Isle of Wight Half Marathon 2018 – The Marshal’s Cut! By Sarah Probert
Given that the famous IOW Half Marathon course is 13.1 miles of relentless hills, twists and turns (as all you mainlanders discovered!), it still managed to attract the interest of over 350 runners on its 34th outing on Sunday 19th August.
The event (as with all sporting events) requires the time and dedication of loyal volunteers clad in familiar and often ill-fitting Hi-Vis offerings to set up, man and secure the route from the minute the runners arrive to the minute they collapse in a heap across the finish line. I was privileged to be one of said volunteers on this particular occasion (telling myself and the million other people who asked why I wasn’t running, that I was very much needed to help out and not at all that I was scared of being the last Harrier home!) and had the honour of greeting all the runners whilst they were still happy – aka I was on sign on / number collection at the start! I had offered my services previously wherever was needed but was informed “You can’t bloody marshal the course!! You can’t bloody see!” Ok, this is a valid point but directing trusting runners to follow my directions when my internal compass is shot to bits would have added a unique dimension to the event, no?
Having dragged the husband along for added brawn, I was pleased to note he had been put in charge of gazebo erection and donkeying water containers around and made a mental note to add to his list of DIY jobs once we got home.
By 11:30, all runners had set off, Sign On was closed down and I headed up to find Master of Ceremonies – Chris Lewis – for my next instructions. The breeze and drizzle had increased significantly and my hair now resembled a pan scourer (anyone wondering why I always run in a hat, now you know!) but I made every effort to hide my dismay when Chris asked me to set up the drinks station out in the open. For future reference, running a hilly 13.1 miles is hugely favourable to holding down plastic cups whilst attempting to fill with Robinson’s Apple & Blackcurrant in a gale force 10!
My final duty of the day was on the finish line with Dave again, writing down the numbers as the runners approached (in case the chip timing failed!). This is a job I highly recommend to everyone should they get the opportunity! These amazing athletes, every single one of them from the unbelievable Matt Sharp and Joe Wade who were the first to finish, our very own ‘1st Lady’ Charlie Metcalfe and 1st Harrier home – Adam Tuck, to the quartet than ran in Power Rangers costumes, the couples that ran together, friends that ran in groups and the awe-inspiring and determined runners that just kept going until the end! Smiles, cheers, tears and wobbly legs – we had it all!! I even got cake from Joy! Fantastic running from every Harrier that took part – the sea of red is always stunning to see at these occasions and congratulations to everyone involved for an awesome event! I may even attempt it myself next year! (maybe)
Isle of Wight Half Marathon 2018 – The Runner’s Cut! By Trevor McAlister
Despite the civilised start time of 11:30 some runners still had an early start on race day, volunteering to do pre-& post-race duties in addition to running. After our alternative team photo, we all made our way up to the start area, where I hope Chris’s new ‘finish time’ signs enabled people to get into a sensible start position.
And then we were off, to a not particularly fast start, particularly as the first 300m was up Appley lane. And then along Appley Road, which was closed to traffic for the first time this year. Knowing that we could use the entire left lane was good when jostling for positions in the early stages, although having to dodge the ‘road closed’ traffic signs didn’t help. We will get the traffic management right eventually.
Less than a mile in and we meet the first hill going up Calthorpe Road, then at the end of the closed road section turned right along Bullen Road and on to the first off road section. The views at the top of the hill at 3 miles down into Nettlestone & Seaview were good, but when we came back the same way later in the course, the exposed nature of the landscape made it hard work against the wind.
We re-joined the road and head back through Nettlestone on the first small loop, as we approached the end of the loop and headed up Pondwell Hill, I’m shore most runners were relieved, even before they got to the top of the hill, that we only have to do it once now, compared to twice on the 2016 route.
Off down the off-road section again, but this time coming out on Beaper Shute and the long loop up through St Helens, which always seems to take ages for the village green to appear, with its little hills that keep going up. On through St Helens, with its supporters sitting outside the pub, and back along the off-road section going in the other direction this time.
I was hoping to pick up the pace a bit along the flatter sections in the last 2 miles, but my legs were too tired for that, so I was glad to finish and only be 2 minutes slower than last year despite the wind. Others had a much better day, nocking several minutes of their previous course PBs, and the ladies doing very well in the age category prizes.
It was all good fun, and those hills are all good training for the IOW fells & IOW Marathon coming up soon.