Listen carefully, I will say this only once: I’ve never wanted to run the Alloa half marathon. Two reasons:
- There’s a five mile long straight.
- There’s a five mile long straight!
(Except for 50 metre kink in the middle where you run down a street then run up it again).
I like drunk running, the kind that doesn’t involve any straight lines. I like scary movie running, the kind that promises a surprise around every corner. I don’t want to see where I’m going for the next half an hour as I move forward in a long line of other people all going in the same direction. That’s not running, that’s high energy queueing.
This year I had no choice. I had to run the Alloa half marathon because the race I wanted to run – the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon last weekend – was cancelled due to construction work at the finish line. I had to run something in March and this was the next race on.
Iain’s run it before. His description wasn’t promising.
“See that five mile stretch?”
“It’s horrible when it’s straight into the wind – also it’s hillier than you think.”
“I thought it was flat?”
And he was right. The race isn’t flat, the first three miles are uphill, the tenth mile features a long climb to a roundabout. Even the flat section is a slight rise. It wasn’t fun. Not as a first race. Not when the Balloch to Clydebank half is largely down hill and breaks you in gently to the year.
On the plus side. The race is very well organised with water stations roughly every two miles and roads closed and traffic managed so that it feels like you’re on a closed course.
It’s also very popular with nearly 3,000 runners. We had to queue to get into Alloa. And not a high energy queue, we had to queue bumper to bumper as runners tried to get to the start on time.
It was the same story on the way out. Not that it’s a surprise that people would queue to get out of Alloa. It’s the kind of town that inspires people to leave…
Despite heavy legs and a couple of breaks to stretch off a tight back, I was pleased with my time. 1 hour 47 minutes – 1 hour 48 if you include the time it took to switch off Strava, which I don’t… 🙂
For a first race, and a thought that I wasn’t running that fast, it turned out to be faster than I expected. I only checked my time on the last mile and was surprised it was just over 1 hour 40 minutes and not closer to 1 hour 50 minutes.
A good start even if Iain did win after running off when I stopped for an energy gel at seven miles. Energy gel breaks don’t count for time, do they? If not, I’m sure I won…
Finally, a warning…
I spotted on the Alloa website a warning that anyone wearing headphones would not be covered by insurance and that headphone wearers ran at their own risk. When I was on my own I switched on a podcast and I have a warning too. Don’t listen to Russell Brand’s Under The Skin podcast about politics, economics and social theory when running. Big words don’t make you run faster