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Wimbledon Common Half Marathon

Surely there are few people who don’t remember The Wombles? Even Fabian knows them, and he’s Swiss……but just in case click here for, er, a quick reminder!

Having seen some pics from 2014 I was determined to get ‘that’ medal, and if I could, a picture with a rather larger Womble than my memory suggest. Oh and run a Half Marathon to get them! A flurry of interest on the Joggers Facebook group led to Gayle joining me – technically she’s an ‘ex’ Jogger having retired from running, but realises (of course) that this was all a HUGE mistake and intends rejoining in time for the next Start Running course in April – so its OK to talk about her here then! Lorna found the entries filled up so quickly that she missed out – and on a lovely sunny (but chilly) morning Gayle and I popped up to Sarf Larnden to find out that there were HUNDREDS of people at the start – it was a big race actually! Well organised, with PA, Baggage storage and mobile toilets (you may know them as something else but apparently that is trademarked – don’t even think about it, just call them mobile toilets from now on!), but much bigger than we’d anticipated. And EVERYONE we spoke to ‘wanted the Womble medal’! Its popular.

For me this was 3 weeks after the Stinger and I thought I’d romp it with my marathon legs. How stupid. They felt a bit stiff and quite leaden at times, maybe that Marathon took a little more out of me than I realised? Now despite having lived ‘Sarf of the Rivva’wimbers2 for quite a few years, the nearest I got to the Common was drinking in the pubs (The Crooked Billet if I remember correctly?) many, many moons ago when I was a slip of a lad. So I was surprised to find that it was actually a bit hilly in places – the first mile and a half had some quite steep bits. Then it flattened out to mildly undulating for 3 miles ish, then a mile and a half downhill to go back through the start and do it all again! Trail throughout though at times you’re running next to main roads – the organisers had warned of ‘mud’ to spoil those pristine trainers (what!) so I wore Trail shoes – forgetting these are all Urbanites! There was NO mud, just beaten earth, dippy and root-y but NOT MUDDY! Grrrr – I could have worn road shoes which would have been better!

Come mile 10 I felt a pain in my left calf – surely not cramp???? Indeed it was, and it got worse so that by Mile 11 I realised it wasn’t going to go away. I thought of stopping and stretching and walking for a bit, but decided I might never start again, so tried to carry on. By Mile 12 I was in true pain and limping, but gritted my teeth and just felt slower and slower despite going downhill to the Finish. Which cheekily swerved around the back of the Finish line through the woods before looping around and onto the playing fields to the finish – which I was well happy to see. All in all I was happy with 2:05 as I really couldn’t do more than trot for the last 3 miles – one day I’ll see those sub-2’s again, but not today!

But the best bit for a sad old git like me (apart from the medal) was a Womble cheering people on near the finish – so I walked upWomble Paul to find him and grabbed a photo! Yes, I KNOW there was probably a middle aged bloke called Nigel inside the costume – but to me, IT WAS A WOMBLE _ THEY DO EXIST!

So – would I recommend this ‘out of area’ race? Yes, provided you get a womble medal as bling. That makes a difference, and you need to check that they’re giving them out – RunThrough were todays organisers and they run several such events on Wimbledon Common each year – but so do other organisers so if womble-catching is your aim, check first or you may end up with a tennis medal or something!

The downsides, and why I won’t do this again, are that its a very urban race, check those roads man! Its a 2 lap event, and I hate 2 laps. And you do come across a LOT of ‘Larnden’ type runners (and people in general) – living in Henfield has spoilt me – I expect friendliness, talking, waving, being friendly etc. Forget that – its heads down, eyes down, don’t look! There was another Charity event, a sponsored walk, going on at the same time today and we crossed each others paths continuously. I waved and shouted encouragement (I’m running, they’re walking!) and NOT ONE waved or acknowledged me. Our beloved Sussex Downs are no match for Wimbledon – Wombles apart.

gayle4And credit to Gayle – with little training she gritted her teeth and got around in 3:05, and wants to Start Running all over again – come back soon!