Race date: Monday 30th August 2021
Canterbury Half Marathon 2021 kicked off in, believe it or not, Canterbury – yes, the one south of Watford – at 10 am on a wonderful sunny and warm summer day. Actually is was cool, cloudy and rainy – perfect for running, anyway.
Myself and 341 other runners queued up in a country lane a bit outside Canterbury following a short but lively (and at times exciting, owing to narrow roads and other drivers) bus ride. After swapping the usual somewhat improbable stories with other runners, we set off a bit oddly by crossing the finish line after 20 metres or so.
My hopes were dashed when very friendly southern accents pointed out that we had to cross the line from the other direction….
The run itself wended its way through lots of glorious Kent countryside complete with picturesque villages, mansions, the odd thatched roof, endless drives, farms and of course, orchards. And Range Rovers. It was a very pleasant run indeed.
The support was amazing. It seemed that somebody had come out to cheer (or laugh) pretty much along the whole course – I couldn’t work out where many of them were actually coming from as trees play a very large part of the scenery. Lots of cheers and much laughter – great involvement from children including one 4/5 year old who seemed to be purveying homemade biscuits with great enthusiasm and sadly, little success.
Being Kent, the roads were narrow and this involved negotiating traffic as well as directions in places. There was an awkward moment involving a horse truck but mercifully its width did allow a 30 cm gap on one side. Mercifully the driver stopped and the nettles were mostly slipstreamed away.
Lots of runners were mentioning the hills on the course – I found myself mentioning Sheffield a lot and encouraging everyone with tales of the Sheffield Half (280m of ascent) and the Round Sheffield Run (570m). My Garmin measured Canterbury as 224m and even I didn’t stop.
There was a great and even personal reception at the end as by the time I turned up, there weren’t many runners still out there and the announcer had time to find names on his list. As I always try to do a sprint (yes I know it was slow) at the end I wasn’t paying much attention to anything beyond the finish line and I only just missed being braked by the chap handing out the gongs. He turned out to be the mayor and a thoroughly nice, if somewhat windswept – we missed each other by a small margin – chap.
A great day.
John Payne of Victoria Park Harriers and Tower Hamlets AC cam first in 01:12:03; first lady home was Renata McDonnell of Deal Tri Club in 01:31:11.
The full results are here
As far as I know, I was the only Strider there but if I’m wrong, please say so!