Retford Half Marathon (08/03/2020)
The Retford Half Marathon though 80 miles from Hull is not unkown to Hull runners. It is organised by Retford Athletic Club and attracts approximately 1 200 entrants each year. It leaves Retford from Retford Oaks Academy on Babworth Road and travels through the local North notts countryside, which looks very similar to our East Yorkshire countryside unsurprisingly. The first 5 miles are flat and there are a few rises(including a small railway bridge at mile 11 which we never appreciate running up), the last couple of miles are downhill but because the road (Worksop Road) is not closed and runners are required to run on the left you have to be careful when overtaking as the footpath is narrow in some places. So its not like the North East Lincs or Boston halfs which are very flat but not too arduous and a good time beckons for those who have trained appropriately.
John first ran it in 2016 and has only missed it once since due to being ill. Last year he persuaded me to register for it and I really enjoyed it until mile 10 when I had a sharp pain in my right knee around mile 10 which forced me to almost walk the last three miles. John finished just under two hours and I was behind him just over two hours. I was reluctant to run it this year as was recovering from a bad cold I had before the Ferriby 10 and not in very good shape but changed my mind and accompany John. Last year Guy Gibson was there but this year we didn’t see any Harriers and only one person, Ken Upshall from Hull.
As I’ve said above I was recovering from a cold and so my target was two hours or below. John had not been running a lot due to various reasons and his target was around 2:20:00. Last year’s race had also psychologically affected me and I was desperate not to have a repeat of the right knee pain I had last year after 10 miles so I made sure I warmed up properly this time as we got there an hour early to ensure we got parking. I also decided to try jelly babies (before the race, at mile 6 and mile 10) this time to see if they would make a difference but not sure if they did! To achieve my target I had to run 9 minute miles which is not difficult but like I said I was recovering from cold and psychologically affected from last year’s race but started well and for the first five miles which are flat I was running around 8.30 minute miles. After mile 5 there is a small hill which flattens for about a mile before turning into a country lane with some winding turns before a right turn that takes runners towards Blyth for approximately a mile before doubling back towards Barnby Moor. This is where runners pass each other. From this point the course is mostly downhill upto the 9 mile point, before you head right to join a long undulating country road heading up to the main Worksop road (11 mile point). After mile 5 I started to slow down and from mile 6 to mile 10 I was averaging 9:17 minute miles. My slowest mile was mile 11 due to it being undulating and me being a bit cautious about the knee pain. The knee pain did not materialise so as soon as I turned into Worksop road I was feeling confident and threw caution to the wind and sped up and started overtaking quite a few runners in front of me. It was exhilarting to be knee pain or cramp free after 10 miles! In fact the adrenalin rush was such that as I neared the finish I gave it a good sprint for the last 100 yards at a speedy (for me) 6:52 m/mile!
My chip time was 1:58:05 which is a PB for me. John’s chip time was 2:06:48 well ahead of his target. The prize this year was a sleeveless t-shirt, medals being only for the podium finishers.
We thoroughly enjoyed the race and would highly recommend it. See you there next year?