Ages ago Kyle and I had signed up to the Alton Towers Half Marathon. Sadly when the time came around for it, Kyle was only just coming back from injury from his London Marathon. So he dropped down to the 5k instead, which was also on the Sunday. But to be honest, he was far happier with that distance anyway!
The great thing about these races are that after you’ve finished the race you can then go round the park and do all the rides. We both love theme parks and rollercoasters so this was perfect. And handily my grandad lives about 30 mins from Alton Towers so we could kill two birds with one stone and visit him as well. I don’t get to see him enough so this was really lovely.
After lots of thought, we decided to leave Isaac at home with the Nanas. The drive from Portsmouth is a long one (3.5 hours) which would be hard going for him and then be stuck in the running buggy for most of Sunday. Anyway the Nanas couldn’t wait to look after him so it worked nicely. Of course I missed him and it was hard leaving him… the longest time I’ve been away yet. He had a great time tho in the end.
We arrived at my grandad’s on the Saturday and had a lovely dinner catching up with him properly and then headed to bed early. We were shattered from an early wake up (Isaac doesn’t understand lie ins yet!) and a long drive.
The next morning, after breakfast, we drove up to Alton Towers. The race felt so well organised. We parked and walked to the race village. It was very misty and a bit chilly, but a lot warmer than you’d expect for mid-November.
As my race started first I said goodbye to Kyle and headed off to the start. We did a minute silence for Remembrance Sunday, which was a nice touch, and then the race began.
Having been to Alton Towers many many times in my youth (due to my grandparents living so close) I was well aware that it would be hilly. I mean, straight away, as we began the first 200m, it’s literally uphill. But it was such a cool race in that you were literally running through the park and past all the rollercoasters that I didn’t mind.
We ran past Oblivion and the Smiley, then headed off to other parts of the park. I was behind the 1:40 pacer, tho I didn’t think I’d go that fast. I was keeping to just under 8 min miles and felt comfortable there.
We whizzed through CBeebies Land where there were Telly Tubbies to high five. Then headed round past the gardens (thankfully not down into the gardens because that would be a very steep uphill!), past the Wicker Man and the rapids. There were lots of themed people wearing costumes cheering us on which was cool.
Eventually after going through the park, past all the rides and through the different themed areas and the castle, you head out to the less exciting part which goes round the car parks. To be honest it was fine. There was loads of support from spectators and volunteers so it didn’t feel boring. And you can’t expect the whole race to be exciting all the time. It’s a two lapper, which I quite like. It means you know what’s coming for the rest of the race.
The car park was quite hilly but there were also good downhills to get some speed back. Towards the second lap I put on some music to keep me entertained and I felt myself get far more into the race. I always find the further into a race the better I feel as I warm up. I naturally sped up and felt like I had more energy so this was encouraging.
As I hit the second lap I was really enjoying myself. During the week proceeding I’d felt very tired and demotivated running but now I felt back to normal and was loving it.
I saw Kyle a few times as he’d finished his race and had headed back to the car to get changed and pick up our stuff. He waved and cheered me along.
The crowds as you got back into the park after the car park section were really strong and the cheering was fantastic. It helps that none of the rides are open yet so all the spectators are just watching the race. I high fived loads of kids which is always good fun. Honestly, I had such a good time during this race!
I was so pleased to finish strong with 1:37:30. Far faster than I’d expected.
I met up with Kyle shortly after. He’d had a good race and finished with a time of 21:30. Coming back from injury without much training, he was really chuffed.
And then I popped to the loo, got changed and we headed to the rides that were now slowly opening up. We had such a good rest of the day enjoying all the rides and being like kids again. Kyle got a doughnut chicken burger. And I got a sausage baguette. It was a great day.
Then eventually after doing as many rides as we could be bothered – the queues were so short because there weren’t as many people in the park – we decided to head back home. That evening we had a lovely carvery with my grandad to coelenterate.
All in all it was such a good weekend. Seeing my grandad, doing a great race and enjoying Alton Towers. We’re definitely signing up for next year!
Do you enjoy roller coasters?
Would you do a race around a theme park?