On Sunday 9th June I took part in the Ruby Run Half Marathon for the fourth time. I first raced between Holsworthy and Hatherleigh in 2011, running it alongside my uncle. That year we crossed the finish line in 46th and 47th positions in a time of 1:45:29. I travelled down to Devon with my sister Sarah and her boyfriend Joe to spend time with family. As I had ran the Stour Valley Marathon the previous weekend, I wasn’t too sure if my legs would be up for racing but after a few shakeout runs during the week they seemed to have recovered well from the hilly, trail route. My uncle was taking part again, cousin Tilly was racing in a relay team and my mum and sister opted to walk it (starting earlier at 8am) in training for a marathon walk later in the year.
After catching up with family throughout Saturday I nipped out for an easy 5k to keep the legs ticking over. I ran an out and back route; on the way out my legs felt good, then when I turned around, I realised the wind was behind me and it was gradually downhill. I had my fingers crossed for nice weather for the race. We carb loaded up on pasta and bread before watching a film to chill out and getting an early night.
Iffley Road vest, Suunto watch, adidas split shorts, Stance socks, Runderwear & adidas adios
With the race not starting until 10:30 I had a decent lie in. I woke up around 8am to have some breakfast and get kit ready. As my sister’s boyfriend Joe dropped her and my mum in town for the walk, he picked up my number, so I didn’t have to worry about that.
I met up with my Uncle Andrew, Auntie Hannah, Eliza & Tilly outside the memorial hall before we all walked down the road to the start point. As there were some road works the route had been changed slightly so we started halfway up Whimble Hill. We were very relieved we weren’t starting at the bottom, it’s steep! I was wondering if I would bump into any old football teammates or school friends. Through Strava I had seen that George Butler was running a fair amount, it was good to catch up with him before the race. I also saw friend Paul Piper on the start line and knew he’d be flying off into the distance having ran sub 2:30 for the marathon.
The pre-race briefing was done, we jumped off the verge onto the road and we were sent on our way. As I remembered the route being relatively hilly, I started at between half marathon and marathon pace. I figured I could either pick up the pace a little if the legs felt strong or ease back if they started tightening up. Having seen the previous years results I knew there wouldn’t be too many runners around the pace I wanted to hold but luckily there was a runner called Jim to run with/race. As I expected Paul opened a big gap early on and I knew we wouldn’t see him again.
My goal became sticking with Jim for as long as possible and seeing if I could finish second. I wasn’t too worried about the finishing time as I knew I wouldn’t finish anywhere near my personal best. It was good fun/refreshing to not worry about the clock but stick to Jim’s heels. I felt bad because he was pulling me along, but I didn’t really have it in the legs to get in front of him and push it anymore than we were.
Throughout the race I was cheered on by my Auntie Hannah, cousin Eliza, stepsisters Nic and Kelly and their children Caleb and Kensa. The route change at the start also meant I got to run past my gran and grandads house and they came out to wave at me. This was nice because they’d never seen me in a race before. It was also great to be cheered on by old colleagues and people from Holsworthy Football Club etc. I felt relatively comfortable throughout most of the run. However, there is one long steep hill around 8 miles and that cost Jim and me a minute or so. After that climb I knew it was relatively flat, so I got back into a good rhythm. As we neared the final 5km I was starting to think about when I was going to make a move past Jim. I tried to recall the route from previous years and then remembered that the last kilometre is quick downhill into Hatherleigh. I could tell Jim was tiring so when my watch showed 20k I made a burst and opened the legs up down the road to the hall.
It was great to be cheered on by my family at the roundabout just before the finish. I mustered a sprint to cross the line in second place in 1:18:53.
I congratulated Paul (1st in 1:13) and Jim (3rd in 1:19:13) on their runs before joining my family to cheer George (1:29), Uncle Andrew (1:45) and Tilly to the finish.
My mum and sister had fun and completed the walk in around three and half hours, they are going to smash the marathon and I’m sure they will be running the Ruby Run Half next year. Overall the event was so much fun! Fingers crossed I can get back for it again next year.
It seems like there were plenty of epic races at the weekend. Well done if you completed one of them, hope the recovery is going well.