Heaton Park – half marathon race report

Yesterday I ran the 7th half marathon of 2019 – I am planning one a month for the whole year. I picked this one in Heaton Park (north of Manchester) for convenience really – the date worked for a start. And my eldest son lives in Stockport so I stayed with him and he very kindly drove me there and back from his house, as well as supporting me round the course. Thank you Tom!

Heaton Park is a 600 acre park bought by Manchester City Council in 1902 from the Earl of Wilton. Heaton Hall in the middle of the park, is a Grade 1 listed building and a Hall has been there since the Middle Ages. The current neoclassical Hall was designed by James Wyatt in 1772. There are several interesting buildings in the Park which was laid out in the style of Capability Brown by William Emes. I had plenty of opportunity to take in some of the features because the run was 4 and half laps of the Park!

Sunday morning dawned – the rain was literally bucketing down. Pouring! The irony – I’ve done 6 runs right through from January, and every one has been dry, and then come July, middle of summer, and it’s the wettest ever! It did stop a bit (thank goodness) by the time we got there, and just drizzled for the rest of the morning. And it certainly wasn’t cold.

Through an intriguing archway of trees, and through a puddle – one of the smaller ones on the course.

There was a good crowd, which got bigger as the morning went on, as there was also a 5k and a 10k run (fewer laps…) which started 30 minutes later than the half marathon. It was good to see a real mix of people taking part. I would say that quite a lot of the 5k and 10k participants were first timers too which is lovely. The more the merrier! The organisation/facilities were, in my opinion, a bit hit and miss. The signs from the car park weren’t great – maybe most people were local and knew the way. Also the toilets were awful – dirty, doors that wouldn’t close and no paper. A shame, as the people organising it and the marshalls were lovely. And the signs around the course were a complete mystery – a mix of blue ones and yellow ones, no clue as to whether they were talking miles or kilometres, or which run they referred to. I totally ignored them pretty much from the start, and relied on my watch and the fabulous marshall at the end of the lap who managed to tell everyone passing how many more laps they had to do even when faced with half a dozen runners doing 21k, 10k or 5k coming towards him! The course was hillier than I expected (but then I don’t know what I based my expectations on?!). There was one quite long hill in particular that really was a bit of a killer, and we had to do it FOUR times! That’s why I am not a fan of lapped races. It gets a bit tedious, and you know what’s coming up. However there was a friendly young man marshalling half way up who was really encouraging. Thank you to him!

The boating lake – built over a racecourse between 1908-1912 by men using shovels and hand carts!

The good points – nice medal. I can’t say it was a fab medal but it’s perfectly ok and feels solid. The course was good overall (in spite of the laps), and although I feel I am becoming a trails convert, it was good to run on solid paths given the extreme wetness of the day! The nicest bit of the course was passing the friendly lion and lioness statues at the south entrance of the Hall. They had such lovely faces! And seeing Tom cheering me on each round made me run that little bit faster. The goodies at the end of the race were very tasty – particularly the flapjack that looked and tasted home made. And the bag of salted roasted corn and the dried banana snack were very welcome later when the train home was delayed by an unexpected technical fault and everyone had to change at Nuneaton. In the rain.

In the background you can see the friendly lions!

Would I do that run again? No. Would I run another one organised by RunThrough? Maybe. Would I run another half marathon? Well yes of course – 5 more to go! I am doing the next one in 2 weeks! Yikes!

Official chip time 2:06:38 – my legs were killing me by the end!

I am raising money to help JDRF fund research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes – a lifelong serious autoimmune condition that affects thousands of children and adults in the UK (millions across the world). I am so grateful to everyone who has donated so generously already. If you would like to make a donation – however small – please click here. My page is open until the end of the year, when hopefully I will have completed my mission of 12 half marathons!

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