Race Review: Farnborough Winter Half 2018

Bad weather races are great! You’ve made it out of bed to the start line, when countless others haven’t- and of those who have, so many are moaning about the weather, that you’ve already got a psychological advantage if you stay positive!

Sometimes, living with Mr I-LOVE-RUNNING-YEAH! can be a bit trying. 6:30 this morning, a Sunday, with sleet and rain hammering down through the dark outside the window, and the prospect of 13.1 miles ahead, was one of those times.

We were running Farnborough half marathon, which had taken place for the first time in sub zero temperatures, in 2017. The forecast for this morning had gone from bad to worse throughout the week, and Facebook threads had been full of discussions on what to wear, given that we were certainly going to get wet, and were likely to get cold.

Farnborough is home of the world renowned air show, with much of the race taking place in and around the airport, and with its start and finish next to the famous air ship hangar. It was fantastic to see so many BVR club members signed up for what is our most local half marathon road race. It takes place on closed roads, with an undulating route, and with its timing at the end of January, it’s perfect timing for anyone taking part in a spring marathon. And, even if not- it’s a great way to kick off the New Year.

Arriving at the race village, everything ran like clockwork. 2:09 events should be applauded in their organisation- plenty of toilets (well, there was still a huge queue- no matter how many loos there are, you always need more, but the queue moved quickly), an easy bag drop, pumping warm up music, and a cheerful voice on the PA, rallying us to the start. The race started on time- with sleety rain falling, I think the organisers were as keen as we were to get us moving- and off we went.

Despite the obvious less than ideal conditions, the weather wasn’t actually THAT bad. We were running in January- it was never going to resemble a perfect autumn or spring day- and there was no driving wind or rain. Instead, we had snow, and whilst it didn’t settle, running in the woods while it was coming down was about as pretty as winter running gets.

The course itself consisted of loops around the airport and its surrounds, and then into the woods, on army roads, and back out onto closed roads, before looping back into the airport. As I mentioned, it was mildly undulating, with enough gentle up and down to keep things interesting, but nothing too strenuous. Except one short, sharp, shock, which was quite fun at 4ish miles- much less so at 11ish. It was so steep that I confess to walking a bit at the top, and swearing quite loudly. I really could have done with a ski slope style drag lift, and/or a great big speaker blasting Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, because, honestly, at the top, if I only could, I WOULD have made a deal with God. The saving grace was that after that, it was a gentle run to the finish.

I have to give a mention to the marshals who were brilliant; friendly, cheerful, encouraging- and this in freezing snow and sleet! They had a right to moan about the weather much more than us runners- standing around for hours, without the opportunity to get warm, handing out water and rallying us through the bad bits- massive props to them. Most runners were thanking them as they ran past, which is always nice to hear.
The finish was well supported, and the bag swag was good in my book- an Alton Sports voucher and a cosy hat were particularly welcome, along with all the food and drink goodies, and of course, an excellent medal!

All in all, I think this is a great race- very smoothly run, despite trying conditions, and suitable for all level of runner. Andrew, who ran it in 1:18, and I, who ran it in 2:24, enjoyed it equally, and feel very lucky to have it on our doorstep- and, to top it all, the Aviator café next to the finish did a very good flat white, which was much needed.

There were fantastic results all round from BVR; marathon training ticked off, first ever half marathons run, goals achieved, and a plethora of PB’s to boot. We’ll be back next year!

Report by Katie Ruocco

Blackwater Valley Runners had 52 runners in the Farnborough Winter Half 2018.

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