Just over 11 years ago I did my very first Half Marathon and it was that race which brought me under the wing of an exceptional Running Club, that introduced me to some amazing people and inspired me to run many more half marathons, my favourite distance!
It was too good an opportunity to miss when I heard that Kenilworth Runners would be testing some tweaks to the Kenilworth Half Marathon route in preparation for the 2019 race. It was a cool Wednesday morning, and after meeting up at the War Memorial with Arthur's Allsorts Wednesday morning group we moved to the Leaders Estate Agents, sponsors of the event and where the race would commence.
We continued out of the Castle grounds back onto Castle Road and then headed down Brookside Avenue and on to Archer Road - a new stretch before joining the familiar Fishponds Road and round up John O'Gaunt Road, where the race historically headed out from Castle Farm. Now in our stride as we turned from Rounds Hill onto Rouncil Lane...we enjoyed a good chat and regularly compared our watch stats, distance and pacing. The faster group led by Stu Martin had vanished ahead aiming for eight and a half minute miles, but we enjoyed the undulations along Rouncil Lane where we had a long view of the road ahead. We stopped at the five mile point for a quick gel...
Pushing on we turned onto Red House Farm Lane where there was a familiar cheeky hill, I recognised from the Warwick Half Marathon route and then we turned left down Kites Nest Lane, a lovely quiet section with no traffic and farmers fields all around. There was a surprisingly little incline to bear sharp right as we reached the furthest point out from Kenilworth and cut across to rejoin Red House Farm Lane and we looped back via another little loop on Honily Road. We met Keith, a Kenilworth Runner who had been supporting on his bike but had pitched at just over halfway for us to have some water. It was lovely to see Keith as he had been one of the guys I originally trained with for that first Kenilworth Half Marathon I did back in 2008 (doesn't time fly!)
It was great to know we were on the homeward bound stretch and our pacing was evening out - in fact it was quicker in the final five miles as we retraced our steps back up Rouncil Lane and back into town, with another gel stop at the 10 mile point. Analysing Strava afterwards, this was the quickest section of the course, with two sections of downhill.. so it was definitely worth running slow and steady in the first half.. especially when you take on the infamous 'Rouncil Lane Hill'. If you check out this Strava section - there are some very familiar faces in the top three women - one of which is Rachel Miller - who was running some way ahead of us! I am currently 232nd :ol
So we turned the corner, from Fishponds onto Siddeley Avenue and then Randall Road which would take us back to the High Street where a sharp left would put the Clock Tower in our sights for the final furious stretch! My watch was stopped at the Clock Tower and it reported 12.85 miles - which was much shorter than my running companions. I can only put this down to the auto-pause on my Garmin, particularly with the photo-calls at the beginning of the run and gel stops. I was thrilled that it still entitled me to the KHM medal (albeit 2018) - it was a real treat and will be positioned proudly at the other end of my Half Marathon hanger, balanced very appropriately by the one I received in 2008... and a lot bigger!
Thank you so much Kenilworth Runners for making todays run a lot easier than the first one - in fact my time was a few minutes quicker and that included the stops and a good social pace! It was lovely chatting away to Dave about races, past and future... I wish him all the best for the Yorkshire Marathon this year which is maybe one I should consider. Nah..... stick to the halves! :D
Please watch a video of the route by clicking this link...Relive the KHM reccy