The Sleaford Half Marathon starts and finishes in the grounds of RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire. Such was the quality of the facilities, I had to keep reminding myself that I was at an air base. Football, Rugby and Cricket pitches surrounded the Sultan Quaboos Pavilion and gliders quietly flew overhead. A beautiful sunny day greeted the 337 runners who turned out for a 10.30am start.
|Before the start at RAF Cranwell|
The route tracked out of the grounds across the sports pitches before meandering past air base accommodation. There followed perhaps a couple of miles off road along a track. I had taped my ankle today and reminded myself to concentrate hard on the off road sections and keep the joint in an upright position. I've also invested in a balance cushion from Aldi to try and improve the "The motor control centre in the cerebellum to improve dysfunctional coordination patterns"!? or to train my brain to tell my feet to react quicker to obstacles underfoot. The off road start helped to maintain a steady pace and by the time the road section arrived I was running free, enthused by the wall to wall sunshine. Although the sun shone brightly it was cold and there was an occasional strong wind which created a bit of a challenge to the pace. The views across Lincolnshire were far and wide. One part of the route traverses an escarpment and you could see for miles in the westerly distance.
|Stuart Sinclair, Grantham AC blasts home.|
There were frequent drinks stations and occasional volunteers handing out jelly babies. I avoided the sweets, no time to chew but drank plenty aware that I wasn't properly hydrated. The rest of the route followed quiet country lanes which were easy to run along. There were quite a few long straight sections which challenged the mind but helped in maintain a steady, even pace. Eventually I saw the wind sock of the airfield in the distance and managed to increase speed across the final three miles. On entering the grounds of the RAF base the biting wind was blowing strongly across the sports fields. I passed another contender on the home straight and finished in 1:32:27 minutes in 56th position. I would hope to run faster on another day but was encouraged because I felt strong throughout and managed to muster a good finish.
Performance of the day for Grantham AC was Stuart Sinclair's 34th position in a super fast 1:27:52 gazumping the talented, ever present, Arthur Short, 36th 1:28:02 in the final leg of the race. In the ladies race, Catherine Payne came home 4th in 1:38:49 narrowly missing the third podium place and with a time that I think I heard was a PB. A big turnout of Grantham runners followed, Full results here.
|A triumphant finisher!|
This was a very good well organised race. Having no previous experience of military life, it was interesting to see the facilities available to those that serve the country. Apparently the air base also hosts a recruitment and selection centre and an RAF college. Perhaps as a more sobering thought, the base is also used as a rehabilitation centre for injured personnel. For an average entry fee there was a decent race over a decent course, a t-shirt, a well stocked goody bag, a tea voucher, chip timing which included a text of my race time which was sent to me as I pulled out of the car park and all backed by quality facilities in nice grounds.
A few more photies here