On Friday, fireworks explode as you walk down to the surf. Today, a samba band plays as you walk from Pembroke Castle in a parade to the start line at the end of the High Street. Yesterday, we were at a car park and a man in a fluorescent tabard said “You might as well go then”. I think Saturday needs to get its act together…
The start of the Wales half-marathon is impressive. Arguably, more impressive than the marathon we’d watch start two hours earlier in Tenby.
The marathon runners start in the centre of Tenby, run to Pembroke and then come back via the half marathon route. The start is crowded with a couple of narrow 90 degree turns. The start for the half marathon takes place on a wide street, the main street of Pembroke, and has music, a parade, and something Tenby can’t top – a huge castle.
Also Pembroke has Constance Brown’s cafe/chippy, which is almost as old. We’d discovered it on Friday when we popped over to see the castle. Constance opened the cafe in 1928 and was still serving chips there over 80 years later at 102 years old. She’d died at 104 but the cafe hadn’t changed. Neither had the prices, which was handy when we were looking for a cheap and quick lunch.
Originally I was going to run the marathon but that was before I was successful in the Norseman ballot. Now, with four weeks to go, it would be stupid to try and run and marathon and then Norseman a month later. It was the right choice as, while the first few miles were fairly flat, the next 10 were more up and down than a nodding dog.
I’d decided to keep a steady pace, Iain decided to run. Within a mile he was gone and, with him, my chances of beating him this weekend. I didn’t want to try and keep up, I had a plan and was sticking to it. Instead I listened to Hamilton, the musical and kept a steady pace. A pace which would, I’d soon find out, overtake Iain.
At mile 10, I saw him. I felt strong so poked him in the back then ran away. He didn’t follow and I had a clear lead for the last three miles, which were largely downhill until a vicious wee kick up half a mile from the finish.
And then – a cock up.
There was a red carpet finish. I thought the start of the carpet was the finish line as it was marked with a gantry. I sprinted. I crossed the line. I stopped. I got told off by a man in the crowd who said “You’re not finished yet – it’s another 20 metres!”
Luckily, Iain was still behind me, so I was able to sprint again and finish in 1 hour 48 minutes.
I grabbed a quick selfie with Tenby’s mayor at the finish line – “Can I have a mayor selfie?” I asked, in what I think is the Debrett’s acceptable style for asking for a selfie from a mayor – I was presented with a medal in an alleyway and I was done. Weekend over.
The Long Course (Long) Weekend is a cracking weekend. Each event is well run. The swim is in a beautiful habour. The bike ride is varied and challenging. The run is on closed roads with some great open views across south west Wales. If you get a bed & breakfast in town then you’re only minutes from each start and finish line. But…
… if you live in Glasgow or anywhere outside Wales, then check how long it takes to get there. Wales is deceptively far away. And it’s no surprise that it’s national emblem is the dragon because while you drive through it you will definitely think “Boy, does this drag on!”.