October 29, 2019
The Bournemouth Marathon Festival – 10k on Saturday October 5th 2019
The Bournemouth Marathon Festival 10k was a success due to a great deal of preparation that included training at home by using both rowing machine and skipping rope, items bought specifically to bolster my training. I had not skipped since I was a child and had forgotten just how tough it was!
We arrived at Bournemouth Pier some 30 minutes before the start. The weather was set fair as we joined a crowd of runners waiting expectantly for the race to start. The atmosphere was exciting and carnival-like. Cliffe (my VI Guide) and I were tethered together as we had practised at Bournemouth and Poole parkruns. It was our first running event together.
Cliffe acted as my eyes and guided me safely through the bunched up runners at the beginning of the race. He guided me over piles of sand on the promenade, through bollards as well as on and off kerbs. I had complete confidence in Cliffe as my VI Guide, giving me the chance to enjoy the run without worrying about bumping into other runners or stumbling and hurting myself.
We managed to keep to a steady 11 minute-mile pace throughout the race and our finish time of 1 hour 10 minutes fitted perfectly with the training regime set these past six months. It was great to have the support of friends and members of the public who shouted out our names as we ran past. The applause coming up to the finish line was brilliant. Thanks to everyone who came to support us.
The Great South Run – 10 miles on Sunday October 20th 2019
Cliffe and I walked in fantastic weather conditions from Portsmouth Harbour train station, soaking in the atmosphere of the occasion as we joined thousands of other runners making their way to the Southsea Pyramids baggage point. After carefully storing our bags we were directed to the front of the race assembly to join another visually impaired entrant and her guide. Behind us were the elite men runners, club runners and fun runners, 20,000 in total. In front were just Eilish McColgan and about 20 other elite women runners, the TV cameras from Channel 5, special guests Timmy Mallet and Jet from Gladiators, the Mayor of Portsmouth and many, many spectators. There was motivational music blaring out and the loudspeakers were providing information all the time. A camera helicopter was hovering close-by. What followed then was totally unexpected!
About four minutes after the elite women set off, we were told by the race starters to get ready. Our VI pal, her guide and Cliffe and I had the course to ourselves for the first three miles or so. An expectant crowd had only us to cheer and boy did they cheer! Enthusiastically screaming out our names as we ran past; race numbers on the front of our running vests helpfully included our names in big bold letters.
We passed various musicians along the way and to my surprise as we headed past the dockyard, a Scottish pipe-band struck up. Wow! My thoughts immediately returned to my childhood home and being at the Selkirk Common Riding. The crowds would cheer the Standard Bearer leading a cavalcade of about 400 to 500 horses at the end of the Riding. However, today and in Portsmouth, it was us four being cheered on. I felt overwhelmed, thinking that I had never experienced anything quite like this!
Cliffe continued to give me a “running” commentary as we were passing the different historical landmarks and still the people cheered.
The elite men caught us up around the four mile mark and soon after the club runners. It was time to really concentrate as we tried to keep out of their way when as they sped past us. Many of these runners tapped me on the shoulder as they passed saying “Well done” and some said “Well done, Guide Dogs” which was written on the back of my running shirt.
The last couple of miles were draining, but the encouragement from the crowd was brilliant, keeping me going to the end of the longest run I have ever done! It was a wonderful experience and I am so proud of our 1 hour 50 minute time. Thank you the people of Portsmouth for your wonderful support. Next stop and it’s my first half marathon at Hampton Court Palace on 15 March 2020.