Stafford half marathon. Colin Bancroft.

It was the day of the race and I was feeling so excited and nervous at the same time. I woke at 6.00am to ensure that I could have my breakfast nice and early and prepare myself for the day ahead. At 8.00am I had a protein shake I was dressed in my Stoke FIT vest and shorts ready to go. I set off with the family and arrived in Stafford for 8.45am, once we arrived in the market square there was already a see of red and white; what a feeling, being part of such an amazing family of runners. People were talking race strategies and their target times, mine was to break 2 hours for the first time, the support was fantastic with everyone encouraging each other.

When it was the time for the race there were pockets of red and white each moving towards the timing blocks signed on the railings at the start so I positioned myself near the 1 hour 50 mark with some fellow Stoke Fitties, there was a lot of chat before the race and some real good camaraderie, this really put me at ease. Once the race had started it was a slow walk/ jog to get over the starting line then it began. There was a bit of bottle neck coming out of Stafford town centre, but once around the first corner you could start and stretch your legs and run at your own pace. I had a plan and was running by Heart Rate, which I would strongly recommend; even if you are only just starting. I was running at 80% HRR for the first mile and clocked a sub 8 min/mile, this felt amazing what a lift so I maintained this level of effort up to the first water station at 3 miles. I had a couple of sips of water and discarded the bottle, so I kept going clocking sub 8 min/miles; I could not believe I was maintaining this speed, but I have to give credit to all of the support at Stoke FIT for helping me achieve this. So I kept going the 5 mile marker was past, then the 7 and then there was an incline up to the university. I could not believe the amount of people that I went past running up hill, as I used to be so afraid of any incline and now actually enjoy them, but don’t tell Frank!!! then it was a long straight along a cycle path back towards the town centre. I caught up with a couple of other Stoke Fitties and they were so supportive and encouraged me to keep going, this gave me a new burst of life so I finished strong. The last mile was a grind but was the second or third fastest mile that I had clocked out of the 13 which was a great feeling. I saw a load of Stoke FIT support coming up to the finish line and hearing them shouting go on Colin you are doing great, keep pushing was all I needed to hear; I crossed the line with a chip time of 1:41:29 so more than smashed my 2 hour target.

Just after the race Paul Shenton came running over jumped up and wrapped his legs around me, he was so proud of what I had achieved and he was there to support all of the Stoke FIT runners, I have to say a massive thank you to him as I probably would have given up on running due to an injury and losing total motivation, but he messaged me and got me back out on my feet.

So all I can say is the feeling of completing and accomplishing your goals, whether it be to get round, break 1 hour 30 for a half or whatever is absolutely fantastic. So even if you are new to the club don’t be afraid to enter races, you’re entering against yourself and your own targets, the support from the leaders will get you to where you want to be, but just listen to their advice and you will be fine.

It is now coming up to a week after the event and I am still buzzing, I will never ever forget that race; like I will never forget any of the races I have entered. I have got the bug now; as the feeling of crossing that finish line is like scoring the winning goal in a cup final when I was a lot younger!!! So don’t be afraid, get your trainers on, sign up and do it!!!!