Just over a week ago, I took part in the Truro Half Marathon in Cornwall. I’d decided to do this event months ago as it was my Uncle Mark’s first half marathon and I wanted to do it with him. Although by do it “with him”, I mean finish about 30 minutes later…
Now, let me get one thing straight. I might be Cornish, but I’m definitely a city runner. I run on tarmac. On flat surfaces. I don’t do trails very often. I certainly don’t do hills very often. Even if I did want to do more hills, I’m a bit limited. I discovered that what is considered a hill in London is considered flat in Cornwall. I’d been told the route was challenging with some tough climbs, but if I’d known just HOW challenging, I’m not sure I’d have bothered. Yes, I’m a wimp.
Following breakfast of toast and jam in Wetherspoons, we lined up on the plaza ready for the start of the race. Despite expecting a tough course and knowing I wouldn’t be last, I also knew it was likely to be a pretty fast race with some good results due to the number of clubs in attendance. I placed myself near the back, my uncle head towards the middle and we waited for the race to start as the bars of “Final Countdown” rang out. Top quality cheese.
Side note – this awesome running skort is from Skirt Sports. I bought a couple recently from them and this one is the Happy Girl skirt. It has 3 pockets, including one zipped and 7 inch built in shorts and is quite simply one of the most comfortable things I’ve ever run it. It’s so practical and it kept me cool. Love it! I can also recommend the Gym Girl Ultra skirt, which has 5 inch shorts included. They don’t move, which is brilliant for this ample thighed runner.
The race started on time, although no sooner had we travelled all of 10 metres, we came to a standstill whilst the bottleneck of runners at the front sorted themselves out. A few valuable seconds cost, especially when you’re not chip timed, but no matter. We started out running a lap around the Hall for Cornwall, before waving goodbye to the crowds on the plaza and followed the riverside walk around the Garras Wharf car park where we cheered by the motorcyclists out for the Martin Jennings Memorial Motorcycle Run. The route was flat for the first mile or so and then we took on the first climb to the disused tram lines where we followed a flat trail out to the surrounding villages. We were treated to a downhill as we approached the first water station and then the relentless climbs started. And went on. And on. I did try to run them, but eventually walked the worst of them. I am now convinced Truro and the surrounding areas are nothing but a neverending hill. Which I don’t remember being the case in school. Then again, I always tried to NOT run at school.
For every climb, there must be a downhill eventually and despite needing to walk the tough hills, the first half of the race seemed to fly by and I was delighted when someone commented that a downhill was coming up as we entered the woods.
“Hooray!” thought I.
Then I saw the downhill. It was something like this, followed by another sharp up. I’m not even exaggerating. Much. Mountain Search and Rescue were even lingering in the area. That should have been a warning.
Yes, it really was that bad. It was impossible to run down and we all adopted strange techniques involving leaning back to prevent gravity from pulling us down. I briefly pondered rolling down like an 8 year old, but decided I didn’t really want to give the Search & Rescue team a job.
Thankfully, things soon flattened out again. However, all good things must come to an end and I’d been warned about another endless climb at 8 miles.
It went on.
The views were amazing. The effort was not.
I was so relieved the reach the water station between 9 and 10 miles, but disaster struck when we were informed they’d run out of water. They said they were refilling and I had to decide whether to carry on or wait. I ended up waiting a couple of minutes for water – the event wasn’t going to be a PB and the need for water after THAT climb was greater than the need to save a couple of minutes.
Rehydrated and back on route, I pushed on. Despite how challenging the course was, I found myself enjoying it. I’d been told that there was a downhill stretch around mile 11, and then it was almost flat back to the finish and I focused on using this as an opportunity to make up some time. Sure enough, the downhill came and I stretched my legs out, recovering whilst still clocking up my fastest km of the event. In the final mile, I managed to pick off a couple of people and loved the finish as we ran under the subway to appear as if by magic on the plaza.
My time? 2:36:54 and a pace of 11:54 m/m. Considering how tough it was, I was absolutely delighted as it was by far the hardest half marathon I’ve ever done. The finishers muttered about it being one of the hardest half marathons in the UK. One man muttered about 1000 foot of ascent according to his Garmin. I grabbed my pasty, went to the pub and sat about feeling hardcore.
I paid £19 for an on the day entry for this event and really enjoyed it. There were plenty of water stations and the marshals were friendly and appeared frequently on route making it hard to go wrong. Entry fee included a nice technical t-shirt, a pasty, bottle of water and a banana for all finishers, although no medal which was a shame as a medal was advertised on the website. The event was well organised on the whole and had a really nice atmosphere. Although popular with club runners, everyone was welcome. If you’re looking for a real challenge for a half marathon, you could do worse than to consider Truro. Results were published later that day, so a quick turnaround there as well.
Will I do it next year? Watch this space!