Report by Lucy Broom
Race Date: Sunday 24th February 2019
2019 was the 29th year of the Grand Brighton Half Marathon; one of the first major half marathons in the race calendar, and now one of the most popular races in the UK. The race was set up in the 1990s, by a small group of people who used the proceeds from the first race, to fund the building of The Sussex Beacon, the charity who organise the race.
The course starts and ends on the sea front near the pier. The first half wends its way out and back over undulating cliffs and the second half follows a pancake flat route briefly into the city centre, then out towards Hove Lagoon, before turning back along the seafront for the last three miles. We woke to an absolutely stunning day. Bright sunshine, blue cloudless sky, gentle breeze. I think the unseasonable weather took many people by surprise. Lots of runners were way overdressed and I saw a number of people receiving medical attention.
My big mistake was joining yet another long toilet queue for a fourth ‘just in case’ wee, rather than my usual lucky three. As the clock ticked towards 9.30, I wrestled with the ‘do I stay, do I abandon it?’ dilemma. I stuck it out and sprinted to my pen at 9.28, having completely underestimated the scale of the race, and joined another queue, this time to enter the pen. And suddenly the gun went off! Luckily people let us filter in, but I was much further back than planned, and presumably nowhere near the 1.30 pacer I was hoping to chase down.
The first mile was stressfully slow as I weaved around people, trying to get forward. The congestion eased a little but the next 3 miles were similarly slow, due to my frustratingly sluggish legs and tight hamstrings. I knew there was a chance my legs would feel this way; it’s been an ongoing issue recently; and I guess high marathon mileage plus minimal taper does not always equal speedy racing!
By mile 6 I knew that today was not my day to achieve the hoped for sub 1.30. It wasn’t about motivation, my legs just didn’t have it in them. At this point, I made the decision to take my eyes off my watch and enjoy myself. I’ve had a 25 year love affair with Brighton, and in recent years, with running in Brighton. I’ve had many wonderful runs by the sea and two incredible marathon experiences, and I didn’t want to taint my memories by feeling grumpy about missing an arbitrary time.
And enjoy it I certainly did! Especially in those last three miles. The sun was shining, the sea was sparkling, the atmosphere amazing. I grinned until my face hurt, high fived children and interacted with the crowd. I saw my lovely family at miles 7 and 11. It’s fair to say my husband was quite confused (and no doubt relieved) that I seemed simultaneously happy and slow! Altogether a joyful and uplifting experience, and actually a pleasant surprise to see 1.35 on the clock at the finish.
The race was won by Paul Navesey from Crawley AC, in a time of 01:04:56; and the female winner was Fiona de Mauny from Herne Hill Harriers, in a time of 01:20:25. I was the sole Strider. There were 7409 finishers.
Link to full results here.