I enjoyed this one. It was the one which I was most looking forward to – and it didn’t let me down.
The Price family caught the train from Lydney to Birmingham, I then got on a train and carried on north to Wolverhampton, whilst the girls went and enjoyed the shops…
The train journey up was pleasant and gave me chance to look at the route, as it followed the canal, and I could see runners already coming down along the canal.
On arrival at Wolverhampton it was clear this was a popular race, as there were crowds of runners leaving the station, the organisers had signed the route from the station to the start which was only a few minutes walk away.
The start area was not very large, but then as runners were leaving in waves of 100 – it didn’t have to be massive, enough space for a van to dump my bag in, some porta loos… registration desk, a coffee van, and the briefing area.
I had arrived in plenty of time for my wave, so much so they let me start in an earlier wave.
After a thorough, funny briefing, we were led through a doorway in a brick wall, onto the canal path, when we were ready we could start. It was a nice way to start, not the mad rush of everyone pushing and shoving, trying to get space and fighting for the race line, it was me on my own jogging down to the start over the timing mats I was off.
This part of the canal was surrounded by old factories and remnants of the industrial era that once dominated the canal.
There were lots of little bridges to trot up and over, as the course went over canal junctions, and inlets to industrial ports.
The organisers had ensured there were plenty of marshals along the route, with ample signage. The marshals were all friendly and very cheerful. Not many spectators out sadly.
The four water stations were located on the side of narrow boats.
The path was varied from brick, to gravel, tarmac and some trail, it was dry, and only a few puddles to run through.
Just after 5 miles came a 360 meter long dark tunnel, there was no light, the floor was slippery and uneven, but there was a handrail, if you could find it, I went to grab it once and couldn’t find it – tried not to panic too much – there was some very low ambient lighting fitted but it didn’t give off much light.
The course criss-crossed the canal several times, with industrial landscape turning to countryside, before turning into city centre tall high rise buildings, and sadly I only saw two narrow boats sailing, I thought I would have seen lots more,
It was nice running and catching people up from previous waves, encouraging them as I passed, and being encouraged by those from later waves catching and passing me.
The finish was in Brindley Place, with crowds lining the other side of the canal and a footbridge, but not that they could see the finish as this was disappointedly around a corner away from them all.
After being reunited with my family and showing off me latest medal, I collect my t-shirt and goodie bag, grabbed a quick shower and head for some well deserved food, before letting the train take us home.
A great run – completed in 2 hours 5 minutes – very different to any other half I have done, one I would recommend, very well organised, want to do it again. My only grumble if I can is that the water stations had cups and not bottles…..
Next run Gloucester Half – 6th August