As races go, the 2016 Lincoln Half Marathon was kind of a big deal. Not just for us (it’s our home city), but also because of the fact that it’s the first time the city has held a half marathon in 25 years. So when we heard it was happening we jumped at the chance to take part. There are a lot of races in Lincolnshire, but few are of the kind of scale promised by a half marathon that heads through the city itself.
Lincolnshire is a big county, and having taken part in a few of the more localised events their, it’s clear that there’s a big running community, albeit one that’s spread thinly across the various towns and villages. To be honest, before we turned up on the day we weren’t entirely sure on the size of the event. Putting a large-scale event on in London generally drives a fair few runners to the start line. In Lincoln that’s a trickier feat, what with the travel involved.
The fact that the race started and ended at the showground a few miles out from the city meant a fair bit of traffic on the morning, not too much, but enough to mean people needed to turn up early to make sure they got in on time. In a relatively small city, finding a place large enough to hold a race village is always going to be tricky and in hindsight the showground meant that not only could the guys at OSB events offer a fairly impressive village setup, but having it in the city would have been a logistical nightmare. So yeah, a damn good choice of location.
With 2,383 finishers, it was pretty clear that the event had generated a fair bit of interest from runners, which is one hell of an achievement for the launch of a new event. It was as if Lincolnshire had finally put on the event that all the runners wanted, with club t-shirts and vests popping up from all over Lincolnshire and the surrounding counties.
So what about the really important bit? The course. As with most city races, a fair bit of the route covered the surrounding area. After leaving the race village, runners headed out along a four mile-ish road on the way to the city. Something that we always dread, especially considering we could see Lincoln Cathedral in the distance. Very far away in the distance. Luckily, as the showground sits at the top of Lincoln’s elevation, it meant a pretty damn impressive view across the countryside for quite some way. Twin that with the perfect weather conditions and you could almost forget the impending ten miles.
Finally we reached the city, which meant streets lined with cheering crowds, which are always a treat after a few miles. Heading through the cathedral gate and into the castle grounds was a really nice touch and visibly pepped everyone up for the rest of the course. After a long enjoyable downhill (where a man next to us reminded us we’d have to get back up it pretty soon), we headed down towards the Brayford waterfront for more cheers (Lincoln people are a nice bunch).
Alas the enjoyment soon disappeared as everyone headed back towards the hill. Suddenly things started to get really tough. Surely it wasn’t this long on the way down we thought. For twenty minutes we pushed upwards, the steady incline seemingly going on forever, until we reached the top. Whereas the first four miles of one road was relatively enjoyable, the route back wasn’t. With legs almost giving up from the hill, along with no sign of the end in the distance, it was a tough slog. Especially when you turn the corner into the showground again and see just how far the finish line in the distance is.
Finally we crossed it, the crowds cheering everyone across the line. The tougher races may not be nice during, but the sense of achievement you get at the end more than makes up for it, especially when someone passes you a beer at the end.
So yeah, the first Lincoln Half Marathon in 25 years was a pretty big success. Sure, it was tough, but tough is good, it’s character building, it marks a real achievement. For a first race it was pretty much planned perfectly. The marshals were excellent, the on route entertainment was great, the water and gel stops were placed exactly where they needed to be, and those Lincoln crowds did a damn fine job of supporting (and we’re not just saying that because we’re biassed). One hell of a medal as well.
To find out more about the Lincoln Half Marathon and for news on next year’s event, nip over to the website here.
Picture Credits: OSB Events