Race review: A run-out in Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire Half Marathon 2018

The Hertfordshire Half Marathon 2018 was, I would imagine, a roaring success for organisers, given nearly 1,500 runners gathered at the start line.

Interestingly, Sunday’s raceday, held at the iconic Knebworth House, the stately Tudor home near Stevenage, was only the second edition of the event.

I was somewhat surprised by this but word had obviously spread quickly that this is a run worth doing.

November and December are traditionally quiet months in the UK running calendar – mainly because of the testing weather conditions – so this event had a relatively competition-free spot in the general diary.

The race village was OK but lacked changing facilities or anywhere for runners and spectators to go inside and escape the cold.

The baggage facility worked well though, and thankfully, there were safety pins to attach race numbers at the venue (there were none in the initial pack).

Beginning at 9.30am, and after a short, mass warm-up, runners were divided up into anticipating finishing time areas to ensure a staggered start.

Out on the course itself, the marshalling was excellent and well-organised, with mile markers and recycling-friendly drinks stations helping to keep the Hertfordshire countryside pristine.

There were also many motivating signs and quotes, posted at various points throughout the route, which no doubt provided timely motivation boosts for runners.

Indeed, the support throughout the event deserves a mention as plenty of spectators lined the finishing line home stretch.

The course

Starting with a lap around the Knebworth House grounds, the opening stretch was harsh on the legs given it was downhill.

And, as such, was a sign of things to come.

Exiting the grounds, the route took in Old Knebworth on quiet countryside roads, which had been kept traffic-free especially for the event.

A lead cyclist led out the frontrunners while there were plenty of marshals on hand, too – though the route was well sign-posted.

The subsequent winding roads featured several ups and downs in equal measure and while the course wasn’t the fastest you’ll come across, the scenery and fresh countryside air made it an enjoyable Sunday morning race.

The final stretch to the finish line – a sharp turn back into the grounds and up the hill towards the House – was probably the most gruelling section and most likely put pay to PB hopes for many runners.

But, overall, a lovely end-of-year run and shout out to the event officials for providing free photos of each and every runner to download on Facebook.

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