Joyces’ New Forest Half Marathon Story


At the start of this year, my friend Diana told me that her hubby, our dear friend Andrew, had had a scan to investigate back/abdominal pain. He suffers from Crohn’s disease and Ankylosing Spondylitis so we thought it was something related to one of these conditions. He was soon diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. The news was devastating as survival rates for this type of cancer are some of the worst, even for those undergoing surgery and chemo. Only 20% are diagnosed early enough to be suitable for surgery. Thankfully, Andrew was one of those 20% and his cancer had not yet spread beyond the pancreas. He is currently having chemotherapy and not feeling too bad considering.

Diana has virtually no family of her own, so very much relies on her friends for support. Being such a lovely couple of people, they have many good friends who have all been amazing.

When she asked if I could do the New Forest half with her to raise money and awareness for the Pancreatic Cancer Action charity, I was only too happy to oblige. It sounded like the ideal pace for a running event.

And so the training began….or didn’t! As usual, life, family etc seem to prioritise into life. Rachel Gander and Helen Puxley were also planning to run a half marathon this year and I planned on joining them for a bit of training too. But we still didn’t manage as much as I’ve done for previous half marathons. The South Downs Marathon Relay with Helen, Rachel and Mandy Kianfar, earlier this year was my favourite part of the training and great fun.

Rambling on a bit here, but I don’t usually contribute much, so am making up for it now! I know you guys like a good shaggy dog tale!

It just so happened that Facebook reminded me yesterday, that j3this was the fifth anniversary of my first half marathon (Chippenham, Wiltshire, which my running fanatic brother talked me into after I’d spent a few years happily doing fun runs up to 10k only). That was the reason I joined Henfield Joggers in the first place, so I am glad it happened and that I’ve met so many lovely people through the club, including Rachel, who I’ve had many laughs with over the years and whose oldest daughter is in the same year at school as my youngest, although we hadn’t ever seen each other before running with HF Joggers! So I’ve run 5 half marathons now with the help of the Joggers, other friends, including Andrew who has also run for many years with the Lancing Eagles.

And so to today’s event. After travelling down to Hoburne in the New Forest on Friday evening (thought we’d make a weekend of it, so Di and Andrew arranged a caravan on a Hi-de-Hi style campsite!), we enjoyed the fruits of the forest on Saturday and awoke to a pink sky early this morning (Shepherd’s warning!). Luckily it stayed dry and we arrived at the event site in Brockenhurst around 1 1/2 hours before the start. They advised to arrive 2-3 hours early but we thought that a little extreme. For many others though, this advice should have been heeded, as they were stuck in traffic and arrived late. The start was delayed by 40 minutes to allow for this. So some last minute flapjack purchase was made and we began the warm up.

At last we made a start and enjoyed some very scenic jogging through Forest bridle ways and across heathland. Roadside ponies and cows were in abundance, along with cute little thatched cottages in the woods etc etc. We were passed by a blind runner with guide which is always admirable too. Road closures in place also added to the smug sensation!

Di and I had decided to stay together and run at an easy pace so no PBs expected today. Stiff legs kicked in around the 8-9 mile j2mark and gradually became more wooden feeling as we continued, but nothing serious. Fuelled on by Gourmet Jelly beans and super spectators along the way, we approached the last couple of miles. A horrid road split with outgoing runners on the right and returning ones on the left seemed to go on for miles but nicely turned around in a loop around Brockenhurst village, with a splash through the Ford (optional but I went for it).

That awful last mile took us around through the woods at the back of the show ground, so we could see the finishers in the distance across the field, around the outside of the show ground and finally into it. Thinking we were only a few yards from the finish line we erupted into a sprint (well, a slightly faster plod at least) only to realise this was a temporary scaffold structure that formed a bridge over the track to allow finishers out of the grounds. We returned to plodding pace around another couple of corners before spotting the actual finish and attempted to gather waning energy to run at plod plus pace toward it. A rush of joy as we crossed the line greeted by our support crew (see photos) and cheerful cadets a plenty with medals and goody bags. Phew!

20 physiotherapists awaited to offer free massage but queues looked too tiring to bother with so we headed to the catering field j1to rest and recover. Amazing vegi halloumi and stir fry veg wraps did the trick and off we set for our caravan to recuperate.

This is one I highly recommend and expect to improve as this is the first time they have put on a full marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k and woodland walk all on the same day. Great family entertainment in the “Race village” for your supporters too.

Toes in surprisingly good condition!

Think that’s a long enough essay so I will finish there, only to add that if any of you wish to sponsor us, please click on this link: JoyceDiVision at Virgin Moneygiving. I will post the link again on the Joggers Facebook page. ??