Followers of our Facebook page will have seen us link to Hana Clitherow’s amusing write-ups as she aims to run thirteen half marathons this year. Well now she has kindly agreed to let us cross-post her articles, which we’re delighted to do. Here she talks about the Tavy 13, and features more information about Isobel Wykes than Izzy might like us to know…!
Fifth half marathon in 6 weeks here we come and with limited time, today’s race report is going to have to be brief…….well for my standards that is. “Husband who plays golf and son in the forces” keep chuntering at me and the large glass of post-race red is making this task increasingly difficult. Not running the race, but typing the report.
Anyway, I awoke to a dry cool morning, ate my standard Porridge breakfast and then “Sydney Skoda” and myself drove the 60 odd miles up the A30 followed by the B3362 from Launceston to Tavistock, a journey I make every fortnight to my mother’s. The road is quiet and I make good time.
I arrive at Tavistock College and find the car park almost full, but luckily there are two “Sydney Skoda” size parking bays left so I squeeze him into one, then make my way to the race HQ in the college sports hall. Today I am race No 107 and because I have gone for the economy entry, (a mere £8) I don’t get the T shirt to go with the entry. As I have a drawer full of Race T Shirts I really don’t mind, and an £8 race entry fee for a Half Marathon is a bargain.
In no time at all, I’m joined by “Our Diane” who has travelled up with two of her work mates then Steve Rawson arrives. Wow three TRC runners. Toilet check out time I think? Outside the sports hall there are 4 green portable vestibules for the use of, but a long queue has already formed. They don’t smell too good either, so we head into the main college building where it is signed for a Ladies changing area. One toilet, one very short queue, no toilet seat, hardly any loo roll, but it serves its purpose.
Back outside, all kitted up for the off, we find Isobel who is in search of toilets. Now she should be the one writing the review today, as I later find out that she found a toilet on each of the 3 floors of the school and I do believe she used all 3 of them. No wonder she is so fast!
So TRC becomes a team of 4 then 5 as Phil Spargo also joins us. Where were the rest of you? Ah probably recovering from ‘The Dark’ or out on your bikes I suppose.
The start line is on the athletics track, and to be honest I didn’t hear any race briefing or count down, I just hit the start button on my Garmin as we all headed off on this bright and beautiful morning. The sky was blue, the sun was out and the air temperature was cool. We run around half of the 400m track then out the gate and onto the road leading to the A386. At this junction we turn left passing Drakes memorial and my legs feel leaden. I feel as if I’ve already run 10 miles when in truth I’ve not even covered a mile. This is bad news.
We turn left again and uphill we all run. There is a very large church to my left and we are marshalled right up a steeper slope and onto the old railway line that is now a cycle/footpath. My chest is now feeling good, my legs have eased and at last I seem to be able to settle into a reasonable pace. I even have the ability to briefly chat with another female runner who is running her first Half Marathon in about 20 years. There is a male behind me trying to clear his nose. I want to tell him to use a hanky, but no, snot rockets is what he is attempting to launch and he isn’t doing a very good job.
The cycle path takes us across the top of Tavistock, above Kelly College, where many of GB’s best swimmers used to train. The views to our right are out over the moors and they are stunning. We drop downhill and onto the footpath alongside the A386 which takes you out to Mary Tavy and Okehampton, a great drive on a day like today. A very speedy road cyclist passes by. Head down, ass up and sounding like a rocket as he has one of those solid back wheels.
Soon we cross the A386 and take to the quiet country lanes near Peter Tavy. I know from local knowledge that we will soon be running up a big hill, but thankfully the route breaks the hill into two segments. It is a long slog, but I do not falter, I do not walk, but we have run more than 3 miles and there hasn’t been a water station yet. This is not a problem for me as I don’t partake in liquid or food whilst running, but many others do.
Once the hill has passed, we have a pleasant tree lined downhill/flat section to the junction with the B3357, where there are two marshals with “Stop/Go” boards. They work brilliantly and us runners cross this tricky road safely. I have to say for any cyclists reading this; this is the bottom of a fantastic downhill cycle into Tavistock, or the start of a tortuous uphill that takes you out to Princetown and beyond.
The road now undulates before heading downhill crossing a stream with the start of another hill which again they have broken into two sections, missing a really steep section that gets a single arrow on the ordnance survey map. We pass Langstone Manor where there are Eggs, Preserves and chutneys for sale at the roadside plus it provides a good place to stay in your camper van/tent or in holiday cottages.
Before long we are running just below Pew Tor an area I know well as my mother lives about 1 mile away. The views are wonderful and I soon forget the hills we have climbed as from now on it is undulating flat and downhill to the finish. I’m loving this race, I don’t even feel tired, I’m energised by the scenery, it’s stunning and I can see Brentor to my right, A small tor, with an even smaller church on the top. This section of the route is also part of the Tavy 7 another great race to run at the end of the season.
Suddenly my legs are running faster than my feet, a decidedly weird sensation and probably something I haven’t experienced since I was about 6 years old. It doesn’t last long and I plod on as normal.
At Warrens Cross we head for Tavistock running across Whitchurch down where Tavistock Golf course is also situated and at one point I can see a shiny white golf ball running along the grass to my right. I’m sorely tempted to divert slightly, pick it up as a souvenir and make a quick getaway. Sadly, as we are at mile 10, exit and quick are two things I’m unable to do right now, plus there is a golfer stood watching the ball roll towards him. Blast!
The route takes us across the front of the Golf clubhouse or the 19th to others. We take a slight diversion, passing “The Pimple” a small hut on the moor to our left, then it’s all downhill, down, Down road where you will find probably the best houses in Tavistock. One can only dream! My knees protesting but I manage to reach the bottom in good time.
A road crossing follows. We cross the road that takes you to Whitchurch then we are directed right then left along a lovely leafy footpath above the river Tavy. A bridge crossing follows and we run through a park before heading down an underpass. I can hear the loudspeakers at the college and announcements being made. I check my Garmin and have an “Oh My God” moment. I could be on target to beat my PB for a Half Marathon, so I pick up speed and really go for it. After a mile I realise I had misread my mileage on my Garmin and a PB is now not a possibility. Oh sod it, I just keep pushing hard to see what this Old Croc can do?
The Cycle/footpath we are on seems to go on forever, then all of a sudden, we are back onto the athletics track at the college and we have to run 400 very springy meters. With 100 to go, I pick up my speed even further and overtake two males. I cross the line feeling amazingly good, in 1:50:07. There are no stomach issues, I have enjoyed every minute of this race and so I collect my Goody bag and head for the showers.
No prizes for me today, just 5th V50 female, but Isobel does us proud being the first lady to cross the line and Diane runs a great race as well.
So all in all:
Parking. Plentiful and free.
Race HQ. In a school Hall, so masses of room with a baggage drop area.
Toilets: well you really should ask Isobel, but once again, if you knew where to look, plentiful with minimal to no queue.
Showers. A bank of 8 with 4 freezing cold and 4 hot, but only one with a good spray. Having said that, I had a great shower, so no complaints from me.
Goody bag. A plimsoll bag with a tub of Ambrosia custard and a tub of Ambrosia rice pudding. Then what must be one of the strangest items to find in a goody bag, a sachet of Gravy Paste. I know I crave salt after a race, but I’m not sure I want to try this out.
Will I run this race again? Most definitely. A truly beautiful route with perfect weather today.
[Originally posted March 22nd]
If you would like to read Hana’s earlier Half Marathon posts, you can find them here:
4/13 Falmouth Half
3/13 Bideford Half
1/13 Exeter Trails Half