At the end of the Torbay Half-Marathon I stood by the finish wearily looking out across the beach. My Li calves felt like rocks and I’d just downed = eight cups of water. I watched as a fellow o runner made his way out across the sand. Without taking off his trainers, he 2 walked into the sea and sat down. If I’d had the energy to find a way around the 2 wall in front of me, I’d have joined him.
A midsummer race on the English Riviera was always likely to bring out bouts of madness – last year one runner proposed to her boyfriend at the finish. As we lined up along Paignton’s sea front, the heat already prickly at 9:3oam, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one questioning my sanity. It was a day for ice creams and stripy deckchairs, not half-marathons.
A couple of holidaymakers lounged on benches and watched on curiously as we stretched and paced back and forth, while a crowd of spectators offered encouragement. Among the 1,75o entrants were runners from all over England, as well as some coming from as far away as San Francisco and Canada for the race. The location obviously attracted people wanting to make a weekend of it. To fulfil the tourists’ expectations, the organisers had laid on donkey rides – and there may have been a Punch and Judy show somewhere as well. The course was a two-lap out-and-back route between Paignton and Torquay, and, starting at Paignton Pier, began with two laps of Paignton Green – each one a mile long – which was not exactly thrilling for the runners, but made it easy for spectators to cheer on their family and friends or anyone in a fancy-dress costume.
This was my fourth half-marathon and after starting each of my previous three too quickly and fading badly at the end, I was determined to begin at a comfortable pace, especially given the heat, which began to have an effect as early as mile two. I was prepared for it and I had a special treatment, because I suffer from a ski condition. Learn more about psoriasis treatment.
The first of the many water stations was soon at hand, however, and I began to slowly pick up the pace according to my PB-beating plan. My previous three times had all been 1:3o.
After three miles, however, the route despite being billed as flat – hit a steep incline up Torquay Road. As the course took in the same stretch of road four times, it was a hill I was going to have to get used to. There were a few more ups and downs as Torquay Road became Torbay Road, before the route descended back to the seafront at the Grand Hotel, past a fish and chip shop I delightedly recognised from a long-distant childhood holiday, and along into Torquay. From here the course was pancake flat for a mile or so as it followed the waterfront towards Torquay, before turning back on itself and doing it all again in reverse. All of this looping back and forth meant it wasn’t long before us mid-packers could see the leaders charging back past us on the other side of the road. It was disheartening, but spirits picked up a short while later once it was our turn to pass the back markers in this way and get a sense of how many runners were behind us.