In a bit of a deviation from the usual bicycle-based activities, here’s a write up of this morning’s Bedgebury Pinetum Half Marathon.
It’s run by RatRace and looked like a good prep event for the Scotland Coast-to-Coast I’m tackling in September. It was also my first organised half, having completed the distance in training a couple of times lately.
Tucked away in the middle of absolutely nowhere in Kent is the Bedgebury Pinetum, which Google tells me is a ‘conservational arboretum’. That translates to a place with a lot of trees.
The start village included pop up bars, a climbing wall, a shop and even a bouncy castle as well as the more practical requirements of a bag-drop and secure valuables storage.
After a quick gee-up from MC Mike and a warm-up conducted by a couple of guys from British Military Fitness which got the blood flowing, it was to the start line we headed.
Runners were released in one minute intervals, starting with those aiming for sub 1h40 times back to those aiming for 2h10 or more.
The course is almost entirely on tracks running through the forest, rarely allowing you the foresight of what lies around the corner. The route went over every type of surface imaginable, from tarmac to sand, clay, gravel, mud, rocks, grass and often a combo of all of the above. This made for an interesting and unique course. Fortunately, despite a few spots of rain before and during the event, the muddy bits were perfectly passable in a normal pair of running trainers and were few and far between. With a bit more rain overnight, these bits would have been tricky to negotiate at pace.
It’s also an undulating, or in other words, bloody hilly course. There’s barely any long sections of flat terrain, with most of the time spent slogging up or trying to regain speed back down the slopes. The toughest gradient is saved for last too, with several runners in the 1h40 – 1h50 time region being reduced to a walk up the final winding concrete path to the finish line.
The route was brilliantly signed and marshalled around the course, and three water stops at 3.5, 7.5 and 10 miles provided much needed liquid refreshment on the way.
The only downside is that I, and everyone else on Strava, only covered 12.5 miles. I read of similar issues last year so I was hoping they would have reworked the course to ensure it covered the full 13.1 miles we were promised. Having said that, it isn’t exactly a route where many will be targeting a PB so not the end of the world.
The bar in the finish village was well stocked and many runners were installed and enjoying a deserved post-run pint when we left as the final waves of 10k runners were making their way out onto the course.