The Great South Run

21 October 2018

October came to a close with one more race, the Great South Run. This is probably the biggest race of the year in the south of England, although it is by no means the longest, being just ten miles. Yet again Commando was pacing and would be running far slower than normal. He would also be wearing bunny ears and a flag.

Getting into Southsea at all proved quite problematic. We left stupidly early but the traffic was terrible and we sat in a long jam wondering if we’d ever make the start line. We did of course, but too late to really enjoy the VIP changing facilities in Southsea Castle. 

Commando had just about got his pacer shirt, ears and flag on when the call came for official pacer photos. While the professional photographer faffed around arranging everyone in different poses and fiddling with his ultra fancy camera, I took a few shots of my own. 

After this the pacers ran off for a warm up and I grabbed a quick coffee from the VIP changing room. There are some advantages to being a pacer’s wife, although the coffee wasn’t all that great.

They all arrived back just in time to go back out again to the start line. Here there was a bit of hanging about, waiting for a TV interview that never actually materialised. Things were rather crowded and I knew there’d be no chance of start line photos so I wandered off to find a good vantage point somewhere on the course.

As it happened I found an almost perfect spot at about mile six, or maybe seven, close to the Jolly Sailor pub. Moments after I arrived the fastest runners began coming past. The lone, rather young and inexperienced marshal on the corner seemed glad of my company and we stood chatting for a while, with one eye on the trickle of runners coming past.

It was all very pleasant and companionable until a driver, who obviously believed the road closures didn’t apply to him, pulled up and began rudely asking the marshal to remove the cones and let him through. Quite rightly, the marshal refused but the large and aggressive man was having none of it. He got out of his car and began to move the cones himself. There was little the poor marshal could do to stop him. Unfortunately, in his anger, the man had forgotten to put his hand brake on and his car began to roll onto the course. In the nick of time he jumped back in, ran over the remaining cones and drove up the course towards the runners. Luckily, at this stage there weren’t many runners on the course and no one was injured but the man was extremely rude and intimidating and it could have all been far worse.

Not long after this disappointing and rather scary incident the first of the Spitfire runners began to come past. Now I was too busy taking photos to dwell on what had happened. It would be a while before Commando arrived but there were other pacer shirts and bunny ears to cheer on, including Gerry and Nick.

There were also a few pretty odd looking runners to amuse me. One was dressed as some kind of Star Wars character, at least I think that was what his costume was. It looked a bit on the hot and claustrophobic side to me. He was followed by more familiar pacer faces, Big Dave and John, who both gave me a wave.

They were both bang on their target times but no one would have blamed them if they’d been running a bit faster than they should. Right behind them was the Incredible Hulk! Behind the Hulk came two more Daves, one of whom was running under the name Daniel for some reason, closely followed by a gorilla. It was hard to imagine how hot it must have been in that furry suit. Now the sun had come right out I was roasting in my thin parka.

After a few more pacers and friends, including Pacer Rob who totally ignored my shouts of encouragement, came two ladies dressed as flowers. They looked absolutely lovely, if a little wilted by the heat.

The flowers were followed by more pacers, friends and what I’m fairly sure was a Cookie Monster. Going by the times on the pacer flags passing by I expected Commando along fairly soon. By now the runners were coming thick and fast though so spotting him might not be easy.

Then Abi came past with a one hour fifty flag. This was the pace Commando was running and I expected him to be with her but he wasn’t. Several minutes of worry passed, along with several friends and a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle, apparently called Mark. Part of me thought I might have missed Commando in the crowds, another part was worried something had happened. We have had way too many injuries and illnesses in the last couple of years and the idea of another was truly scary.

What I didn’t know, mostly because I’d left the start line before he set off, was that there were one hour fifty pacers in two separate waves starting at different times. Abi was in the first wave, Commando was in the second, more than ten minutes behind her. They were a very, very long ten minutes, filled with thoughts of all the possible disasters that could have happened. Then I spotted him in the crowd. Right behind him was Tony, the chimp and a ship called Victory with two sailors.

Of course there were still pacers and friends to try to spot but I was far more relaxed now I knew Commando was OK. Of all the weird and wonderful costumes that passed me by, the strangest came right before I headed back towards Southsea Castle. It was, of all things, a portaloo! Now I think I’ve seen everything.

So I walked back along the course, stopping every now and then to snap the last of my friends on the course. Past experience told me there was little point trying to find Commando in the crowds at the finish line. Once he’d collected his medal and got changed he’d have his phone and would call me. After a quick visit to the VIP changing room, hoping to find some coffeee left (I wasn’t in luck), I climbed up the hill behind the castle, looked out over the tents of the race village and enjoyed a snack and some water. Even though I hadn’t run a single step, it had been a long, hot day.

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Southsea rock garden

2 September 2018

There was no sign of the fast boys by the Pyramids when I got there. It was still a little early and running is not an exact science so I wasn’t overly worried. Knowing they’d be back fairly soon, I didn’t want to stray too far but, right next to the Pyramids, is Southsea Rock Garden, the perfect place to while away the time.  Continue reading Southsea rock garden

The changing fortunes of Southsea Castle

2 September 2018

Like most of Henry VIII’s castles, Southsea is a short squat affair. Even as I got closer, it didn’t look any more like my idea of a castle but, of course, today was by no means my first visit. Probably, with a little more warning of today’s walk, I’d have done some research and found something different to look at in Southsea. F.G.O. Stuart took several photographs of the place I could have recreated if I’d had copies on my phone. Still, the castle was there and I had time on my hands. Besides, even familiar places can hide surprises.

Continue reading The changing fortunes of Southsea Castle

A brief history of Southsea, a church and an awful lot of monuments

2 September 2018

The fast boys decided to go for a run in Southsea this morning and, as it was a beautiful sunny day, I thought I’d go along too. We parked up near the Pyramids, fed the parking machine and met up with Rob, Mark and Gil. Then the fast boys ran off and I was all alone to wander, just how I like it.  Continue reading A brief history of Southsea, a church and an awful lot of monuments

Run rabbit run

22 October 2017

This morning we got up for a run we weren’t sure was going to happen. Hot on the heels of hurricane Ophelia came Storm Brian. It arrived on Friday night, all wind and rain battering the bedroom window. On Saturday morning I did the unthinkable and stayed in bed nursing a cold I’ve picked up from CJ while Commando went to parkrun in the howling gale. Even parkrun was in doubt but, after Commando and Rob, who was RD for the morning, walked round to check for fallen trees, it did go ahead. Meanwhile, a few miles along the coast in Southsea, the Saturday Great South Run events were being cancelled and there were some doubts whether the ten mile race today would go ahead. Continue reading Run rabbit run

Pieces of Eight

8 October 2017

With the Winchester walks, the Half Marathon and the CC6’s, it seems like years since I last had a nice quiet Sunday. When I went to parkrun yesterday morning I thought I’d be getting a lie in today. While we were having our post run coffee though, everyone was talking about races. Almost everyone was running either the Portsmouth Pieces of Eight or the Bournemouth Half Marathon. Everyone except Commando and Rob that is. All of a sudden they had a bad case of race envy. Before I knew what was going on they’d decided to try to get last minute places for Pieces of Eight and I was waving goodbye to the idea of a lie in.   Continue reading Pieces of Eight

Spitfire spotting at the Great South Run

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23 October 2016

As Kylie and I strode off across Southsea Common past food vans that made our mouths water and through crowds of other spectators all vying for good positions, I rang Commando. He’d had a head start on the position finding front and told me he was on the opposite side of the common somewhere near mile five, or so he thought. Given the size of the common and the number of people, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to find him.  Continue reading Spitfire spotting at the Great South Run

Bunny ears and the Great South Run

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23 October 2016

Another Sunday morning and another cold, early start. This time it was for one of the biggest races of the season, The Great South Run.  The sun was barely up when we set off for Portsmouth. The race didn’t start for hours but we knew finding somewhere to park wouldn’t be easy and we didn’t want to miss the team photo. There was a tiny amount of getting lost and some entering Portsmouth then leaving, then reentering Portsmouth from the opposite side, but I wasn’t driving so I’m not taking the blame. Continue reading Bunny ears and the Great South Run

So why do they call it the Muddy Beach Run? – first published 23 February 2014

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Something was bothering me about Commando’s half marathon as I struggled against the wind in February 2014. The alternative name was the Muddy Beach Run! Now anyone who knows Commando knows he is rather fond of being clean. He is even more fond of his car being clean and we’d driven down to Southsea in his car, not mine. Muddy Beach Run conjured up images of people barely recognisable under a thick sticky coating of, well, mud. Somehow I could see things going very badly. Continue reading So why do they call it the Muddy Beach Run? – first published 23 February 2014

The Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon – first published 23 February 2014

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The worst thing about races is the getting up early on a Sunday morning. On 23 February 2014 we were out of the house at about eight and on our way to Portsmouth. I, for one, was barely awake. The blast of freezing air between the house and the car did help with that but it didn’t inspire a great deal of enthusiasm for walking along the sea front. Continue reading The Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon – first published 23 February 2014