Well I stood at the starting post for this race in some trepidation. 15 days before Cork and I wasn’t sure if I should really be racing or not. However St Hal said run 12 miles so it was just a case of going a bit faster than I’ve been doing in training!
I’ve run this course several times before and it’s a beauty. It was my first ever Half and also the one on which I set my PB (1:50.15) three years ago. It starts on a high point on Jersey’s north coast and climbs gently from 300ft to 400ft in the first three miles before flattening out and inching downhill through St John, St Lawrence, St Mary and into St Ouen. Then at mile 11 is the highlight – the dive down L’Etacq Hill to sea level and a long mile along the coast to the finish.
So, a hot day forecast but that wasn’t evident at the start as a thick sea mist kept it a bit chilly. Late entries added to what was already a record number of runners. After two miles I was puffing a bit but a glance at the Garmin showed 17 minutes and I realised why – I’ve not been used to anything much below 10m/m in recent weeks as I’ve dogged out the heavy miles.
As if someone had thrown a switch the sun appeared and it was lovely, if you were feeling good, as I was. I forgot about the watch and ran by instinct, feeling strong and enjoying the Jersey countryside, chatting with fellow competitors and waving at the supporters along the route. Into St Ouen around nine miles is where I’d expected to come under pressure, but not today. L’Etacq Hill and the long last mile and still I felt strong. Turning the corner with 200m to go you instinctively speed up with the crowds and gantry ahead, but then came the Chariots of Fire! On my shoulder appeared tricky local lawyer Steve – he’s done this to me before, appearing late in races. So off we speeded towards the finishing post, the crowds cheering the mad fools. I inched ahead coming up to the line, but fatally eased up. How many times have I drummed that into young athletes? Steve outdipped me to his great glee.
But what cared I? 1:46.12 and a full four minutes inside my PB. And I laughed out loud on seeing the official results which showed the judges had me ahead of Steve! A big up for Paul Raimbault and the Hash organisers for another impeccably organised event.
So I go into the last two weeks of the taper high on confidence.