A large and long-running race first held in the year after the inaugural London Marathon in 1980. It’s remained a popular race for runners preparing for the capital and a favourite for PB chasers thanks to its flat course and excellent support.
Where: Bath City, West England
When: March 2nd 2014
Official race website here.
- There’s a bit of a walk in the crowds to get from The Rec rugby ground (race village) to the start on Great Pultney Street – if you’re not early you will find yourself right at the back and not in a designated area
- Take advantage of the straights and knuckle down to improve your time
- Look out for the small steep climb just before Queen’s Square – it’s the only real climb on the course.
- Make sure you sign up to the correct wave start or you could have a slow start making your way through the crowds
What’s the organisation like?
The Bath Half is a well organised and popular event that brings runners from far and wide.
The pre-race packs are very informative and in 2014 included a very useful guide to the event. The race village is quite busy and full of tents with everything from physios to charities. Although, it is sometimes tricky to find exactly what you need.
Getting to the start line involves a bit of a walk in the crowds to get from The Rec rugby ground (race village) to the start on Great Pultney Street. Even though there are colour coded start groups, if you’re not early you will find yourself right at the back and not in a designated area. With more than 11,000 people taking part, you could argue there may be a few too many entrants!
In terms of spectators it’s perfectly organised and easy to find a spot to catch a glimpse of those Tarmac pounders.
How does the course shape up?
For one of the most beautiful cities in England, the route isn’t that scenic. However, considering Bath is very hilly overall, the run is pretty flat and there are lots of long straights where you can knuckle down on getting a good time.
The roads are all shut off too so no traffic to worry about and it’s very well marshaled. There are usually some big name elite runners as well as some fairly well-known celebs taking part.
How was the atmosphere?
This is where the event comes into a league of its own. It has enormous crowds and support. And most importantly it has them all the way round.
Even at the furthest point from the city centre there seemed to be plenty of cheering, banners and general Somerset spirit. Even in the pouring rain this year (2014).
There is plenty of music played on the route too. Not just radio stations and locals blaring out the latest Spice Girls number, but also live bands playing too!
The event has such strong community and charity links, it seems everyone is desperate to make sure you give it your best and runners feel like they’re running the Olympic 100m final all the way round.
It’s a great place for a PB or to attack your first half marathon. Most runners complete the course in 2hrs 30 mins as it is fairly flat. There is one small steep climb just before Queen’s Square that’s a bit tough and a couple of other gentle hills but nothing like the hills seen elsewhere in the city.
For more competitive runners, it can be hard to get out of the crowds in the early stages of the race simply because it is so busy which leads to a slow start for some so make sure you sign up to the correct wave.
What is there for Apres Race?
Bath is a brilliant city with some big tourist draws like the Roman Baths but there are also loads of little cafes to have tea and cake in so our advice is to go and chill-out for the afternoon in one of them and treat yourself to a just reward after a hard morning’s work!
Make sure you either leave early or late though as the traffic can get pretty bad with thousands of cars trying to leave the city at once after the race.
My Race Diary
By Matt Tozer
Race no.: 2nd Half Marathon (regular swimmer and triathlete)
I hadn’t done a half marathon officially for quite a few years as have been focused more on swimming and triathlon events, so it was great to get back in with the running community.
I joined the event late but was lucky to get a place – you normally need to sign up really early. I was in good shape running-wise but did very little half marathon distance training.
I’d completed the distance a couple of times last year after getting lost on rural runs (yes this happened) so knew it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch and in the build up had at least done a 14k and 16k.
Because I got stuck in the crowds and had put down a far too slow of a time, I found the first 5k very tricky to get any pace. Had to zig-zag between people who in the end meant I actually did about 1km extra according to my running app.
After the initial sardines in a can syndrome, I managed to find my groove and comfortably post a PB. The flat route and cool/damp conditions definitely helped.
In the end finished in 1 hour 30 minutes dead although had run the distance in 1hr27 but as mentioned I did a bit extra. Either way was very happy with my time and loved the event – would happily come back next year.