Report by Kate Waddicor
Race Date: Sunday 14th May 2023
I have run Bristol 10k and Bristol half marathon previously – they used to be at different times of the year. This year the 10k and the half were both on 14th May. The 10k started at 9.30 and the half started at 10.30, so not a very early start for me!
My daughter lives in Bristol so I have run there a lot either in races or just to be out and about in Bristol. She lives very near to the start so it was just a 25 minute walk for me and no need to use the baggage busses.
It felt very busy at first until I realised that a lot of the people were there for the 10k. They announced that there were about 12 thousand runners with approximately half in each event. Earlier in the morning there had also been a family fun run. If you are closing city centre roads and the Portway (a dual carriage way and the approach to Bristol centre from the M5/Birmingham/North of England.) it makes sense to have all of your races on the same day.
I felt well prepared and almost recovered from Manchester marathon four weeks earlier. I know the route (but had underestimated the amount of cobbled roads in the city centre and the amount of ‘looping the loop’ involved). In 2015, my last half marathon in Bristol, the last three miles were slightly different so there were less cobbles and winding about.
It was well organised with plenty of loos (always important!). There was an event village with the usual baggage area, information point and various stalls set up. There was also an area for the finish where you could meet family and I think lots of opportunities for food and drinks but I just met my family and strolled back to their house for food!
There were constant reminders that the day was going to be hot – it was but not unbearable. We were told there were three water stations (yes, three!) which was fine but not overly generous compared to other races I have done and with the predicted heat. Not sure how people who were out on the course longer than me might have coped. I think the team of guys running in Speedos looked the coolest (I shall say no more!)
There were pacers and different start pens. I was in orange wave, the first wave to set off after the wheelchairs and elite runners. I chose my starting position with care so I would not be tempted to go off too quickly. It didn’t feel too busy as we headed out for the Portway, plenty of space for us running out to the four mile point before turning and heading back for the centre. It was good to see the front runners storming back! The Portway is slightly uphill (nothing like Sheffield and other hills of Bristol but I remember that it is a gently climb, lets say Abbeydale Road type running). I was making good time and looking forward to the slight descent after the turn round point. We ran under the Clifton Suspension bridge on the out and back section – on the return section I was almost deafened by a pacer shouting, just as he passed me, the classic Oggi Oggi Oggi, followed by the group of runners responding with Oy, Oy, Oy. I was happy to let him go as he was pacing slightly quicker than I needed. Also happy to save my breath.
I kept to my intended plan until mile 10 and mile 12 where the narrow, twisty section through the city centre with the cobbles slowed me a little. I managed to pick up some pace on mile 11 and again for the last mile and a decent run to the finish. I finished in 1.57.24 and first in FV65 category, happy runner here.
Would I do it again? Yes because I have family in Bristol and a place to stay. I would be better prepared for the cobbles – I know I need to practice running on different surfaces and overcome my fear or tripping. Not all roads are smooth!
Would I recommend it? Yes because it is a great way to see the City.
First man was Alex Milne (Hercules Wimbledon AC) in 1:08:55 and first lady was Charlie Arnell (Milton Keynes Distance Project) in 1:17:00. Kate was the only Strider listed in the Half.
Link to full results here.
Striders Half marathon results:
First man was Chris Thompson in 29:45 and first lady was Gemma Steele in 34:09
Strider Chris White ran the 10k in 57:50.