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Kings of Anglia Issue 9 Magazine Offer

On the Run: tackling the Simplyhealth Great East Run

PUBLISHED: 12:30 17 September 2018

'On the Run' columnist, Carl Marston, heads out along The Strand (B1456), with the Orwell Bridge as a backdrop, during yesterday's Simplyhealth Great East Run. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

'On the Run' columnist, Carl Marston, heads out along The Strand (B1456), with the Orwell Bridge as a backdrop, during yesterday's Simplyhealth Great East Run. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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The Simplyhealth Great East Run was a roaring success yesterday. A half-fit Carl Marston was one of a field of 3,500 entrants, and he survived to tell the tale – just!

The top three at the Great East Run, from left, Suffolk-based runner-up Andrew Rooke, race winner Henry Pearce and James Reeder.  Picture: SONYA DUNCANThe top three at the Great East Run, from left, Suffolk-based runner-up Andrew Rooke, race winner Henry Pearce and James Reeder. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

What a day! The second Simplyhealth Great East Run lived up to its billing as the people of Ipswich, and beyond, turned out to make yesterday a memorable occasion, for runners and spectators alike.

Everyone was a winner.

The organisers, and sponsors Simplyhealth, must have been delighted with the sell-out event, which attracted 3,500-plus entrants, a mixture of seasoned club athletes, first-time fun runners and happy fund-raisers, all tackling the 13.1-mile half-marathon distance with a smile on their face.

Suffolk’s leading athletes had a good day, with Andrew Rooke, of Framlingham Flyers, recording a fantastic personal best of 1hr 07mins 31 secs on his way to second spot, behind race winner Henry Pearce, of Tonbridge AC.

Ladies' winner, Helen Davies, looked relaxed during the early stages of the Great East Run. Picture: SONYA DUNCANLadies' winner, Helen Davies, looked relaxed during the early stages of the Great East Run. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

And Ipswich’s own international star, Helen Davies, coasted to victory in the ladies’ race in 1:17:10, the Ipswich JAFFA marathon specialist finishing seventh overall.

I will be focusing on these two great runs in another of these ‘On the Run’ columns later this week, as well as mentioning some of the other speed merchants at the head of the field, but for the moment I thought I’d relate my own experiences of running in this half-marathon extravaganza.

I hasten to add that I was nowhere near where the real action was – the first time I spotted either a flying Rooke, or a surging Davies, was on the B1456 (The Strand) when they both came tearing down the road (not at the same time, of course) in the opposite direction, approaching miles 10 and 11, while I was about to toil up the hill to Freston around miles seven and eight.

But that’s the beauty of this race. You get to see runners going in both directions, streaming along the banks of the River Orwell, with the Orwell Bridge as an impressive backdrop.

I had not run a half-marathon, on the roads, for 15 years, so I was a little rusty – or fresh, depending on which way you look at it.

I had undergone a fitness test 24 hours earlier, by running another parkrun (a sightly smaller field of 67, at the Westmill parkrun near Ware), and emerged with calves still in tact.

Hence my participation yesterday, lining up in the first of three waves of starts – I was in the orange one, with the ‘big guns.’

A mass orchestrated warm-up, stretching those calves and hamstrings, and we were off.

Naturally, I ignored all the useful advice about not starting too quickly, and proceeded to run what was to be my quickest mile of the whole race (no surprise there), perhaps encouraged by the whiff of coffee emanating from the various cafes which lined the route for the first mile or so.

A swift first two miles and the bounce suddenly vanished from my legs as we gradually ascended through Holywells Park during the third mile. The bounce was destined not to return.

At least a flat section beside the Waterfront, through the docks and then out along Wherstead Road, offered a chance to recover, and also rehydrate at welcome drinks stations at miles three and six.

The gradual climb up to Freston sapped further energy from my tiring legs. I wasn’t going backwards, but I was being overtaken at greater regularity by runners of the fresher variety.

Like everyone else, I was buoyed by the fantastic support from thousands of spectators – I even spotted Sally Eastall, Suffolk’s leading light of yesteryear, and a marathon runner and Olympian of international renown – out in the wilds between Freston and Wherstead.

The final few miles back to the town centre, and the finish in the shadow of Ipswich Town FC’s Portman Road stadium, were, if truth be known, a bit of a struggle.

But all my niggles behaved themselves – every runner has at least one niggle to drone on about – to finish in `1hr 33mins 04secs.

This was more than 27 minutes behind the winner, and nearly 16 minutes adrift of the leading lady.

It was also 16 minutes slower than my own personal best, but then running/racing is not all about times and positions.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

- To help people get the most out of life, everyday healthcare provider Simplyhealth has launched a train and prepare section at https://www.greatrun.org/training-simplyhealth

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