My first White Star running event and if they are all as good as this I would highly recommend visiting their webpage and signing yourselves up.
Being inspired by hearing a few from our club had signed up for the first ever Dorchester marathon I contemplated the challenge of running the 26.2 miles across Dorset countryside taking in the beautiful views whilst visiting the historic town of Dorchester and the picturesque surrounding villages. After approximately 2.5 seconds of contemplation I opted to enter the more civilised 13.3 mile half marathon+.
Being a local run I somehow thought that meant no special training was required nor was there any need to read the pre run information until the night before the race. Fortunately the directions to the race HQ were spot on and knowing the area I was able to have a good lie in and give myself and Lisa 30 minutes travel time maximising the all important night before sleep.
Once arrived at the impressive runners village we were able to familiarise ourselves with the excellent facilities laid on with ample parking, camping, toilets, changing tents, showers, bar & supporters.
After locating fellow half Marathon runner Caroline Smith plus the hardy support posse of Andy, Tamsin, Dave & Steve P (They had been here since 08:00 AM to see off the Marathon runners) I made myself a little too comfortable in the refreshments tent.
Ambling out of the tent at 09:25 with Caroline we were both surprised not to see any other athletes or indeed a start line! Following the track and directions from marshals we walked/jogged then ran to the start line some half a mile from the runners village whilst being vocally encouraged by a marshal that anyone running the half marathon should RUN to the start line.
The Mayor of Casterbridge ?
Arriving with seconds to spare before the Mayor of Dorchester started the run I parted company with Caroline and wished her good luck before picking my way through the crowd to move a little closer to the middle of the pack.
Once moving I soon found the now familiar 5min/km pace (8 min/mile) I’ve recently associated with a semi comfortable race pace being placed under threat by hills, heat and humidity. Recognising those spikes shown on the race profile where real hills and not White star running having a laugh I recalculated my race plan to include latching on to the pace of a couple of lady runners between mile three and ten to at least run and breathe without overheating in the now glaring sunshine and humid temperatures. I remember at the time thinking how popular one of the Lady runners Trish appeared as several local supporters called out her name in support. Having the hindsight and photographic evidence it's now clear having her name on the front of her shirt probably played to the crowd.
Readjusting to a manageable pace gave me a chance to enjoy the scenery and shade of Puddletown forest from an uphill perspective before levelling out into Puddletown itself and hearing the encouraging cheers from the locals who had been joined by Darren, Fran, Izzy & Rudi. A mile past here came my second highlight of the run, the 7.5 mile refreshments/love station who not only offered gels & water but also encouraged runners to participate in a swig of Cider or Vodka. Focussed only on the large bucket of water containing sponges I grabbed what was to become my race aide and comforter for the last six miles.
We continued over the A35 north before turning West for home at mile eight and followed the river Piddle to mile ten at Higher Waterstones where my newly found running buddies split as Trish surged ahead up a 400 ft climb to mile eleven before a two mile descent took the form of a roller coaster as every bit of down hill had a little up before descending once more.
With the large race HQ tent and finish line in sight I was able to relax and trundle to the line past a noisy and encouraging crowd to complete this enjoyable but challenging run in 01:53.
Being presented with the heaviest medal I've ever received and a snazzy technical tee shirt combined with the overall friendliness and support of White star and their marshals confirmed the Casterbridge half marathon as a great all round event.
Once suitably rehydrated and recovered it was great to be able to then drive back to Puddletown with the CRC support crew and witness the real Athletes running the full Marathon Tim, Becky, Sarah, Tracy & Jenny (We missed Kirsten) around mile 20ish and then see them again (Except Kirsten) at the finish line topped off a great event.
Bringing the sponge home.
Guarding the medals?