All systems go for the second Simplyhealth Great East Run in Ipswich
- Credit: Archant
The big day has almost arrived, if you happen to be running in the Simplyhealth Great East Run this weekend.
A bumper field of 3,500 runners are set to toe the line for this second staging of the Ipswich-based event.
Held over the traditional 13.1-mile half-marathon distance, the race takes place tomorrow, with the first of three waves starting at 10am.
The town will therefore be awash with thousands of runners (to say nothing of the thousands of spectators), all pounding the streets with their trusty pairs of trainers and colourful attire, race numbers pinned to their vests – each runner’s timing chip is attached to the back of his or her number.
I have been kindly invited by the sponsors, Simplyhealth, to run in the event, although my participation will hinge on a late decision, or rather a Saturday morning fitness test.
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I plan to continue with my parkrun tour (destination yet to be finalised) this morning, despite a niggling calf and a sore left foot (the remnants of a year-long battle with plantar fasciitis – this foot ailment occasionally flares up for a few days) and then see what state of repair/disrepair my body is in, having been put through a swift 5K.
My hopes are not too high.
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Overcoming injuries, or coping with niggles, will be a familiar story with most runners, of any standard.
That’s part of the challenge.
Tomorrow’s bumper event, after last year’s successful debut, promises to be another cracker.
The race starts and finishes on Russell Road, the route passing the prestigious Willis building before heading through the beautiful Holywells Park and travelling down to Ipswich’s vibrant waterfront.
The route then passes Felaw Maltings on the way out and back along Wherstead Road, where participants will see Fox’s Marina, Suffolk Food Hall and go twice under the iconic Orwell Bridge into Freston.
On returning to the town centre, runners will head towards Ipswich Town FC’s Portman Road stadium, passing the statues of two football legends, Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey (for some inspiration!), before crossing the finish-line in the stadium’s practice pitch and being welcomed by hundreds of supporters in the stands.
Overall, the Simplyhealth Great Run Series now spans 13 cities, and includes 30 events, involving 230,000 runners in total and also approximately 600,000 spectators. A total of £43m was raised for charity last year.
Last year’s Great East Run was won by Ryan Prout, in 1hr 12mins 23secs. Prout was running for Chelmsford AC last year, although the Essex-based athlete has since jointed Brentwood Running Club. He won the Great Bentley Half-Marathon in 1:10:44 in February.
Prout was followed home, at the inaugural Great East Run, by Ipswich JAFFA’s Robert Chenery in 1:15:04 (I bumped into him at the King’s Lynn parkrun only a month ago) and Stephen Skinner in third 1:16:07.
Odette Robson, an over-45 veteran from Saint Edmund Pacers, was the first female finisher in 1:23:31.
I wish good luck and fair speed to all runners tackling tomorrow’s half-marathon bonanza, whether they be in the lead group or enjoying the experience towards the back of the field.
I haven’t run a half-marathon for 12 years (my last one was the last stage of the Marathon des Sables, in 2005).
Of course Ipswich and the Sahara Desert are poles apart – but 13.1 miles is a very long way, wherever the location and whatever the terrain.
TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS
1: Stay comfortable – don’t use new trainers for the first time
2: Stay warm – runners can bring old clothes to wear on the start-line and then throw them away when they start (the organisers will donate these to charity)
3: If the first few miles are crowded, don’t tire yourself out by dodging in and out of runners.
4: Try to maintain a steady, even pace, and enjoy the event
8am: Event Village (Information Point and Baggage Area opens).
9am: Assembly area opens.
9.45am: Mass warm-up starts.
10am Start of the Simplyhealth Great East Run (orange wave)
10.05am: Start of white wave
10.10am: Start of green wave
- 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