This time last year I had sold my Stafford Half bib. After running the 10k in 2017 I really wanted to ‘complete the Stafford series’ and get the half medal. But after snow moved the date and me being plagued with a chest infection for a lot of last year, I wasn’t fit enough to run it. This year I was determined to run the half and even better I was running it with a friend!
For those of you who know Stafford, the race started this time near the leisure centre rather than the Market Square. In regards to the route, if you want a mixture of city and countryside running, flat and a bit of gradient then Stafford delivers. I arrived in plenty of time to park (park in the Waterfront multi story as it is only a £1 on Sundays) and get the race shirt when you get to the square rather than waiting at the end. For those of you with bags, the bag drop was at the theatre – no need to chase buses! There were pace markers running so I started with the 2hr 15 minute marker.
The race starts in town and works its way into the winding Staffordshire countryside. There are lots of crowds which is always a nice boost. Especially further to the end where there were copious amounts of jelly babies given out! One stand made me smile as someone had brought out their home brewery and was giving out small plastic cups of free alcohol! I think I would have thrown up if I drank any!
The weather was crazy to say the least. It started really clear, sunny but freezing cold. I wore shorts and a shirt as I knew that if I wore my leggings and under armour I would get too hot, and I was right.
About four miles to the end, however, it started hailing! It was awful having small balls of ice whipping my face and it spurred me on faster just to finish the race so I could get out of the weather!
The booklet that came with the Stafford Half race number says that you have to run 11 minute miles. Having done two half marathons before (Birmingham and Great North) which are both run by the Great Run company. I definitely noticed a different with the smaller Stafford Half where I would say the majority of runners were part of a running club so were used to running very regularly and less people were walking!
For those of you that are local to Stafford the race starts just next to the leisure centre and loops round past Rowley Park and up the A34 and I really started to feel it a little as I was gradually going up hill and out towards Baswich. From mile eight, where I was running on the path on Beaconside where the MOD building is based, was where I was starting to continuously check my watch and started to get a bit fed up trying to keep the momentum going.
One of the best scenic parts of the route other than the run through Baswich is between miles 11 and 12 which is the Isabel Trail. Isabel Trail (named after the locally built steam engine that used to travel along the line) is where the old railway line is and is used as a cycle and walkway with beautiful view of the marshes. I definitely want to go back and run the Parkrun there or even take the bikes down!
The finish of the route works its way back into town passing the train station running though to the Market Square. There weren’t many freebies (maybe I have been spoilt with doing lots of Great Run races!). But the medal was really good quality and the yellow ribbon is really striking.
Have you ran the Stafford Half Marathon? If you ran the half in 2019 I would love to know your thoughts.