371 1:33:13 Sumanth Nayak
Continuing my weekend theme of races in spectacular places; this one, as the name suggests is around the Silverstone Formula 1 circuit. A couple of months ago, I won the parkrun draw for Lucozade’s London Marathon place. As a warm up race, I was offered free entry into one of four half marathons in March, this one being the most interesting. How could I refuse? I wasn’t too keen on sorting out travel and accommodation but luckily, a friend was also doing it and could give me a lift down there on the day. The only problem was, he was staying in Yorkshire so I had to take the 5am bus to Leeds so he could pick me up on his way down to Silverstone. So, very little sleep, a few hours on a cramped bus and tired legs from going flat out at parkrun the day before; ideal race preparation then.
The roads leading to the circuit were jam packed so we got there with fifteen minutes to spare for the noon start. After a quick jog to the start near the paddock, I found the almost 7000 runners had already assembled and hurriedly made my way as close to the front as possible. We were set off to the BBC’s iconic Formula 1 theme song “The Chain” and after about a minute, I crossed the start line only to be met by a ferocious blast of wind. The course is obviously very exposed and just like the Town Moor, it feels like you’re running into a hurricane.
In these conditions with tired legs, I didn’t think a sub 90 was possible so I set my Garmin for a 1:31 pace and managed to keep up for most of the race. Because of the twisting nature of the course, I would be running into a gale one minute and it would be deathly still the next. This at least allowed me to make up the time I lost fighting the wind. You would think that running a half marathon around a four mile circuit would be boring but the route takes you around the circuit itself, into the pits, down the two former runways and all around the outside which keeps it interesting. Plus, you get the to see the runners ahead of and behind you at many points around the course and the PA system bombarding you with music at the finish line is always within earshot.
I was really tiring after 10 miles and struggled to keep up with the 4:20min/km pace I was after but thankfully, the wind was at my back for the last mile and I put in a good burst to finish in 1:33. The race mementos; a cotton t-shirt for a change and possibly the best medal ever – a huge tyre!