Sunday March 10th, 2019
Retford Half marathon starts and finishes from Retford Oaks Academy. The race has been a number of years and due to popularity the number of entrants has been increased to 1300. The Academy has quite a large parking area for those of us that arrived earlier on. Once full through parking was a little further away (but well sign-posted and marshals on route to give directions). Facilities were very good, two main halls, with baggage drop and number collection for those that didn’t get it by post. Lincolnshire Runner was also there with a stall. Toilet facilities were available both inside and a number of porta-loos set-up outside.
Before the race a group warm-up session was run for those that were interested and then the race started right outside the Academy with a small loop around the facilities and then out onto the roads around Retford. The main route away from the Academy had the road completely closed to traffic, once further out and on more rural roads just one side was closed off with cones. As there were so many taking part the first couple of miles was a little congested, for those faster runners I would recommend getting as near the front of start as possible.
There was one part of the route were we turned down what looked like a farmers lane were unfortunately due to the weather part of it was flooded. Runners were then going up on the verge to avoid the quite deep puddles and after a while the verge became very muddy and slippery so care was needed. But luckily it wasn’t for very long. The rest of the route was out on the roads with quite a number of marshals and other supporters to cheer you on. Drink stations were provided at 4.5, 6.5, 9, 11 miles and at the finish. For the most part the course was fairly flat (although nowhere near as flat as the Thames 20!) but did have a couple of inclines nearer the end of the race. Nearer the end as well we were running alongside very busy main roads so were directed to run on the pavement. This at times caused problems if you ended up behind a slower runner as there wasn’t much chance of overtaking at this point.
Once back at the finish, the runners were given a bottle of water. One of the only downsides at this point was that it wasn’t obvious as to where you collected your t-shirt from. No signs or directions were given, luckily I managed to find it back inside the main sports hall. In the second hall Yoga sessions were being run for finishers to help stretch out and just behind the hall were both male and female changing facilities. Which also included hot showers. I have to say although the weather wasn’t as bad as predicted it did rain quite heavily at one point on the way round and the wind got up making it a bit chillier. The hot shower afterwards was very much appreciated!!
I supposed the only real negative, which wasn’t the organisers fault…was that after about 2.5 hours most of the crowd of supporters had disappeared leaving the later runners to come in with not much encouragement. The marshals were still there as was the announcer but it did look rather quiet. I cheered some on when I came out of the hall. Maybe if the weather had been a bit better more people would have stayed, the wind had got up by then and was rather nippy.
Not so good Points
Have to say that was one of the more enjoyable races I’ve done in a while. Very well organised with plenty of marshals. Great facilities for both before and after the race and an enjoyable course. Couple of minor things that could be complained about but all in all it was pretty good. I’d definitely do that again.