Hampshire Hoppit – race report

Here I am, reporting on the Hampshire Hoppit Trail half Marathon. Let me take you back to the 18th June……

Remember how hot that weekend was? After 2 weeks of amazing weather, Sunday 18th June, race day was going to be the hottest day of the year. Could even be the hottest day for years they said! Just what you need when you’re about to run 13.1 miles of hills (ok, it’s not mountains but still hilly). That’s why I made sure I was going to carry water around the course. I couldn’t wait to get going!

Arriving at race HQ just over an hour before race time, we just managed to see the Marathon start. This year was only the second time this event was on the race calendar. Last year, the Half and full Marathon started together. This year, the Marathon started an hour before the Half due to numbers.

I went there with two mates, Julien and Simon. 11am sharp, we were ready to go!

Buzzer went off! For a laugh, we decided to start at the front! big mistake! We hit 7.30m/m for approximately the first 600meters! what the heck were we thinking off?! This is where we suddenly hit “THE HILL”. Yes people, The Hill everyone talks about! This is where you have to walk. If you can run this hill all the way up then still run the rest of the course with your normal pace, then you should be running at the British trials. Look how beautiful it looks! (thank you to Hampshire Hoppit for letting me use this video).

Once at the top, with legs crying for help, already, I started running again with around 12miles to go.

Julien went off ahead while Simon being just ahead of me, waited for me at the first drink station, 2 or 3 miles in. It’s then that I realised Simon was suffering from the heat, told me to go ahead as he didn’t know if he would carry on. I gave him words of encouragement and told him I was going to run the course with him. Today wasn’t about time, but running together and have a blast. After a few minutes walking and Simon’s order to get me going, I went ahead.

For the next few miles, it was time to get into a rhythm, get those legs moving comfortably and get those lungs working at a nice easy pace. Those drink stations were heaven everytime you reached one. I was and am so glad I carried water with me. At every drink station, I filled up my bottle, drank 2 cups of water and poured one over my head, with the odd Haribos coming out of my pocket to give me a boost.  Up and down we went, through beautiful fields, uneven narrow paths, past cows, a cute small dead rabbit, and deers hiding in field’s high grass…

At around Mile 7 or 8, we went onto a single lane country road for probably a couple of miles. Yes, tarmac! The heat was so intense, bouncing off the ground that I could feel it under my feet.  This was, for me, the most difficult part of the course, physically and mentally but the only way to get through it is to push on and that’s what I did, one foot in front of the other. I’m not going to lie, it was tough!

We then turned back into an off road track with some shade. What a great feeling that was! Still going slightly uphill. I forgot to mention mile 7 to mile 11 is one incline, only slightly but enough for your calfs and quads to feel sorry for yourself. But that’s OK, the end was near, right?

Look at that face in the picture below. Haha! An exhausted but very determined face. Bring on the last couple of miles!

Legs burning, sweating buckets, feeling knackered, I actually felt good and determined to finish well.

One small matter was left before the last mile and that finish line, The Hill! That’s right, it was back, back to haunt me one more time. We now had to go down it! Who’s idea was it?! Haha! As it is so steep, long and legs were burning, the best way to go down was sideways. You might think that was slow but I impressed myself picking up speed quickly while still in control, not tumbling down the hill like competing at the The Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake.

At last the last mile! Although the finish line seemed miles away, it felt great to get there. Nice to see so many people applauding us runners coming home. I even managed a sprint finish in the last 100meters, not quite in Usain Bolt’s time.

So here we are, obviously not a course PB in these conditions but very happy with my race as I looked after myself, paced well, ran well and most importantly in hight temperatures, I kept my hydration to the required level. Julien finished 15mins ahead with a great run. For Simon, I have great respect for as he finished, where at Mile 2 he was ready to DNF due to the heat. Well done mate.

I also have big respect for everyone who ran the Marathon. You lot were crazy!

I would recommend this race to everyone and see you next year. I’ll definitely be back and who knows, might even be for the Marathon!

Keep running, keep smiling!