The 29th October 2017 is the day I ran my 31st Half Marathon. It was my 3rd time of running the Love Luton Half Marathon, which was also celebrating its 5th Anniversary! For this occasion they decided to introduce a 10K race too. My sister took part in it and it was her first ever 10K race, and longest overall run ever. Celebrations all round.
As I have run this race 3 times now and the main structure of the day and the course has not changed much, this race recap will just be highlighting the differences. Please read my race recaps from 2015 and 2016 for more details.
The day was a chilly 11°C but it felt much colder. I live closer to the start line, this year, but as my sister was now running too, I went to pick her up first, dropped the car off back at mine, and then we walk/jogged to Stockwood Park Athletics Club. It was a nice little 1.5 mile warm up. As it was so cold though, we cooled right back down when we got there.
There were 2 lines for each race. After quick hellos to a couple of people, we got in our respective queues to collect a race number and chip each. I was lucky in that the queue was split after I joined it, in to the first and second half of the alphabet for surnames – and the L-Z line was shorter! A win for me! I collected my bib before my sister, and went to join her in the 10K queue. As soon as that happened they did the same split and she was the first in line. Win-win!
After we attached the chip to our shoes and I struggled to pin my number to my vest, because my hands were so cold, there was a call to go and take the Stopsley Striders group photo. Another change from last year is that I am now in a running club, and do not get left out of the group photos anymore! 🙂 My sister was a little jealous that she didn’t get in too – like me last year. But she was able to take this pic for me!
Shortly afterwards, the 10K runners were sent to the start line. Their race started at 9:00am and the half marathon was to start at 9:15am. I gave my sister a big hug and wished her good luck. They all started off well, as we watched them on their way. Then it was our turn. The start line was, from what I recall, in a slightly different position. We did not run a whole lap of the track this year. Just a third of it before we exited out of the track and into the park.
I think it was because the bib pick up area took up more room due to the extra race. To accommodate for that we had to do a little out and back before joining the first down hill and entering the Grand Luton Hoo! As you may recall, the most hilly, but most scenic, section of the course is within the first 11 km of the race, and in the grounds of the Luton Hoo. It is beautiful, and there was no fog to ruin the view today.
The first 10 km of the race was where I thought I would have an issue, if there was to be one. Those hills again! I was hoping for 2hr 3mins – as that was what could have been in Lisbon if it wasn’t for the heat and that hill in the last 3 km. If I cleared the hilly section of the course in good time, then my goal time could be achievable. I would be happy with 2hr 15mins as that would still definitely give me a course PB. The hills, although not easy, were not as tough as I remember. Am I enjoying running hills now? No that can’t be so!
Looking at the splits by year table below, you can tell that the first main hill is from the 4-5km mark! My first 5km in at 27:45!! That’s just wow! Thats around 7 minutes quicker than last year! As the table shows, that is basically how the other 5K segments went! The 2nd 5K segment had the remaining two big hills and hence turned out to be the slowest split at 28:36! But still under 30 minutes, which was great! The first 10K took 56:21 which is just 10 seconds off my 10K race PB!!!
Splits by year
|1-5 km||5:50 5:27 4:54 5:27 6:07; 27:45||6:34 6:31 5:57 6:44 8:37; 34:24||6:45 6:55 6:18 7:00 9:19; 36:17|
|6-10 km||6:15 4:49 6:24 5:44 5:24; 28:36||7:34 6:26 8:22 8:25 7:15; 38:02||7:51 7:20 6:43 7:55 8:30; 38:19|
|11-15 km||5:21 5:46 5:29 5:26 5:49; 27:51||6:27 7:27 6:54 6:51 7:55; 35:34||6:19 7:35 7:24 7:17 8:18; 36:13|
|16-20 km||5:41 5:50 5:30 5:36 5:49; 28:26||7:41 7:05 7:02 7:10 7:09; 36.07||7:27 7:25 7:34 7:48 7:53; 37:27|
|The Finish||4:49 0:20 – 05:09||7:11 0:39 – 07:50||7:38 0:37; 08:51|
The water stations were nice and evenly spread apart – coming in just after each 3 mile mark. I stopped to walk and drink my cup of water at each station. Bottles were also available, but as it was much cooler temperature wise, I didn’t really need that much water. I didn’t want to be carrying it around with me either. There were a couple more variations to the route after leaving Luton Hoo. Fairly minor, and I assume they were to help with insuring the overall distance of the course. Instead of going straight through the town centre we made a left turning and did a little extra loop before entering and passing the town hall.
The crowd was huge and the cheers were so uplifting and gave me such a boost, that just helped to carry me along more. There seemed to be so much more spectators than usual, I don’t know if it was because it was close to the finish line; or the 10K finishers added to the number of spectators; or because I got to this part of the course much earlier on, then I had done in previous years.
The remainder of the run took us through the residential parts of Luton and back to the town hall via Wardown Park. Again the route through Wardown Park was slightly altered, and the water station was not in the Park, as it had been in previous years. I saw many more familiar faces at this portion of the race – which was lovely. The second 10K took 56:17 which is just 4 seconds off my 10K race PB!!!
The last 1.1 km funnily enough felt like it took the most out of me. I had Mr Bull running along side me like my coach – spurring me on to take down the guys in front of me. I tried my best and did take down a couple. But then I saw the finish line clock show 1:58 which gave me an even bigger push to get to it before it ticked over to the next minute or even reach 2 hours – I could not believe my eyes! Evelyn run 13.1 miles in less than 2 hours!!! No way!!! Yes Way!!! Here’s the official results to prove it 🙂
My sister successfully completed her 10K race in the time she was aiming for too! Celebrations all round!
How was your Love Luton experience?
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