Here’s an excellent report by Alasdair Wilson Craw on the Jedburgh Half.
Having not run a half since the GNR in 2008 I had been trying this year to fit in another half marathon before I step up another age class. Several candidates came and went over the summer and then I discovered the Jedburgh event – the last for the year hereabouts -so it was do or die time.
The Jedburgh Running Festival has been held for 10 years now and this year they added an Ultra Marathon to the usual 10k and Half but that was a step (many steps) too far for me. Not having done any long distance training recently apart from the Tynedale Jelly Tea 10mile early September and some hours tramping over Simonside hills I was still havering about entering up to a few days before. Luckily they were taking entries on the day and half an hour after pinning on my nice plain unsponsored number I was lining up behind the pipe band the organisers kindly provide to give the thousand plus field a grand send-off from below Jedburgh’s magnificent abbey.
A couple of minutes after 11o’clock the gun went and everyone charged up the street. They went so fast I was running freely within about 100m and wondering if I could keep up the pace for more than half a mile. It soon dawned that a lot of the people in front were running the 10k so I started to relax and settled in to my own pace as we left the outskirts of the town and turned on to a narrow leaf strewn country lane that had some rather stiff climbs to begin with before flattening out at about 3km. Some different distance signs came into view as we joined the main road to Kelso – the puzzle was solved when one was marked “wheelchair race” (another 10k but for wheelchairs and handcycles) It turned out Tanni Grey Thompson had competed in the handcycle race- presumably for a bit of a change.
The half marathon course is roughly out and back with the middle 8 or so miles fairly flat with a mixture of main road and country road sections that break up the run quite nicely. As you approach the half way point there is a bit of a hilly loop of about 1km then you come back onto the main road to face the slower runners – and this day the wind! This was a time for tactics as some runners were starting to catch me up so I had to decide whether to tag on behind them and take some shelter or to just stay comfortable (and slower) and let them get away. It seemed worth it at first since the effort I felt was much less and I managed to pick up another couple of places. I persevered until we turned off the main drag and we got out of the worst of the wind but then I had to run my own pace again. Ten miles was passed in a better time than the Jelly Tea race so that was encouraging but half a mile later I saw where we diverged from the outward route and a rather long looking hill appeared. Almost immediately my legs complained and I had to concentrate on just climbing. Coming over the top was almost as bad but reaching 12 miles it looked like I might just dip under 90minutes. The grass under that fine stand of trees by Jedburgh’s rugby ground should have been welcome for aching legs but the last mile took a long time coming and then it was a long, long winding road to the finish as a few more people passed me who had kept a bit of energy in reserve or who had actually done some specific training!
Friendly helpers greeted me, as I passed the finish in just under 92 minutes, doling out medal, bananas, caramel bars and water. Meeting up with friends wasn’t a problem and we even saw the mens winner fromWallsend wandering about, adopted Geordie Yared Hagos who broke the course record with 66:29. The results were on-line within 24hours and I discovered I was 11th over50. with some great times from those ahead of me in that class. This highlights that it attracts a strong field so you can get a proper measure of how well you are doing in your particular category beyond your locality.
The Jedburgh event is nicely low key but has chip timing, competitive field, efficient organisation, challenging but interesting course and last but not least a reasonable entry fee. An extra couple of timing mats at half way and 10miles would have been a nice touch and smaller bottles of water another welcome refinement but apart from that an enjoyable event that I’ll probably do again – with a bit more training and when I reach that next age bracket.
Alasdair Wilson Craw