“The 15th running of the Roy Lamberton Memorial half marathon introduces a brand new town & country course starting and finishing at the Makino Aquatic Centre. Also new is the 2-person relay section for the half marathon – that’s around 10.5km each. Or try the shorter 5 km event, including a 4 person schools and business house team competition where each team members time is combined for a total distance of 20km. We offer a measured loop course of 21.097km, mostly along quiet rural Manawatu roads with a gentle 75m rise and fall. All events start and finish at Makino Aquatic Centre on the corner of Manchester St and Council Pl. It goes along Manchester St, left into West St, out of town along Awahuri Rd, right at Lees Rd, left into Sandon, (the transition for the half marathon relay) right at Te Rakehou for 1.5km out and back, returning via Sandon Rd, West St and Manchester St. Each kilometre will be marked.” [http://www.harriersnz.350.com/HALF_MARATHON.htm]
Gerry and I arrived shortly after 8:00 to register for the event, on a cool and overcast morning. It seemed pure madness to pay $40 for a 21.1km event, taking into account that in SA it would cost around R40 or less. However, we really needed the training and having to run 21km on one’s own is always much more of a challenge.
And aren’t I glad we decided to enter the race! What a lovely event.
The race start was situated about 100 metres from the Makino Aquatic Centre. After registering, we strolled over to the quiet road where we were supposed to start, only to find the area completely deserted! We were uncertain if we were at the right place, but after a while one or two other runners started arriving. By 9:15 our numbers have grown to almost 50, and the race got going in what appeared to be perfect weather. The first couple of kilometres are run through town before turning off to meander through the countryside and farmlands. At about 4kms we reached the first little hill, a classic “slow poison” uphill stretch that dragged on for just over a kilometre.
That left me a bit out of breath, but I was otherwise feeling okey and we could keep running at a comfortable steady pace of, I’m guessing, about 6min/km. Still not having a watch to monitor our progress, we have to run on memory. Many years ago I was able to pace a very steady 6min/km pace in almost any event, from 10km to 42kms. Maybe I had some sort of internal rhythm-thing going? ;-).
The road turned out to be undulating for the biggest part, with the highest point around 75 metres higher than the start/finish. At 10.5kms the switch-over for the team participants appeared to be a jollification as marshals and team mates were sitting around, waiting and entertaining themselves.
Shortly after the halfway point an out-and-back section of about 1.5kms ensured some company in the, by now, widely spread out field.
Water tables, manned by very friendly and helpful volunteers, were stationed at the 5, 10, 15 and 18km marks.
At the 15km mark, I suddenly ran completely out of breath and started to battle a bit to keep going. With short walk breaks – “run bits, walk bits, you’ll get there” – I managed to keep going until things started to get better again, with approximately 2km to go (which obviously cost us some time). Being someone who’s never had any hay fever problems before, its starting to appear that the damp and wet NZ weather might have quite an effect on my respiratory area!
Apart from only a handful of cars, the road was very quiet and the race a really beautiful out-in-the-country event. Coming from a big city where the vast majority of events boast more than a 1000 participants, with registrations a mission, congested parking areas, and traffic a major issue, we always referred to these type of events as the small-out-of-town-gems. And now suddenly almost all our events are small-out-of-town-gems!
We finished fairly comfortably in 2:14. Melon and watermelon slices were available to all participants at the finish. After a cup of coffee, the prize-giving started at 12:00. Some wonderful spot-prizes were handed out and both Gerry and myself received something (as did just about every other participant)! Gerry walked away with a bathroom scale (the first time ever we would be able to weigh ourselves!) and me with a nice Adidas T-shirt.
Thanks to the organisers and sponsors for a wonderful event! I would recommend this race to anyone who might be in the area or who would consider making an outing to the Manawatu.