Derby Half Marathon

I wouldn’t normally do this sort of thing; a road race, a road race, a road race you hear me say? A half marathon? A half marathon? A half marathon you hear me say? A flat half marathon? A flat half marathon? A flat half marathon you say? I wouldn’t normally do this sort of thing.

The Run For All series had taken over the ‘Ramathon’ – Derby’s largest half marathon, and they’d also changed the route slightly. The first year I did the Ramathon some four years ago it started and finished in the lovely grounds of Elvaston Castle, then they messed about with it a bit and a bit more and a bit more, so today it started at Derby Pride Park Stadium, but taking in Elvaston Castle.

It was a privilege to be on the start line (right at the back) with the lovely Becky. Absolute privilege, although I wouldn’t ‘choose’ to do this as a race, to run with my beautiful best friend round her home town brought more than a tear to my eye.

Running is a gift,
Don’t take it for granted.

The race seemed organised from the start apart from the lack of toilets as always. I’d only registered a few days before so had to pick up my number, that was nice and easy, no ID needed, no queues – quite simple really. It was good to bump into the Sheffield Running Club crew who were ‘racing’ it including Simon, Neal and Zaheer.

We deliberately started off almost right at the back, aiming for around 2 hrs 30 minutes. A mix of runners lined up, including Scooby doo, where are you? Would you beat us too?

By the time we crossed the start line about 5 minutes after the horn had blown the front runners would have blasted out their first mile. But none of that mattered we were running and running happily.

The route took us into Derby city centre. Within 2 miles someone was winging of a ‘hill’ or something that ‘I thought this course was flat’ maybe I was blind but I saw no hill any slope, no incline just relentless flat concrete that seemed to go on forever, and I paid £30 to do this? No, I paid £30 to cherish some wonderful moments with my best friend Becky.

And 3 or 4 miles in, there it shined in its glory, the top of Derbynious Mountainous. The mountain of Derby, aka a small bridge going over the railway line. One step at a time – be careful now.

The first 5 miles I will admit were tedious and repetitious, unexciting at its best and duller than dirty dishwater at its worst. I certainly wouldn’t do this on my own. Becky, however, was giving me a guided tour of her hospital visits as we passed one of the hospitals that she has many trips to.

Look back, at those who don’t run and never will… You’re still here. Take pride in wherever you finish – Joe Henderson

Finally, around halfway, we scampered off the uninspiring concrete and onto pretty country lanes. I was familiar with this bit from other Derby races I have completed and loved this area of the city.

Round and into Elvaston Castle, it was beautiful, such a beautiful day, the sun was shining, and we were alive, dancing all the way through the picturesque trails of the castle grounds. Bouncing and smiling. Simple, so simple.

The charming trails and waving trees gave some shade to the sun but that didn’t bother me – even though the trails are flat its such a beautiful 2 miles or so before hitting the road again.

A small drag down the road then leads onto the bike trail and along the canal path. This is where we saw too many people suffering, some from heatstroke, exerting themselves a little too much. Then we saw Zaheer from the Running Club, I said hi and tried to encourage him to keep up with us. We were going steady, and increasing our pace after each mile, steady and sensible overtaking everyone with grins on our faces and a little tear in my eye, thinking how wonderful life is with us both running down the path and into the bright lively sunshine. We are alive, one of us may have a terminal disease to battle through but we are both here running and alive, and life is wonderful.

Your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is

The canal path can be a bit of a drag but it didn’t feel too blah.  I felt sorry for all the guys on the edge of the gutter suffering from over-exhaustion whilst we were still upping the pace and overtaking everyone. It felt great, and as we approached Pride Park Stadium we ran that little bit faster to cross the line in a time of 2 hrs and 23 minutes. Not bad for someone who has Lung Cancer and has good days and bad days. Today was most certainly a good day a very good day a happily good day full of beans and smiles and a few tears underneath the sunglasses.

There’s not one body type that equates to success. Accept the body you have and be the best you can be with it. – Mary Cullen

Photos of the event

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