12 min read

Half Marathon Run

My "Leeds Half Marathon" in memory of Russ

Earlier in the year Russ mentioned that he’d signed up for the Leeds Half Marathon, having completed a couple of 10K runs. I was impressed. A half marathon is a big step up from a 10K. Sadly, fate wouldn’t allow him to complete the race.

After our original chat about the run at the beginning of the year I’d completely forgotten that he’d signed up for it. It wasn’t until his race number turned up in the post after losing him that I remembered that we’d spoken about it.

In a mad way he was really looking forward to the run, which is mental! He was really happy with his running and what he’d managed to achieve already.

Having got his race number in the post, all I wanted to do was go and do the race for him, making sure his number made it round the course. I know there are rules about not running with someone else’s number but who would have known?

I thought about it for a few days and talked with Shelli about it, finally coming to the conclusion that as it was a weekend we had the girls, logistically it would be a nightmare. I agreed. It would be. What to do? What to do?

The Plan

It was pretty obvious really: plot a half marathon route from home and run that instead, doing my own “Leeds Half Marathon” on the morning of the actual race. Perfect!

Decision made I fired up my trusty online route mapping tool – Walk Highlands, which gives free access to full UK 1:50 000 OS maps – and I started plotting out a route starting/ending at home. Knowing a lot of the local area, having walked it with Shelli and Snow, it wasn’t long before I had a reasonable route plotted out, downloaded (GPX file), and uploaded into another online tool I use a lot – Map MY Walk – so that I could see the elevation profile, to see how much of a challenge I’d set myself on top of just running a half marathon.

It wasn’t too bad, but heading down to the Thames Path obviously meant I’d be heading back up towards home in the final stages of the run. That could be a problem but I wasn’t too worried due to the way I approach running these days, and by that I mean that towards the end of last year I realised that chasing personal best times all the time was, well, stupid! I wasn’t getting any younger so why worry? Just covering the distance was the aim of a run, not the fact that I shaved another minute off my best time.

I’d started to use a 5 minute/1 minute run/walk split approach to my running, with the aim of covering longer distances instead of quicker shorter runs. I’d trialled this on a few runs last year, managing to easily cover 5 miles, 8 miles, and a 13 mile run without too much bother. So that was what I was going to do for this run too, using Runkeeper to keep track of the splits for me through my Trekz Titanium headphones. Perfect.

I got a 12K training run in the week before the actual run, which went really well, but other than that no other training except for my daily walking miles, the ones for my currently running yearly challenge: walk 200 miles a month. Having walked over 800 miles so far this year I was in pretty good shape so I wasn’t at all concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do it. Add to that the fact that I would be walking up all the hill sections (another long distance running tip) there was no way I wasn’t going to make it to the end!

Trial Run, Well, Walk

Having plotted out the route, and knowing it reasonably well in my head, I wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t take a wrong turn or get completely lost while I was doing the actual run. To do this I walked the route the weekend before, when we didn’t have the girls and Shelli was wading through the mountain of her coursework.

It was a ridiculously hot Saturday so I left Snow at home. She does even worse than me when it comes to walking in the blistering heat so it was safer to leave her to lounge in the garden while Shelli did her homework.

The walk went well, completing the distance in 3 hours and 13 minutes, walking at an average pace of 4.12 MPH which wasn’t shabby considering I took a load of photos as I made my way round the route.

Job done and I was feeling confident I knew where I’d be going on “race day”.

Race Day

It was going to be another hot day, just like the trial walk the previous week, so I was up early and eating a big bowl of porridge and golden syrup to give me a nice big energy boost for the run.

I wasn’t running at the time of the actual race in Leeds as I really didn’t relish the thought of being out in the really hot sun so I headed out the door at 8:14, at least an hour and half earlier than the real race.

Shelli was a bit concerned about me being out there, running that distance with pretty much zero training, so I set up Runkeeper to live track my progress. I think being able to fire up the app and check where I currently was helped to ease her worries.

She was also worried about me being out there on my own, but I said that I wouldn’t be…we both teared up when I said it!

I headed through the Oratory School and over the A4074, passing the Highwayman Inn (great food and beer there!) before heading up a quiet lane to Hook End. The start of the lane was my first uphill section and, as promised, I speed-walked up the hill before picking up the pace again down the hill to Hook End.

From there I picked up Park Lane, a lovely straight tree-lined lane all the way down to Cane End. Although it was still early the sun was most definitely out and the trees gave a lot of welcomed shade. I knew the section out to Mapledurham was almost completely open to the sun so getting a reasonable stretch in the shade was very nice indeed.

At Cane End, 3 miles in and 29 minutes gone, I was feeling pretty good with my pace and how things were going. I knew things were going to get a bit harder and slower in the later uphill stages but after the cool shade of the lane I wasn’t doing too bad.

Crossing back over the A4074, I made my way into the woods to Nuney Green and then on past Whittles Farm until I reached the top of the hill overlooking Mapledurham. It’s a view I’ve seen a few times now out on my walks, but it never ceases to blow me away when I see it. That said, I never look forward to the downhill section here as it drops a good 50 metres in not much time at all and it’s a bugger on the knees and quadriceps I can tell you!

The next section out and through Mapledurham was completely open to the sun, and boy was it shining now! I had my cap on and Shelli had plastered my face, ears and neck with sun cream so I wasn’t worried about burning, but the heat was just zapping my energy. Not good.

It didn’t help that the bridleway out of Mapledurham started to take me back uphill a bit. It wasn’t steep, just a long drawn out 20 metre or so climb up to Hardwick Road. Again, I walked this section, but even so, the heat was beginning to get to me a bit and I was now only 5 1/2 miles into the run!

Fortunately Hardwick Road took me downhill for the next mile and a half and there was a bit of cover from the trees on the side of the road.

I followed Hardwick Road all the way into Whitchurch-on-Thames, where I headed up the B471 to pick up Hartslock Bridleway, now following the Thames Path towards Goring, not that I’d be taking it that far.

I walked a good mile uphill through Whitchurch-on-Thames and along the Thames path, finally hitting a mile of downhill path to jog along. This was the last section of running for a while as it was all uphill for the next mile and a half. There were a couple of really tough hills in this section which make walking up them hard enough let alone running!

I did however stride past a young couple out for their morning run up the hill on Gatehampton Road. This hill is awful so getting it out of the way as quickly as possible was a good thing. Dragging that pain out would not have been a good thing I can tell you.

It wasn’t until I was almost back at the B471, heading along Cold Harbour, that the route levelled out and I could start to run again. I was only a couple of miles from the end of the run at this point but after a mile it was back to walking as I headed uphill along Eastfield Lane and onto Pot Kiln Lane.

From there I jogged to the end of Pot Kiln Lane and down Long Toll and Whitehouse Road to The Close, almost home, knackered, hot and well and truly ready for a break!

Jogging along Lackmore Gardens I spotted the house, and then it was done. I’d made it. I was home and my “Leeds Marathon” was over.

Shelli was out walking Snow when I got home – she didn’t expect me back so soon – and the girls were either watching TV or doing homework upstairs. Not exactly the welcome home everyone running the actual Leeds Marathon got that’s for sure.

I’d done it though and in not too bad a time considering the amount of walking I did up the hills. I managed to do the entire route (just over a half marathon) in 2 hours 26 minutes and 41 seconds, only 10 minutes slower than my first Bath Half Marathon time. I was pretty pleased with that I can tell you.

With the donations from Russ’ funeral and some extra donations for my run we topped the £1000 mark, which is just amazing! If you take the money raised during my LEJOG walk, the money raised after mum died, and now this, we’ve raised over £4000 for the British Heart Foundation, so thank you, everyone who has donated over the years!

Russ’ Race Number


Normally when I’m running a race I take my little point-and-click camera with me and snap away as I make my way round the course.

Having walked the course before to make sure I had it clearly in my head – I didn’t want to stress about not knowing where to go on the actual run – I’d taken photos along the route so I didn’t bother with photos on the actual day. These are the photos you can see below.

Route Details

If you’re interested you can download the KML file and/or GPX file of the plotted route. Please be aware though that the route was hand-plotted and so may not be 100% accurate.

Run Statistics

The table below shows the overall run statistics but, as mentioned above, I took a run-walk approach to my half marathon – running for 5 minutes and then walking for 1 minute.

Looking at the splits on Runkeeper, I averaged an 11:02 per mile running pace and a 12:31 per mile walking pace. Not a great difference between the two really?

Miles Start (HH:MM) Finish (HH:MM) Breaks (HH:MM) Running (HH:MM) Pace (MPH)
13.28 08:14 10:41 00:00 02:26 5.43

Route Map

Elevation Details

Start Elavation (m) End Elavation (m) Max Elevation (m) Min Elevation (m) Total Climb (m) Total Descent (m) Climbs on Route
171 171 186 42 341 -341 1

More information about climb ratings can be found at Map My Walk.