The Bath Half (the middle sibling of the Bath Whole and the Bath Quarter) attracts around 15,000 runners each year and is one of the most popular road-running events in the UK and this year was no exception.
Participants ranged from elite runners, to fundraisers, to masochists. Personally I was unfortunate enough to have my birthday on the day of the event; and, having had the entry fee paid as a birthday present, I felt obliged to go through with it (thanks Dad!)
Training was sporadic and somewhat hampered by huge hills on either side of my house – before the race day I had only managed a meagre 9 miles. Needless to say, I was a bit worried about completing the last stretch of the marathon. Serious preparation really began the night before, with the ceremonial loading of carbs as I devoured three pasta sandwiches and a bag of potatoes.
Then came race day. Excitement and trepidation were in the air as I began the ten-minute shuffle to the start line – you could tell who the elite among us were, as they shuffled at a slightly increased pace.
The first half of the race was characterized by distant cries of ‘Go Susan!’ and ‘Come on Kenneth!’ at every turn and for a few miles, this kept me going. At this point in the race, my light at the end of the tunnel came in the form of a giant inflatable boob, bobbing along in the distance. Other notable costumes spotted included the cookie monster, a rugby ball and two runners dressed as bride and groom.
The second half of the race was where I started to struggle. My legs were hurting, I had a blister forming and even hearing the roadside band playing ‘Dani California’ couldn’t cheer me up. Jelly beans flung at me by local children became my only reprieve from the constant fatigue. At this point it became difficult to justify doing this to myself over all the other exciting ways I could be celebrating my 22nd year of existence.
Against all odds, I made it to the twelfth mile and with only one more to go, it seemed somehow appropriate to sprint with wild abandon towards the finish. Crossing the finish line would have been more momentous, had I not got stuck behind four women holding hands in the final moments which hampered my glory somewhat.
On a serious note, the half-marathon was a lot of fun and a large amount of money was raised for charity which, after all, is what it’s all about for us amateurs anyway.
All things considered, I can think of few better ways to spend a birthday (save from being at the pub) and at the end of the day, it was definitely a Bath Half full rather than a Bath Half empty!