebrate life.
The number of spectators who were cheering on people who had their names printed on their vest was incredible and made me realise this is a definite tick for the marathon event!
I was running to a great pace between miles 1-7 (averaging 8:30 min mile) until I hit the wall at Mile 8, I could feel my brain just wearing thin in terms of confidence, I was letting in thoughts about stopping and was letting the ache in my feet override everything else. Despite seeing on the map that there were public toilets, I kept on looking out for them but couldn’t see any that were open – this didn’t put my mind at ease and the inner voices got the better of me as I hit a 10 minute mile on Mile 11.
[custom_heading center=”true”]Race highlights[/custom_heading]
- Mile 11 when we were running along Church road, a couple had amazingly setup an outdoor shower which you could run through on the road – this was a fantastic idea and was well received by the runners. You’re legends!
- Kudos must be given out for the guy who was behind the microphone at the finishing line – a personal highlight was when he said ‘Havens Hostages’ by mistake, don’t worry pal – only a few thousand people heard 🙂
- The final highlight was when we got home and my mum suggested soup for lunch
Direction and instructions were clear at all times, and mile markers were definitely accurate which pleased me immensely (in comparison to the Sarsen trail which ended up being significantly shorter than a half marathon distance!). Some advice for next year, parking charges should 100% not happen and I’m glad this got waived on Sunday. It shouldn’t happen in future, it’s a Sunday and it’s on a field, you can’t honestly expect 2,000 people to pay £4.50 in time before the race. I suggest that while people are queuing to leave and exit the car park you should get a few Havens buckets on the go so people can contribute while they wait.
All photos are courtesy of Havens Hospice – please like them on Facebook!