Thursday, 22 June 2017

Race Report Benbecula Half Marathon Saturday 3rd June

Hello everyone

Hope you are all well? & enjoying our summer spell. It's been pretty hot here since last week but turning cooler again today.

Sorry it has taken me so long to write this post, but at last here is my race report from my trip to Benbecula.

Some of you will know & some of you won't, that my family moved up to the Outer Hebrides when I was a teenager, this was for my Dad's job, but my folks loved it so much they bought a house & stayed.

When I started running in 2010, I always thought of running the Benbecula half marathon.

As I got older, got a job & had a family of my own, my trips home became less frequent - usually once a year.

In 2016 when Mum was the most ill, I was home 6 or 7 times & ran every time I was home, often on the beach. Benbecula became my favourite place to run, the air is so clear & the sky so vast.

From a previous post you may recall that I had to withdraw from every race I entered in the first half of 2016 so whilst I would have loved to have run the half in 2016 - it just wasn't possible. When Mum died at the end of the year & I was carrying on with my run streak - it was one of my regrets that she had never seen me run. One if my biggest fans & so supportive.
Below is the text message she sent me the night before GNR in Sept 2016.

So I decided this year would be the year. I had quite a bit of apprehension prior to signing up, I had never entered such a small event - last few years circa 60 finishers & I knew there was a very real possibility I would be last....but after some thought I came to the conclusion it wasn't about the time & I took the plunge & signed up......

Friday 2nd June
Mr S, Little Miss Bug & I headed off to Glasgow & flew to Benbecula. Bug was so super excited - especially to see her cousins & Chloe the dog.
We visited my Dad & then Andy took us to The Dark Island Hotel where we were staying, but drove us round the course route on the way. This allayed my fears about where I was going & getting lost! Andy had marshalled with the coastguard the previous year so he was the perfect guide. Thank you. I do remember thinking in the car 'Oh Sh!t - that's a long way' & 'Oh it's not as flat as I thought' LOL

After a trip to the beach, a lovely meal in the hotel & collecting my race number.
Number 17 - how appropriate :-)

It was time for an early night.

Saturday 3rd June Race Day

An 11am start meant we didn't have to be up too early & the start at the school right beside the hotel meant not far to go.

After breakfast & getting ready it was time to head over.

The school was busy with runners, volunteers & supporters. I also saw my german teacher from school Phillip Harding who had his motorbike & was the on course mobile marshall. He was fantastic out on the course - so lovely to see him &b get the encouragement at several points from a familiar face.

2 other runners came up & spoke to me asking if I had run this before & sharing stories - it was nice hearing I wasn't the only one with apprehensions & thoughts of being last.

My English teacher Liz Dorian was also running. This is one of the things of a small place - everyone knows everyone.

No chip timing

No start pens

No portaloos - lovely facilities in the school

No road closures

No course time limit

Just before 11 Mr S & Bug headed up to beyond the start line to cheer for me.......totally loved Bug's cheering 'Come on Mummy'

I'd not been running particularly well pre race & in fact most days in the week before thought I had the wrong legs.....

It was a pretty fast start & before I knew it I could see my sister's house, just about a mile from the start & OMG there they were my very own cheer squad complete with tshirts.
Looking at my garmin told me I was going faster than I planned or expected but it felt good so I decided to stick with it.

The runners quickly spread out & I had expected that this would be a pretty solitary run but I ended up in a little group of 3, Douglas just ahead of me & Sara just behind me. I'd met Sara at the start & we'd had some run chat & it sounded like we were about the same pace.

At about 4 miles Sara started to drop back a little.

I reached the 6 mile mark considerably faster than anticipated so much so that my cheer squad were just arriving & had barely got out the car.

We'd had a tail wind till that point but at the turn right, it was now a pretty blustery head wind, but I was still smiling & loving every minute.

I was running really strong, still maintaining a pace I hadn't seen in weeks & feeling good. I passed Douglas about 6.5 miles.

My cheer squad also passed me in the car, shouting out the windows.

I saw them again just a wee bit further down the road at the war memorial & again before 9 miles I think. I'm pretty certain it's this support that had me running so strong but relaxed & smiling.

About 9 miles I caught up with & overtook another 3 runners.

At 11 miles I started to slow a little & felt a little tired but I knew there wasn't far to go. Seeing Amy & the girls at the turn into Creagorry & Phillip Harding was just the boost I needed. At that point Douglas overtook me.

The last mile back up to Linaclate seemed the longest but in the distance I could see the finish flag so I gritted my teeth & kept going, looking at my watch told me I was well ahead of the 2.30 - 2.40 finish I'd predicted. Just enough left for a final sprint with my inspirational sister & my lovely nieces cheering me on. Unfortunately & this is my fault Mr S & Bug arrived after I was done.

Finished in 2:23:38.

Tired, emotional, ecstatic.

My medal was put round my neck & I was given a banana & a mars bars & had a cup of juice.
There was a fabulous spread of soup, sandwiches & homemade cakes for the runners though I didn't have any (just can't eat immediately post race) it looked amazing.
I saw Sara at the end too & she'd run a good race too finishing a few minutes after me.....& neither of us were last as we predicted....not that it mattered.

Looking at the results there were 77 runners & 7 walkers -  a fantastic turn out.

The weather was kinder than expected as it had been forecast to rain.

Would I recommend it?......ABSOLUTELY 100%......
The volunteers, the marshalls, the ambulance, coastguard, runners & supporters - everyone was just incredible. I don't have a negative word to say at all. This is without a doubt my favourite event ever.
The most well organised, friendly, beautiful half marathon I have ever taken part in and though it cost a lot in terms of travel & accommodation for a race fee of £14 & a free swim included - incredible value for money

Would I do it again?....YES YES YES

Back to the hotel to clean up & then visited my Dad who was so incredibly proud off time Dad - you'll be out there cheering.

Then a very enjoyable evening with Andy, Amy, Andy's parents & the cousins having fun together.

Another early night....joys of a family room.

Sunday 4th June

A leisurely morning & a mile recovery run on the beach before heading home on the afternoon flight.
As always loads of Thanks yous
Mr S & Little Miss Bug, My Dad, My Sis, Andy, Sue & Simon, The girly gang. Mum & Dad S. My awesome little running family, friends, colleagues & just everyone who helped, supported & encouraged me.

But the biggest Thank you to the person who should have been there but couldn't be physically - My Mum, such an inspiration, with me every step of the way, always in my heart.

So through the tears, this has been as emotional to write 2.5 weeks later as it was on the day, I'll sign off for now.

Lots of Love to all of you
Fudgey xxxx


  1. What a great read this is. As you say I'm immensely proud of you and know your Mum would have been over the moon. Think this run and blog is a wonderful tribute to her. Thanks. Dad xx

  2. Really enjoyed reading that. Thank you and well done Claire.