Race report: Gosport Half Marathon

On Sunday I ran the Gosport Half Marathon with a friend, whose first half marathon it was. I’d agreed to run alongside them, at whatever pace they wanted to do, so it wasn’t a PB-attempt for me. In the end, though, we did a much faster time than we’d expected and maintained a steady 7:35ish for almost the whole way until the last couple of miles when we slowed down very slightly. In the end we got an extremely respectable 1:40, which is a cracking first-time time, especially for someone who’d originally signed up with the intention of breaking 2hrs, and set off from the start with the idea of doing around 1:45.

I’d picked the run sort of at random – we’d only decided some time in September that we wanted to do a half together, and both of us are pretty busy at weekends, so it was pretty much a case of finding a clear Sunday and then trying to find a half that was on that day. In the end, Gosport turned out to be a brilliant choice. A good-sized, well-organised run with a sizeable military crowd, lots of running club members, and not too heavy on the charity antics. The route was great, a big loop out and then back along the seafront done twice, very flat most of the way and with pretty views across to the Isle of Wight.

There were regular water stations (one of the benefits of a lapped course, obviously, being you get twice as many water stations for the same volunteers/effort) and they used water pouches which I’ve never seen before but are a good compromise between cups (which are a pain to drink out of on the move, and almost impossible to run with any distance if you want to be able to sip water slowly as you go) and bottles (which are great, but lethal to runners behind you when thrown on the ground). It’s possible that the pouches aren’t very environmentally friendly, so I don’t know if they’ll take off more widely in this very environment-conscious era, but from a purely selfish runners point of view they are a great ‘next-best thing’ to a water bottle with a sports cap.

The course worked really well, a mix of partially closed roads, wide pavements and (best of all) the pedestrianised sea-front made it easy to run at our pace with almost no worries about cars, bottlenecks or dodging crowds beyond the first half mile or so.

Final comment is on the goody bag which is far and away the best I’ve ever had with the possible exception of London Marathon’s (which, to be fair, had a can of beer in it). A) it came in an attractive cloth drawstring bag instead of a carrier bag, which is a load more environmentally friendly and also a nice alternative keepsake to a t-shirt, of which I already have far too many. B) it included a much better than usual selection of handy post-race snacks, including a big chunk of cake, a chocolate bar, a banana, and some other bits and bobs. And of course there was a very nice medal.

Overall, highly recommended and one I’d certainly be happy to do again in the future.

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