Windsor Half Marathon 30 September 2018 , Windsor Great Park, Berkshire, England
The Windsor half marathon has been on my list of runs to do ever since I first encountered people running a half marathon in Windsor Great Park by chance in autumn 2004. For me in 2004 a 10km run counted as a very long run and running a 21k race a distant dream. I was able to tick running the 2018 Windsor half marathon off my list on 30 September 2018, my first race as a veteran. Entering the race gave me some motivation to train and explore the trails around home. Within 3 km from home I am able to get into the Surrey Hills and a seemingly endless choice of trails to explore. I miss the Magnolia Sunday runs and all the friendly people, I think of you all running every Sunday morning.
Race day was bright and clear, the leaves on the trees changing into the autumn colours and a breeze to make sure we didn’t get too comfortable. The conditions were reminded me of a mid winter run in Pretoria. Conditions were perfect when compared to the race I had entered in March which was cancelled 2 hours before the start due to snow blanketing the entire route. Races I have run in the UK start at either 9:00 or 10:00 and half marathons entry fees range between £25 and £40. Even if I could find a half marathon to run every weekend, I don’t think I would be able to afford to run them all. Runners in Gauteng really are spoilt for choice with the number of organised races. The water tables are exactly what they say, water in small bottles, no coke or sports drinks in the races I have run. The Scouts have manned at least one water point in every race I have run. The support along the race routes is good with people coming out and cheering you on and offering tubs of sweets to the runners.
I lined up together with about 4 500 other runners at the start. Windsor Castle behind us and ahead of us the Long Walk heading up to Snow Hill. The race takes place within the grounds of Windsor Great Park on tar roads. The Park is 2 020 acres and includes an area for red deer, a few polo fields, a lake and a small village. After heading up away from Windsor Castle you turn left onto the first lap which is about 6km long before you head out onto the longer second lap.
The start was typical and after 2km some space opened up around me and I could settle into a steady pace and start enjoying the scenery while running through the park, forests interspersed with green fields. The second half of the first lap had a few short hills leading to views over Windsor towards the Castle and the London skyline in the distance. The second lap took us past the polo fields, the only truly flat section of the undulating route, a massive expanse of mowed green fields to our left and then down towards the lake at Virginia Water. On through an area of the park the public don’t normally have access to. This section involved a bit of a climb and I did not look around much at this stage. Fairly soon we were coming back round to enjoy the views over Windsor for the last time before the downhill back towards Windsor Castle and the finish line. At the finish line, yet more water, no coke, a medal and a nice finishers t shirt. The race was very well organised and if anyone is in the UK at the end of September, I would recommend running the Windsor half marathon.