The Main Event

With its no-non­sense ap­proach, the Fleet Half Marathon is all about the run­ning, finds Kerry Mccarthy

Runner's World (UK) - - In This Issue -

The Fleet Half Marathon

THE PHRASE ‘BY RUN­NERS, for run­ners’ has been a source of cu­ri­ous amuse­ment in the RW office. Our in­boxes re­ceive a steady trickle of press re­leases us­ing the ex­pres­sion to show that what­ever race, prod­uct or ser­vice is be­ing plugged is more gen­uine, more au­then­tic and some­how more con­nected to the run­ner on the street than that of any com­peti­tors. For the most part it’s tosh, but when it comes to the Fleet Half Marathon (whose or­gan­is­ers are not averse to bust­ing out the slo­gan them­selves on oc­ca­sion), it’s a claim that is eas­ily jus­ti­fied.

The ex­per­tise and in-depth knowl­edge of the or­gan­is­ing team is ev­i­dent ev­ery­where: the am­ple space af­forded to the Calthorpe Park

race HQ so run­ners don’t feel on top of each other; the itab tim­ing strips on the back of your num­ber so you don’t have to wres­tle with tim­ing chips in your laces; the thought­fully plot­ted course that gives you just enough va­ri­ety in pro­file but never at the ex­pense of fast run­ning; the wa­ter pouches that you rip open with your teeth so you don’t have to slow down and fid­dle with a bot­tle top; the well-mar­shalled mar­shals; the qual­ity medal; there are even – whis­per it – enough toi­lets.

It should be no surprise, re­ally. When the race launched in 1982 Fleet & Crookham AC stated its mis­sion: ‘The pri­mary aim is to pro­vide a well-or­gan­ised race that places the run­ners’ needs and en­joy­ment above all else. By aim­ing for a per­fect race, rather than max­i­mum prof­its, the whole event be­comes a “spec­tac­u­lar” for par­tic­i­pants and spec­ta­tors.’

It was this out­look that per­suaded Lon­don Marathon co-founder Chris Brasher to al­low them to of­fi­cially call the race the ‘Pre-lon­don Fleet Half Marathon’ and mar­ket it as the per­fect event to tune up for the big day in April. It’s tes­ta­ment to the suc­cess of the for­mula that, in the 35 years since that first race – when Gurkhas en­ter­tained the crowds with pipes and drums, and the Red Devils dropped in to run the race be­fore de­part­ing im­me­di­ately for the Falk­lands – that the es­sen­tial DNA of the event has re­mained the same. Sure, the route is not par­tic­u­larly mem­o­rable – we ran on a mix of sub­ur­ban and coun­try roads, with a cou­ple of cross­ings of the M3 mo­tor­way thrown in – but some­times the fact that you get to the end of a race and can’t re­ally re­mem­ber any land­marks of note is ir­rel­e­vant if you’ve been given the chance to run your back­side off and have crossed the line with your run­ning lust thor­oughly sated. The ev­i­dence shows that I’m not the only one who ap­pre­ci­ates the quiet pro­fes­sion­al­ism of events like this: al­most all the 3,500 avail­able places are snapped up be­fore Christ­mas each year so if this sounds like your bag it’s one to stick in the di­ary well in ad­vance. Now if only there was a slo­gan to show what the race stands for… Hamp­shire, March 19. fleethalf­

SE­RI­OUS BUSI­NESS That’s the ‘ PreLon­don Fleet Half Marathon’ to you.

FLAT OUT But there were a few hills to tackle, too

WHAT BLINGS YOU HERE? One more medal for the col­lec­tion

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