Wind affects times

Amongst the 7,000+ strong crowd that lined up on Victoria Embankment on Sunday, were 9 Hermitage Harriers ready to take on the 2011 Nottingham Half Marathon.

With thunderstorms forecast earlier in the week, the race started with blue skies and mild breeze. The route took a slightly different course in the last mile, with the finishing straight being replaced by a cruelly placed earth bank followed by a twisting section, thanks to onsite flood defence works.

Starting with the Cooper Parry Corporate Challenge, now in its 9th year and having raised close to £250,000 for charity, the event entails 5 runners running sections of the half marathon course between 2.1 & 3 miles in length.

Club Captain Paul Gregory turned out on leg C - the longest (3 miles!) and hilly leg taking in the climbs through the Uni, up to Wollaton Park entrance and up to the house at the top of the Park. The chase was on and an enthusiastic 5:20 opening mile saw him haul RBSG into the lead half a mile later. Delayed fatigue saw the middle mile and climb up to the park a little steadier but a 5:28 third and final mile gave RBSG a decent lead. A close run thing in the final 2 legs but RBSG secured their 3rd title and set a new course record in the process of 1:23:18!

The day’s headline performance was provided by Alastair Watson, who ran an absolutely awe inspiring race to finish in 4th overall position in a time of 1:12:02, just 30 seconds from a prize podium position, but a full 2 minutes ahead of the next placed runner. Ally not only secured a personal best, but also firmly placed himself in the clubs’ Hall of Fame as the best half marathon performance - ever.

Ally commented "I love running this half due to its varied route the great local support that gathers throughout the course and it also happens to be on my doorstep. The last few runs here have seen me struggle from Wollatton Park onwards due to going off too quick. I also knew the wind was into our faces going out to the uni so I consciously started steady, working with the lead lady for the first four miles. At mile 6, at the top of the hill in the Uni campus I would push on, if I felt fine, which I did. The strategy worked as I covered the second half of the race quicker- from my hundred odd races I don't think I have ever negative splitted- taking a slowing 4th place man in mile 12. The worst wind in fact was between 11 and 13 miles near the Experian buliding and this probably cost me a sub 72, which was my prime target. The end was not what I expected due to the slalom nature and having to negotiate some corrugated iron sheets due to the embankment upgrades so I couldn't do the sprint finish that I would have liked. All in all I finished strong for my first half in two years, was very pleased with the time and position given the weather and course."

The next Harrier to cross the finish line was Pete Nicholls, who too pulled out a personal best performance of 1:28:27 for a highly commendable 97th position.

Craig Johnson completed the 13.1 mile course in a time of 1:48:27, with Trevor Hope finishing in 2:01:37. Next arrived Caroline Scrimshaw in 2:04:26, Kate Reeves and Rob Hickey in 2:05:23 and 2:05:24 respectively, with new club member Paul Ridgway finishing in 2:18:01. Rachel Sellars completed the Harriers contingent with 2:28:15.