Bristol Half Marathon report

Sunday dawned bright and clear in Bristol, with the temperature hovering around the 10°C (50°F) mark at 9:30.

After a 7am breakfast, the family and I pottered around for a bit before leaving the hotel at 9am so I could get in a few minutes warmup.

The race started almost exactly on time at 9:30am and I managed to position myself in the first few hundred runners at the start (with a view to finishing in around the same position). Because of the number of runners and some bottlenecks in the first mile, it was a bit of a slow start (>8min/mile pace), but after that, it eased and I was able to make up most of the time lost in the first mile and began to run on my 4:15/km (6:50/mile) pace.

The course winds around Bristol City Centre before following the River Avon out to the West. It is predominantly flat, with a couple of short, steep inclines around the 11 and 12 mile marks.

I had a pretty good first 5 miles, although my legs did seem rather more lethargic than I expected them to be given the tapered training I did in the previous two weeks. However, I managed to keep (just) on pace. Between 6 and 7 miles, I really thought I was struggling. Looking back, I don't think it was a struglle to run, merely a struggle to get into a regular breathing pattern. This settled around the 8th mile though, and I was still on pace (again, just!).

Just after mile 10, we returned to the centre of Bristol and my wife and kids were there cheering like crazy. That's such a boost!

Unfortunately, after this, things started to go downhill for me. In the past, I've physically struggled between 10 and 12 miles. This time, though I was running okay. However, a stitch started to develop, which slowed me down, and this got so bad that I had to stop altogether at 11 miles :( I managed to resume after a minute or so and got back onto a reasonable pace, but not the pace. The stitch came back at around 12 miles and I was really concerned that I'd have to give up and walk the rest of the way. The great thing was the number of runners who passed me at this low point and offered me words of support and even a pat on the back! This cheered me up, and I eventually pushed on through the (easing) pain. By the time I saw the family again at about 12.5miles, the stitch had nearly gone and I was getting back to near target pace. I even managed to re-take a few of the people who had passed me in my darkest moments.

At 13 miles, and with 200m to go, I managed a sprint - well, sort of. The crowd support in the last 1/2 mile was absolutely fantastic and I'm sure that helped me on. I overtook a few more folks in the last 200 and finished in a very respectable, if slightly disappointing 1:32:50 (chip time).

I'm pretty sure I lost 2-3 minutes (and 150+ places) because of the stitch, so it would have been close if not for that. Final position was 569 (by position) and 593 (by chip time).

I'll definitely enter again next year as the place and the people make it a fantastic race. Hopefully I'll be able to pull my time down to nearer the 1:25 mark with a year more of training.


Brings back some good memories.

I lived in Bristol for many years and did the half-marathon 3 times.

The last time I did it (1999?) - I only found out the night before that I'd challenged my brother and he'd been in training whereas I was about 7 pints into a good night out - I stopped there. Suffice to say running 12 miles after a night out on the town is not recommended. Every step from the first to the last was painful.

Posted by Rich Sharples on October 03, 2005 at 09:24 AM BST #

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