Cheltenham Away-Day 10K and Half Marathon

‘The wheels on the bus’ were turning well before dawn at the Church Stretton pick-up, with peace shattered on arrival at Ludlow. So cosy, we admitted to being there, with some, anxious for the pending agenda of breakfast timing, so crucial for the pre-run digestion. This would sit however, to varying degrees of comfort as we typically bounced and swayed towards Cheltenham.


On arrival, a classic club photo-shoot revealed 42 feet, 21 smiles and our driver.

Following a brief hug with one of the famous horse statues, our sea of blue swelled into registration only to merge with all the colours of the rainbow, a nostalgic hint of an apothecary, and an increasing rumble of nervous anticipation.


Here we go, off to choose our start lane from the assembled pacing flags. While our support crew were searching for a grip of a Baileys coffee, the race director and team had us in the palm of their hands, with music beating for the warm-up and the spontaneous groovy dance moves. So lush!!


The course wound its way through residential and retail high streets, the stunning architecture of the city centre being a beautiful contrast to the lovely leafy parks verging into autumn colours. The pace was mesmeric, especially on the junctions populated with masses of clapping hands and the sudden jolt from the recognisable cheers from our own crew. Drums were ever present in the distance from between miles 6 and 9 in the half marathon, and suddenly, you were passing directly in front of them, their loud beat reverberating from between enclosed stone columns. You simply had to run the rhythm, a cracking way to keep the advancing pacer cohort in their place, to the rear. I never thought I’d feel like that but it was quite electric, and a touch eclectic, with what was to come.


The finish line excitement appeared too soon, just as foretold, but arrows and chicanes gave way to us facing the spectacular racecourse circuit. Feeling the heat now, camera shutters clicking in front of the grandstand, drum and bass bellowed at the sandy crossings, with hallucinating images of horses and fences providing a perfect buzz, over, around and back to the finish line cheers!


A tonic won the day, congratulations to all.


Peter Cartwright