Southport Half Marathon, Sunday 2nd July, 13.1/52 miles
Last week I took part in the multi-race challenge, the Tour of Merseyside. It comprises of 52 miles across 6 races in one week. The race has a small field, about 350 runners in total, so throughout the week you really get to know everyone taking part.
It is a really unique event; I can’t really describe it! Think the big brother house but for runners racing.
I’ll be blogging the whole week race by race over the next few days, starting with stage 1: Southport half marathon on Sunday 2nd July.
The tour kicks off with the Southport Half Marathon, which also has ‘non-tourists’ taking part in it. This was good for me though as it meant lots of my club mates were running it too as it is part of the Merseyside Grand Prix. It’s very difficult to think about racing a half marathon and then having 39 more miles left to race for the week, so I had no idea what my race tactics would be!
I started running with a few other tourists from my club who were aiming for the same, hopefully finishing in just over 2 hours but leaving enough in the legs for the rest of the tour. The route began with a big bottle neck at some gates after a lap of the park, not a great start for anyone aiming for a PB really. We literally had to stop as runners tried to funnel through the gate. I was glad of the rest to be honest to stop my legs going off too fast! The route then goes along Lord Street, through Hesketh park and out onto the coastal road.
Along the coastal road is where it got tough and all those niggles in my legs (but mostly in my head!) began to be felt. I decided to slow down considerably as I knew I had a tough week ahead of me, but luckily still finished it with a big group of Penny Lane Striders. It was refreshing to not be running for a PB and to take the pressure off, it became a much more autotelic experience. In the end, I crossed the line in 2 hours and 31 seconds, over 10 minutes slower than my PB time, but I was satisfied with that for a start to a challenging week ahead of me.
Verdict on the Southport half marathon
The course of the Southport Half Marathon seemed to have PB potential, it’s flat but the weather can be the most challenging factor. It can either be too windy along the coastal road or too sunny with no shelter (as it was this day – I came away with tan lines!). The only downside to the course is the bottle neck at the start. It’s well organised with chip timing, water stations, good amount of toilets at the start. There’s also a 10k race and a 1 mile fun run on the same day so it gives options to lots of runners and families to get involved. There’s a great atmosphere with a samba band at the start and finish.
Tourists also received a fab goodie bag with allsorts in it including sun-tan lotion, shower gel, snacks, etc. The atmosphere at the Tourists tent was amazing – loads of Tour vets (this is the fifth Tour of Merseyside now) giving tour virgins (like myself!) advice about the week ahead and sharing our excitement.
Next I’ll be sharing my recap of stage 2: Thurstaston multi-terrain 6 miler. 13 miles down, just 39 more to go!