Last year I ran the Bath Half. I won’t be going this year as I’ve hardly run for 3 months. If I ran it now, I’d probably do OK on the day, but I think it would result in trashed knees and a return to post viral morbidity. All the more of a shame because I was given a free elite entry from last year’s race. This means I have a red number (and low - in the 70s), and would be one of those that get waved through barriers at the beginning. Given the crush that is the Bath Half, that is no small benefit.
I should be clear that last year was the first time I broke 90 minutes with a personal best of around 87 minutes. So how did I join the elite?
Well, I just kind of turned up. It was a complete surprise: I had no idea until about 3 weeks after the race when I got a letter congratulating me on my achievement. Unbeknown to me, I had been the 4th veteran from my club over the finish line. And, thanks to the speed of the previous 3 vets from my club, we’d gained 2nd place in the vets’ team competition. I won money too!
So, I think there is a moral here for all of us: It means something to turn up and run, no matter how old, inexperienced or slow, you’ve got to put yourself on the start line to win a prize. And, sometimes, that is more than anyone else has done. I won’t be running - so that means it will be someone else’s turn this year. Anyway, the real prize is simply to do your best and know you’ve done it.
Part of me is a bit relieved. I had visions of the gun firing, all the real elites storming off, and me straggling behind in no-man’s land while a field of thousands bore down on me from the rear. I’d have been trampled for sure.