Valiants Half Marathon by Steven Bayliss

I’d never ran a half marathon before and didn’t plan on doing one anytime soon but before I knew it I had pressed enter and was in the valiants half in Preston, there was just a slight problem…It was in two weeks and I hadn’t trained for it but after a very hilly 10 miler last week I thought ‘just go for it’.

I pulled into the valiants equestrian centre and picked up my race number and safety pins and nervously looked at the other runners who had arrived, hmm not many young ones here which always worries me as the older runners tend to be a lot tougher and go for harder runs, I was starting to think I was in over my head, but I was wearing my harriers vest so I was going to give it my all and not let the Wigan name down!

Around 200 runners turned up and after a 5 minute delay we all set off at a decent pace and when I passed the two mile marker in under 13 minutes I thought I’d better slow down else I’d burn out and not get round in the 1.45 I’d set myself, I found my breath and my rhythm which always takes me a few miles to settle into and I was starting to enjoy what I was doing, miles 3,4 and 5 flew past and so did some of the other runners and I found myself in a group of 4 heading into the halfway point, I thought it was a good time to down a gel, I pulled it from the waistband of my shirts, tore at it with my teeth all in full stride may I add making sure my rhythm wasn’t affected and then attempted to squirt it into my mouth……missing completely and managing to get it on my cheek, vest, shorts and even a little on a Garstang runner beside me too! Still at least none of it could be seen on the race photos, that type of fluid on my black shorts might have made for a slightly embarrassing photo.

Still as the miles passed by so did the time and before I knew it our group of four was now a two which was how it stayed until the final mile, the other runner asked what time I was aiming for without sounding too out of breath, 1.45 I replied trying to sound the same but instead sounded like a cat coughing up a hairball, anyway he opened his stride and left me with about half a mile to go after saying I’m well within my target, my legs were getting heavy now but all I could think of was ‘high knee’s, high knee’s’ which managed to get the last half mile done, I patted the runner who had ran almost the entire way with me on the back and despite my gums feeling like they were sweating managed a good run and thanks to him, my final time was 1.30.07 which was 15 minutes within my time. A nice shiny horse emblazoned medal awaited me along with a bacon butty free from the site butty van and a big bar of chocolate. I gave away the food as I don’t eat red meat and they wouldn’t swap it for an egg one but still the little lad who I gave it to liked it and I tucked into the chocolate which he wasn’t getting a sniff at!

All in all a very good race and I will definitely recommend this as it’s virtually flat and almost traffic free just my only advice would be…..aim better with the gel!






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