World Half Marathon
Neil Morgan, has been with S&G for over 19 years and works in our Pre-Press department. He recently completed the World Half Marathon in Cardiff. Please see below Neil’s account of the race and the reason he got involved.
I’m late starter when it comes to running!
Apart from a few sporadic gym sessions I hadn’t really done any regular exercise for about 15 years, so after a few changes in my life I decided I needed to get myself back on track at the age of 39. I did my first run December 4th 2015 and after going out 2-3 times a week and started making progress. Helps keep the weight off too – last October I weighed about 14.5 stone, but I’m down to around 12 stone now. After a bit of nagging from friends and family I decided in February to sign up for the Merthyr Half Marathon.
My son Tom (14) is Autistic and can be very challenging, so when I ran the Merthyr Half I contacted his school – Greenfield School in Pentrebach – to ask if I could raise money for them. I was unable to arrange online sponsorship so they sent sponsor forms out with the schoolchildren and raised £153. Tom’s attended the school since an early age and they do a lot of great work there with children of various challenges, disabilities and limitations and I’ll always be grateful for that. After I completed the Merthyr Half on Mar 6th, I had the bug so signed up for the World Half Marathon 2016 in Cardiff Mar 26th.
When running the World Half I was able to run for the National Autistic Association so was able to get online donations (please have a look at my fundraising page – link below) raising £607 so far. Although it’s a national charity they’ve agreed to channel the money I helped raise into the Merthyr branch.
The World Half Marathon in Cardiff was amazing. Bad weather had been forecast so was expecting rain and wind but hoped it wouldn’t be too bad. We got down there around 12:30 to be safe so spent over an hour standing around soaking up the atmosphere and feeling very nervous – I just wanted to get on with the race; couldn’t stay still. The Women’s Elite race started at 13:30, then the overall race including the Men’s Elite Race (Mo Farah and the big names) started at 14:10. Due to the amount of competitors the starters were segregated into 7 pens in order to stagger the starters; I was in the third pen back so there was just a sea of people all around me – an amazing sight! I also got into conversation with a lady in front of me before we both realised we’d worked together in Woolworths about 20 odd years back and hadn’t seen each other since!
After all the pre-race entertainment – a choir, Rhydian singing ‘One Day Like This’ – we finally got away in relatively good weather, light drizzle at worst.
I’d surprised myself by running 1:52.54 in the Merthyr half so was secretly hoping to surpass that, although I’d dragged myself over the line then after going off too quickly!
I realised within the first mile that I needed to stop and go to the toilet! I desperately didn’t want to lose time but knew I’d have to – doing a ‘Paula Radcliffe’ was out of the question and also against the rules – so had to go at the first check point on 3 miles. After that it went well, the crowds were fantastically supportive all the way along; they really spur you on. The wind had started to pick up toward Penarth, then as I came off the Cardiff barrage it absolutely battered down – we were literally drenched and running into the wind for at least 10 minutes solid. I never dried out after that but the weather did ease a bit afterward.
As time went on I learned to make the most of the crowds who were handing out sweets and jelly babies, seemed to help me keep going.
The last few miles of the race were around Roath lake, which seemed to go on forever as I didn’t know the area well. Then in the last mile or so I had a very distracting, heavy breather running alongside me – at that stage I was so tired I couldn’t just run away from him and didn’t want to drop back because I’d worked hard for this and was hoping for a good finishing time. Luckily after a few minutes (it seemed like an eternity!) I managed to pull away from him and then came around the corner into the home straight – I saw the finish a hundred or so metres down the road and just started sprinting; the crowd alongside were great and gave me a boost. I crossed the finish line exhausted and turned around to see the time was approx. 01:56, which was initially a little disappointing. But the time on the clock is based on the time the people at the front start; because I was so far back my actual time doesn’t start until I crossed the start line – there’s a chip in your place number which is activated – so I later found out I’d actually ran 01:53.51. It was less than a minute outside my previous run, but given the adverse weather and my toilet stop, I was happy in the end.
It was a fantastic event to be part of, and I managed to raise some money along the way.
I need to book my next race now.
Neil Morgan – Prepress Coordinator