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Having never taken part in any event or race with others, I knew it would be valuable experience to do an organised event before running the TCS London Marathon 2023 so I signed up for the Thorney Island Half Marathon 14 May 2022.

My race numberThis was quite an experience. My first mistake was arriving at the venue too early, 7.30am as suggested, some 90 minutes before the start, having been informed that limited parking was available. The reality was parking was available in three large fields, in addition to the “limited” car park for 150 cars.  It did gave me time to have a nice coffee and get ready. Half an hour to go I went to the start point and tried to start up conversation with fellow runners but everyone seemed a bit preoccupied.

Thorney Island half marathon starter's orders!At 8.55am we were under starter’s orders, given a pre-race informative talk and then it was time to run through the timed starting gate. I didn’t want to go first, but I was damned if I was letting 50 or 60 runners get the march on me. Mistake number two. Within the first 3 minutes, I felt I was causing a bottleneck as “faster” runners appeared desperate to get past me. At each opportunity a few more sped past. After being pushed to go faster than I would have usually at this early stage, I elected to step aside and let about 50 run through. A few minutes later the urge for a wee got too much and I went behind the bushes allowing another 50 or so through too. After about 3km mark a younger runner hobbled down the bank injured, his race was over. I decided to run at my pace, which to my surprise was quicker than normal and gradually I started passing some of the early overtakers, and positioned myself between a slower crowd behind and another pod of runners some distance away. Not long after this, I found the official photographer who took two nice shots of me.Enjoying the experience

There were water stops at around 6km intervals, so I refilled my water bottle at each one and the marshalls were excellent. I had three High 5 energy Gels with me which I rationed out at 8km, 13km and 18km. They definitely helped me keep up my pace.

Running into the late morning sun was a new experience for me and it was getting hotter, with little or no wind even on the coast. Everyone was grateful for the shady sections along the roads, especially me as I am more accustomed to running on pavements to trail running and found the overgrown section of a ploughed field, short sections of beach stones and areas of powder sand challenging. Despite this, at about 18km I found I was passing some more of the early stampede herd that had set off at pace and towards the end. I even passed some people half my age, who were not only walking to the finish, but applauding me! Something I will never forget.


During the last 3km I decided to speed up for the finish, which after nearly twoMy first race medal hours constant running, (I usually stop for a short breather every 5km during my runs) couldn’t come soon enough. I found I was hindered due to people walking and narrow pathways near the end. Nevertheless, my time was a new personal best (PB) of 2 hours 8mins. I finished 137 out of 334 runners and 7th out of 12 over 60s.

I left delighted, satisfied and proud, with my first medal. My only issue during the race being a quite numb right foot at the half-way point (like pins and needles), which I have put down to the faster initial pace and the heat. The lessons learned are to run the first half at a slower pace, start further back, behind those wanting to hare off, go to the toilet 10 minutes before the start not during and get to the venue no more than half an hour before the start.

Thorney Island Half-Marathon routeI enjoyed the experience so much that I have signed up for the Chichester half-marathon on 25 September 2022, which has a hill up and down and is again a mixture of trail and road surfaces.

Lovely scnerey during the race

Running Thorney Island Half Marathon

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