Race Review: Brighton Half

It’s fair to say the weather has been pretty wild.  As I drove down to Brighton on Saturday afternoon my car swayed in the wind and the rain came down so hard I could barely see the road…it could be a tough run along the seafront in the morning.  However, there were no signs of the event being called off despite the promenade looking like this…

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The organisers promised to clear the stones and the weather even promised all day sunshine – we would be very lucky if conditions were favourable.

My alarm went off at 6 and I sneaked downstairs for porridge and tea trying not to wake my cousin who I had stayed with.  She fed me a big plate of pasta and salmon the night before, complete with some go-faster sticky toffee pudding (I’m sure that’s what it was called…), so  I was fueled and ready to go.

The Brighton Half has been on my list for a while – I know there have been problems in the past, in 2012 the race came under fire for coming in long at 13.42 miles.  They blamed ‘human error’ but it didn’t go down well with PB hunters.  Learning from mistakes, they seemed to turn it around last year and, following winning the title of ‘Most Improved Race’ in Runners World 2013 Personal Best Awards, the 2014 race sold out in June.  I had fairly high expectations for a good race and a fun day.

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I had’t really thought through the logistics when I entered last year but, when the race pack arrived, I realised I needed to be down at Madeira Drive, where the race started, at 8am.  I live in London.  That would be an early/middle of the night start then!  Luckily my cousin lives down the road and didn’t mind me staying the night before so I could get up a a reasonable time.

My other cousin (also a local!) walked me down to the start bright and early and wished me luck before I headed off to find the baggage area…I walked…and walked…where was it?!  I started to panic that I would have time to hand my bag in and go to the loo before the start.  I have to say some signs wouldn’t have gone amiss, but I made it to the start line in good time bumped into a few Chasers.  A friendly smile and matching vest is always good to see!

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The route took us up to the Royal Pavilion and St Peter’s Church, then headed east along the front towards the Marina which involved a steady incline to the cliff top.  It was a glorious day, the sun was out and I was feeling warm but managed to keep a steady pace despite the hill.

We then turned back on ourselves towards the pier which offered some stunning sea views.  Although the incline wasn’t particularly steep, the decline was welcome by this point.  We ran past Brighton Pier and the West Pier, with great crowd support, but by mile 8 I was really starting to feel it.  I think I was too hot and dehydrated – long sleeves were definitely an error.

I really wasn’t sure about the mile makers and several other people also mentioned this.  Mile 1 popped up with 7.05 on my watch and I knew I wasn’t running that fast, then mile 5 appeared when my watch said 5.16 miles.  I was starting  to wonder if the distance would be wrong again…

Past the piers, the route headed into Hove along the Kings Road and up to Hove Lagoon before turning left onto the seafront.  The organisers had done a brilliant job of clearing the stones and the path was relatively clear.  By mile 10 I was really thirsty and woozy and thought it was a good idea to down half a bottle of Lucozade.  It wasn’t.  Of course it wasn’t.

After that I readjusted my goal from ‘finish under 1.45’ to ‘get to mile 12 without puking and you’ll be fine’.   Maybe it was the heavy marathon mileage in my legs, or last Sundays 19 miler, it could have even been the sun, but I was finding the last few miles really tough.  This was my shortest long run in ages and my pace was fairly controlled (mostly because the incline stopped me speeding off!) so I wasn’t sure why.

My pace slowed as we headed back to Madeira Drive, where the finish line was, but not as much as I thought at the time.  The crowds were lining the street either side and, despite really wanting to stop and walk, it obviously wasn’t an option so I pushed on.  Heading into the last half mile the screaming crowds got thicker and they spurred me right to the finish.  Thanks Brighton!

I finished in 1.46.49 but, despite missing my goal, it was a pretty good tempo run in preparation for Rome which is now less than 5 weeks away!

With Nick & James at the finish.  They beat me!

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After the race I took a short walk back to my cousins where she had laid out a buffet lunch.  I wasn’t expecting to be fed so I was more than excited by the homemade bread, chicken fresh from the oven, salad and strawberries!  After some family time I popped in to see a friend on the way home and made it back to London at about 7.  I was exhausted, totally exhausted!

Yesterday hurt, I could definitely feel it.  In fact, it hurt more than 19 miles the week before.  But that just means I was working hard right?!

In summary, the Brighton Half is a glorious race along the seafront with PB potential if conditions are favourable.  It’s well oraganised with a great atmosphere and awesome crowds.  Although I can’t remember how much the entry was, it was no more than any other big race, with a decent medal and a goody bag full of food!

Would I do the Brighton Half again? Definitely.  If you’re keen I would enter quickly when registration opens!

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4 thoughts on “Race Review: Brighton Half

  1. Well done — coming just shy of your goal WITH stomach issues is no easy deal. Way to make it happen! Definitely jealous that you’re running Rome – I look forward to reading about it 🙂

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