Preparing for a half marathon wouldn’t normally mean running the same 13.1 miles a week before the race but this group run was too good an opportunity to miss. Today’s hosts were again Second Wind Running’s Phil and Teresa and as the photo above shows there was quite a gathering of runners. Regulars to these runs Paul, Ros and Dean were joined by a number of ultra Pompey Joggers and two other local runners.
As we set off from the Meon Hall Phil gave a brief outline of the course as well as relating it to the marathon that’s on the same day. Out of the runners present the majority were running the marathon but they had chosen today to recce the 7 miles of the route back to the race finish, as this is the same for both races. The pace was brisk initially, especially considering the Pompey group had already run 6 miles but nature took its course as we joined the South Downs Way and started running up Old Winchester Hill.
The path from the photo above then skirts around the base of Old Winchester hill (OWH) and leads up a steep incline which is quite taxing but runnable with a short stride. The bigger than normal group meant we had some different conversations about races already run and events that we were looking forward to. Needless to say the view across the valley towards Beacon Hill was worth the effort and with the recent mild weather (we are almost in November !!) there was very little mud to contend with so as we dropped down the other side of OWH the pace continued.
Not long after this photo we arrived at Meon Springs which is a fishing location that has a very handy water tap in the car park so this made for an ideal “pit stop”. Ian from the Joggers introduced himself as a fellow twitter runner and we both agreed that off road running offers you challenging routes but with the rewards of the scenery. Our next test was a long gradual country road that had quite a steep incline but with the promise of sweets and drink that my first photo showed.
At times the larger group did spilt up but Phil’s extra pace always meant he could run on ahead and get us to re group.
The unseasonal 13 degrees from today meant I was over dressed with a t shirt and HH so I took off my t shirt and did think to myself I now looked like a football referee 🙂 The route snaked its way through more country lanes and across fields before we came across a very grand country wedding that was being set up. Marquees, VIP parking, staff parking and us sweaty runners passing by. We ran along the edge of one field that went on for quite some time but were then rewarded with a straight tree lined road that lead us back towards Meonstoke.
The usual banter between Paul Coates and everyone else meant the miles were soon clocked up and finally, after a short walk for a lady on her beautifully groomed horse, we headed downhill along a colourful trail of Autumn leaves towards the Meon Hall. Yes that’s a good mile and a half that’s downhill or flat !!
Both the full and half marathons are sold out and I believe there’s a waiting list in operation. The success of these types of countryside runs are down to the location and the planning that goes into them. Second Wind Running’s Phil & Teresa are runners who design races for runners. I have no doubt next weekends event will be a great success.