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Solent Half Marathon 2023

On Sunday 1st October, 37 Totton runners assembled at Gang Warily sports centre in Blackfield to take on Solent Half Marathon - the second installation of this year’s Hampshire Road Racing League.

After various conversations concerning the route alterations and how many additional loops of the field would be required, Neil Cameron promptly halted the conversation by asking the pragmatic question “are you going to be first?”. As my dreams of victory faded, we assembled for the team photo. Of 37 runners, 29 made the photo - possibly a new record for me?

After the start, it’s a quick dash across the closed crossroads, followed by the long drag out to Hill Top (inventively named…) where Mike was waiting with his camera to take some great photos. I thought my cluster of 4 TRC runners would be the biggest photo, but we were surpassed by a photo including no less than 6 of us! Team spirit would continue to be a theme today.

A deceptively downhill 2 or 3 miles took us into Exbury, where the original course would have taken us alongside the shore but instead we ran through the village itself on what I think might be a slightly flatter topography. During this time Kirsty arrived on her bike, providing a few words of encouragement and a few words of surprise that she hadn’t caught up with Neil Cameron yet. The crown jewel of the race is the shoreline at Lepe, which thankfully wasn’t too windy. From the cafe at Lepe the left turn takes you up the hill on an incline which remains for most of the remainder of the course. At Stanswood, some were able to catch a sighting on the infamous grazing water buffalo, but for the second year running I was too focussed on running up the sharpest hill on the course. This hill is thankfully quite short, and immediately followed by a drinks station.

Turning left onto the main road, the instruction to stay left becomes less of a rule, and more just a really sensible idea as cars, vans and the occasional HGV pass at varying distances from my right shoulder. As the end of this stretch approaches, Mike was once again poised with his camera to capture some slightly less flattering faces of TRC runners as we approach the final kilometre.

With one final, sapping grassy loop of Gang Warily, the course was complete and finishers receive their medals.

As we watched the remaining Totton runners come in, some examples of what makes this club really great were shown. Most memorably, watching Rachael, Mel and Sam run the finishing stretch hand-in-hand was great to see.

Putting a day of fantastic team atmosphere and spirit to one side for a moment, it was also a day of fantastic personal achievements too. Shaun Egan once again demonstrated his abilities to play with the front runners, finishing 2nd in an incredible time of 1:14:39. Tina Mills won the W65 category with  Barbara Bradley picking up 4th in the W60. Personal bests were also achieved by Dave Ullet, Sarah Gordon and Steve Cox. As well as this there was a course best for Robbie Barlow as he comes towards the end of a hefty marathon training block. All across the board there were some fantastic efforts, PBs or not! Another piece of great news is that Jacquie was able to get round injury free after a difficult few weeks with her achilles.

I asked the team for there general thoughts, observations and stories from today - here’s a select few:

  • “Coffee gels make you run like a bull on steroids” - Robbie Barlow. (I need to try/see this).

  • “I nearly died” - Vicky Couzens. (But you didn’t, so well done!)

  • Various comments around teamwork, which I completely agree with.

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