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Downton Half Marathon 2007

Helen Allen reports

Downton 26th November 2006 – rain, thunder, lightning, snow, hail, floods – and that was just at the starting line!  Who but runners would turn out in conditions like that? Well, Debbie and I did – although the final decision to go for it was made within minutes of the starting pistol (poetic licence there!) sitting in a car with steamed up windows and watching the water levels rise!

Downton 2007 – same place, one year later.  Perfect running weather – if just a tad warm for the club polar bear, i.e. me!  No excuses this time! The weather could not have been more favourable and gave us the perfect opportunity to look at the wonderful Wiltshire countryside in all its autumnal glory – and the equally wonderful undulating (I still don’t trust that word!) terrain.  Sorry – there is no getting round it - the word is hilly!!

Quick decision needed - should I have a race plan or just make it up as I go along? Why change the habits of a lifetime and have a plan?! Hmm … anyway, we set off – chipped (which Debbie and I thought was quite posh!) - and I covered the first mile in 8.35.  As slow as that you say – but for me a pace that was unsustainable.  I put the brakes on a bit and re-jig to about warp factor 9-ish minute miles. That seemed to work and by mile 3 I was doing a shade over this. By 6 miles and 55 mins it was all starting to feel good, and I was beginning to enjoy the scenery that we’d missed the previous year. Some of it was vaguely familiar but everything looks different when you’re not bent double against the wind, eyes screwed up wondering if the next puddle would be ankle or calf deep … The hills however I remembered early on – and I soon figured were another reason to query whether a return trip to Downton had indeed been sensible. Put it this way – I think the race should be re-named Upton-mavbe-with-a-little-Downton! Those mountains just kept on coming! Still, undeterred, we forged ahead. I knew that when I reached and passed Debbie I was either going well, or she was in trouble...  Unfortunately it was the latter and a troublesome knee was slowing her down. (She still managed to finish only just behind me though! Well done that girl!)

Anyway, the miles were passing at about the right pace and when I was at 10 @1.31 I thought I might be in with a chance of a PB and inside the magic 2 hours. 1.50 @ 12 miles …hmm. 1.58ish at 13 – it’s going to be tight … The end was in sight so I decided the paramedics must be around and a sprint was a chance I could take. Lots of shouts at the end to stop running (I never can see these finish lines!) – and it was in the bag! Seconds over 2 hours but who’s counting! Even the club slug has her day! 

Bottom line: if you like Blackmore Vale half and you like a challenge – go for it!  Personally I will never touch Blackmore Vale again, but Downton is a do-able, scenic challenge – and the goody bag of an engraved medal and teeshirt – plus a hot drink and bun in the school dining room at the end – rounded it all off very nicely.


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