A dodgy knee PB – Reading Half Marathon race review

It’s been a while..

Without ruining my ‘catch up’ blog post, yeah I’ve got a dodgy knee. There were a few days where I thought about actually pulling out of the Reading half but I decided to just go and enjoy it.

I’ve run it twice before and it’s easily my favourite race. It’s also the course that I did my first half marathon 4 years ago in 2:44.

Random side note.. It’s actually one of my long term goals to do a full marathon in the time that it took me to run my first half marathon. Anyway, let’s get to the race review..

Pre race

In terms of price, it’s quite an expensive race (£39), but in my opinion it’s definitely worth that. As I’ve done the race a few times already, I didn’t really need to research the course or the hills or anything like that. But I was mentally preparing for the two ‘big’ hills that Reading has to offer.

The organisation of the Reading Half has always been decent but I thought it was even better this year. I parked in Reading and then got the free shuttle bus up to the race village. There were more than enough buses and also taxis were doing a flat rate of £10 to get you there.

This was the first time I’d actually looked around the race village, so obviously I went to the retail tent first. I believe it was Alton Sports that were there and they had some really good 2nd hand shoe deals. I grabbed a pair of Nike Pegasus Turbo’s for £20, which I’m really happy about.

After that, I just went into the stadium to put the magic slippers on (Vaporflys). The race notes told us to walk to the start line at about 9am which turns out is way too early. It was only about 5 minutes from the race village so I had to go for a walk and then warmup. After a few trips to the toilet it was nearly start time..

The race

The start of the race was a bit weird.. Not the line up, that was well organised but they made people wait a long time before setting off each pace group. Also, I chose 1:45 when I signed up but they wouldn’t actually let me in that pace group, I had to go in with the 1:40’s.

I knew from the experience of the Wokingham half that I had to go out at a comfortable pace and not fly off. I was treating this as more of a training run anyway so a PB wasn’t my main goal. The first 2 miles go really quickly and then you get to the first hill. It’s an absolute beast! If you haven’t done any hill training then you’ll struggle. After that though it’s nice and flat and then you end up running through the university. This bit is usually nice and busy and is the first of many places where you can grab a lucosade.

One of my favourite parts is when you run toward the town centre and then go under the road bridge by the Oracle. They have really loud drums there and it’s hard not to be super motivated after that.

The route then takes you through the town centre which is always packed with spectators. I think what makes Reading Half so good is the support. Thousands of people give up their time to cheer on random people and it makes a huge difference.

After the high of the town centre, along comes the 2nd and last big hill. It’s a short but steep hill, luckily followed by a nice downhill section. I think that’s at roughly 8 or 9 miles, so getting towards the business end of the run.

The real tough bit starts at 11 miles in my opinion. You turn the corner and there’s a 2 mile long road to the finish line. It’s tough at the best of times but with the added wind I did slow down on that stretch.

Once you have the finish line in sight though it’s a special feeling. What makes Reading Half special is the stadium finish and I’ll never get bored of it. You feel like a genuine athlete running into a stadium with hundreds of people watching.

Verdict

I’m obviously a bit biased when it comes to this race because I live in Reading (the RG postcode anyway) but every person I asked, said they also loved it. The support is outstanding and the route is perfect. Not too flat and boring but not too tough either. The organisation was good and the stadium finish is incredible.

If you’re looking for a training race for a spring marathon, I’d definitely recommend this one!

I’m going to be doing a ‘catch up’ post very soon so I’ll cut this one off now. Thanks for reading, peace.

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