This was described in Wikipedia as the world’s largest half-marathon until a recent edit demoted it to second behind Göteborg. Still, it’s big. I’d heard some of the numbers, but I was still boggled by the scale of the thing, especially after the small inaugural Sunderland marathon.
I got to the starting area very early, on a coach transfer, and set out to walk from the start line back to the end of the starting pens. It took about quarter of an hour. Then when it came to start the race itself, by the time I passed the start line—having shuffled with the crowd of other runners up from my zone—the clock was already over 27 minutes!
(I didn’t understand the zoning system at all, but it’s presumably based on previous race times. I’d never run a timed race of any distance when I entered this one so I was placed quite far back.)
It was pretty much impossible to run at a constant speed in a straight line for more than a few seconds during the race, because of the crowds—right up to the finishing straight I was having to leap into gaps and up onto kerbs and verges, to avoid having to slow down and risk my legs turning to jelly before I could get started up again.
Fortunately, I’m quite keen on messing about like that.
And the weather was good: it rained. I like that too.
I finished in one hour 47 minutes (and 50 secs) which is a bit faster than I’d expected.
All in all I was most taken by the half-marathon distance—a proper run without the slightly insane nature of a marathon. Looking forward to the Bath half in March.