Cheddar Gorge Half Marathon

Hi guys! Sooo on Sunday I completed survived the Cheddar Gorge half marathon. And I’m not tooting my own horn here when I say it was no small feat!

The day began very early, showering (ha, what was the point in that!) and having a good breakfast at 6.30am. My dad was supposed to come with Ben and me and support while my mum stayed at home with their dogs and Alfie as it would have been unfair to have left them on their own in the house another day (after Saturday’s BBQ). But my dad was really ill in the night and couldn’t make it so my mum came instead. My dad was devastated. I always joke that he’s my ‘soccer mom’ as he’s always encouraging me and giving me pep talks before races so it was a real shame.

Anyway we drove the two hours towards Somerset (grabbed a coffee en route – necessity!) and arrived with an hour to spare. Perfect!

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It had rained a fair bit on the journey up and but it had stopped by the time we arrived and I started feeling excited!Cheddar Gorge half marathon

We got ourselves together with our hydration belt (for me) and Camelbak (for Ben). Panic struck when I realised my gel had burst a bit in my bag. Very sticky. Gross. But luckily not too much of it had leaked to make a significant difference. It just meant I had to carry it running rather than keep it in my belt.Cheddar Gorge Gromit

Look what we found!! This made me think of Claire as she’s always showing photos of Gromits from around Bristol and London.

Then we got our bibs and made the long journey up to the start. We left my mum (bless her wearing her flip flops) and she went off to have a mosey around the shops to come back later to where we would be finishing. Basically there was no ideal point to spectate!

We could tell as we saw the other runners that this was a different style of race. The runners did not look like your stereotypical road runners. They were hardy looking men and women ready for a challenge. It felt very relaxed which was great.

Cheddar Gorge half marathon climb

Ideal to be walking behind the first aid guys!!

We were sweating before we’d even begun!!

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And we finally made it to the start.

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Here are the elevation changes throughout the course:

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Mile one: It began really really tough. A lot of up hill running. We ran through about four fields so there was a lot of jumping over stiles. My game plan had been to stay around 9 minutes a mile. I looked at my watch during the first half a mile and I was doing 10 minutes and struggling.

Mile two: It levelled out, there was a nice downhill section which was refreshing after the climb. Then some rocky bits to climb over and slide down which was good fun.

Forest run

Mile three: This involved more running uphill across a big field. There was absolutely no point in trying to be speedy. Then we ran through a lovely bog soaking my trainers…good stuff.

Mile four: Still climbing. There weren’t a huge number of runners at all. There was maybe three guys I could see directly in front of me (obviously more further ahead!) and a few behind. I saw up ahead that two of the runners were coming to a stop and looked confused as to where they were going and a bunch of hikers pointed the way. It was that kind of race! There were ribbons on trees and marks on the floor but it was dodgy at times! I caught up with a guy and we started chatting which was really nice. It was his first off-road half marathon as well so it was nice to be in good company!

CG run

Best bit was passing a couple of marshals and them shouting “here’s the first lady!” What a boost! The guy in front of me did a bow pretending it was him, which was funny.

Mile five: What a dream! I zoomed downhill. I kept a great routine of doing teeny tiny footsteps and landing on the front of my foot to let gravity basically push me forward. I gained back quite a bit of energy doing this as it didn’t take as much to run it. Though obviously I had to be careful not to fall!!

Mile six: I took my gel, thankful to stop carrying it (putting the now less sticky rubbish in my belt of course!). I managed to get lost off the route by mindlessly following two guys. We ended up going through a very constricted path amongst brambles then realising it really didn’t feel right and backtracked to the correct path.

Mile seven: Oh man this was tough – one of the hardest parts. Serious uphill. I couldn’t run it. It was just impossible. My thighs were burning. The guys around me walked it too so I didn’t feel so bad.

Big hill

Mile eight to mile 11: Can’t remember much apart from really loving it at this point. No more uphill’s for a bit and I felt like I was zipping along nicely gaining back some speed. My music was being annoying as I was using Spotify and it kept losing signal but when it did burst into life in my ear (half scaring the hell out of me) it was excellent. Otherwise the atmosphere of the race was great too. I’m quite glad I had the best of both worlds to be honest.

Cheddar G run

Mile 11: Oh mile 11. You ruined my fun. Suddenly in front of me were these steps of doom. huge steep steps we had to get up and it went on and on for what seemed like forever.

Mile 12: After finishing the steps I was flying again. Some fellow racers let me pass them which was nice and one even said “I want her shoes!”. Lots of downhill’s which I took at break-neck speed which I now cringe at thinking back to. All heading downhill to the town where we got some actual road running for a few seconds!

Half marathon

My mum was there with her camera and snapped a photo.

The final bit of the race was a short but very steep uphill. Then done!

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Hurrah!

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Crazy paces! My official time was 1:58:42. My Garmin stopped several times during the run because of my walking breaks – clearly it was unimpressed with my lack of hill climbing ability and gave up on me. I also came first girl and 20th overall out of 157 runners.IMG_1133

After finding my mum afterwards, I promptly collapsed onto the grass with some water and we waited for Ben.

Ben finished in 2:52:34. I was so worried he hadn’t enjoyed it because of his unfortunate lack of preparation but he was smiling and looking strong at the end. I was very proud!IMG_1161

Nope that’s not a lovely tan; that is just dirt

I’ll spare you the raw details but then commenced the Great Baby Wipe and Change of Clothes Adventure in the car park. We’re classy like that Winking smile

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And then we headed out to find FOOD (this was 3pm!) We found a lovely little pub and walked in praying they were still serving, which they were, hurrah! I hurriedly told the barmaid that we had just finished a race and didn’t always look so bedraggled! She laughed and said she’d seen worse haha.

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Code of conduct for post race: always wear your medal. You feel like Mr T.

Post half marathon meal

I had a butternut squash and feta salad to start (delicious but I was so hungry I really wanted to just get to the main!) and then for the main I had a delicious home-made beef burger with chips and tomato relish. Ohhhhh it was heaven. Alongside I had a cup of tea.

I inhaled everything. Those chips didn’t stand a chance.

I thoroughly recommend this race. I loved it. So much variation in the course, such good camaraderie from the fellow racers and the marshals were excellent. Definitely one for next year!

What’s your kind of race? Do you prefer the regular road race, or something a bit more crazy and off-road? I just know my next race is going to seem a bit dull in comparison now?

What’s your favourite running surface? Treadmill, road, gravel, grass, sand (you crazy!)…

Do you run with music or not? I get a boost from music and it helps me not get bored. Sometimes I like my own thoughts for 13.1 miles I get bored of myself.

26 thoughts on “Cheddar Gorge Half Marathon

  1. Dear! You are one tough and impressive cookie! Those hills look KILLER! I don’t know how you do it, but dangg! A HUGE congratulations on placing first & 20th. You deserve a huge “I’m awesome” cake after that one.

  2. Haha I’m obsessed with Gromit Unleashed, I’m going to be devastated when they leave!
    That race sounds absolutely killer but you rocked it! Well done on being first girl and ploughing through on such a hard race – those hills don’t sound like my idea of fun haha. Great time as well!

  3. I love cheddar but I normally walk around it! So nice to see somewhere I know on a blog! Well done, I could never do this! Glad i foudn your blog i’m a new follower 🙂 x

  4. This race sounds so tough, great effort!! Awesome time, and well done on being first lady! I actually really like training on grass/trails, find it much easier on the joints, I hate the dreadmill it’s so dull! I almost always run with music, just gives you that little extra boost! Congrats again!

  5. Wow congratulations Anna that is fantastic! 🙂
    Looks like a super tough course- reminded me of Phil’s recap of the Beauty and the Beast half.

    I always go for baby wipes and fresh clothes if I can’t have a shower right away- better than nothing I think, and it is just heaven to take off my sports bra and socks! 🙂

    • Beauty and the Beast half sounds intriguing… I must have a look 😉 I definitely enjoyed a different racing style with the off-road running.
      It was you who put the baby wipes idea in my head! 🙂

  6. Wow! Amazing race and at such a super pace! Massive well done on getting first lady! I love the excitement of trail or cross-country races.
    You never look too bad until you take your socks and trainers off and that line is always there! It’s all about the baby wipes post race! I’m all about wearing the finishers medal or top after the race too. When you’re too tired to explain why you’re still sweaty, your hair and makeup aren’t done…the top or medal says it all!

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