What a day! Sunday 26th May saw 5 Stoke F.I.T. runners line up amongst 226 other runners to tackle the very hard and hilly Buxton half marathon. Gregg Boughey, Lucinda Stone, Dave McGuire, Matteo Loforte and myself all met up by race HQ and discussed what we were up against! Only Gregg and Lucinda had done the race before, so the rest of us were unsure of what was to come and just wanted to get stuck in! Dave had done the Potter’s Arf twice before joining us at Stoke F.I.T. and had done the much flatter in comparison Stafford half since. Matt however, had no experience of racing yet! This was his first half marathon, and what a course to pick as a first!! They both run so well in training and I’m not sure they even realised what they were capable of, especially Matt when he started talking about taking 2 hours to complete.
After a warm up run, we headed over to the start line and lined up with some of the biggest and best local runners! I lost Dave and Matt at this point and wanted to find them to get them to join Gregg and I on the start line, not half way back in the queue – they don’t give themselves the credit they deserve!
The race was off, and after a steady 1 mile climb out of town, we hit the first main climb up to Dalehead. Gregg came past me strong as ever and after a little chat he stormed off up to the front! Half a mile later and Matt came up, bounding up the hill and carried on pushing on past a few other runners. At this point we could still see the leaders so I knew we were in for a good run! After a sharp left turn, we passed the first water station and was pleased to see Matt taking my advice and pouring the water over his head!!
On we went, past the ever encouraging Brian Dale taking photo’s and carried on for a mile or 2 of undulating course. Then we came on a big downhill and after hearing footsteps and breathing behind getting closer and closer I realised it was Dave closing down on me! It wasn’t long before he stormed past me! On we went through another mile of undulating ground and started another fast descent. I caught Dave and told him to push on with me and we would pick up Matt, who was 100M in front. I don’t think he heard me as I realised he had head phones in!!
On we went and I saw Matt at the halfway point and had a word – we had gone through half way in 42 mins 30 secs, well on for a sub 90 min finish; exceptional for his first race, and all ha had to do was run a second 10K. A mile later at the next water station and the race reared it’s ugly head!! It’s a big big distance running 13 miles, and until you’re used to it, it creeps up and hurts you!! 13 miles on this terrain is even worse and it started taking it’s toll!! I went in front and tried to help them up the next big ascent, the famous climb out of Glutton Bridge. I heard Dave talking to Matt and left them to it as they were in good hands with each other!
On I pushed and soon we were at the top, apart from a few small ups and downs, the last 2 miles was down hill into town and home and dry. Apart from the horrible last mile which takes you in and out of a housing estate!! I entered pavilion gardens at the end and new there was only 400M to go – once round a running track! A distance I know inside and out! I had spent the run so far keeping my heart rate at 90% of maximum as I was only using it as a training run for the Potter’s Arf in 2 weeks time but now with 400M to go I opened it up a bit and pushed on.
I approached the line to the sound of Gregg and his wife screaming at me so gave it a little burst and crossed the line in 1:35:37 and 34th place.
I spoke to Gregg Boughey and he told me he had finished 28th in 1:33:35!!! He was beaming from one big ear to the other, and rightly so!! A fantastic run and a result that most only can dream of!
I had only grabbed a bottle of water and my finisher’s T-shirt when Dave McGuire came bombing past and finished in a remarkable 1:37:02 to give him 41st place. After cheering him on over the line I was about to go back for Matteo Loforte, when he came flying past too, to finish his first ever half marathon, and arguably the toughest road half marathon in 1:38:29 to give him a fantastic 47th place!
After finding Matt and him getting his breath back, we all ran back to cheer Lucinda home – I aren’t brave enough to try and run her in after nearly getting a slap at Stafford half so we took position at the park entrance and within 30 seconds she too came flying past!! It was amazing to see, after the work she has put in towards improving her running technique that she literally bounced past us with a big smile on her face!! Lucinda Stone flew over the line in 2:00:30 to give her a 164th position finish. In the really tough conditions today, with scorching heat and energy zapping hills, Lucinda has managed to smash 4 minutes off her previous Buxton half time, which was ran in perfect running conditions!!
Well done all, a fantastic day out, with 4 top 50 finishes!! Well done to Gregg for his awesome run which nearly didn’t go ahead due to injury! Well done to Dave, who has proved he is comfortable with the distance and the hills! Well done to Matt, for stepping up and taking on this challenge for his first ever competitive race and absolutely smashing it, knocking 22 minutes off his expected finish time and proving he has what it takes to do the distance over any terrain again and again! Well done Lucinda for having what is probably her best race of this year and also on the back of last week’s equally hard Eyam half!
Today shows, that Gregg, Matt and Dave have done all they need to to be able to go and earn themselves a gold medal at Potter’s Arf in a fortnight’s time, and Lucinda is well on the way to having the race of her life too!! All the hard work has gone in over the past few months. Nothing more can be gained between now and 9th June, so rest up, enjoy yourselves, and we’ll see you on the start line!
I just hope that by then, Dave and Matt realise they are far better runners than me!! Once they do, they will be beating me, it’s not that they can’t, it’s just that they don’t realise they can!! Come on boys it’s all yours at the Potters!