It got grim pretty early, the pre-race toilets being a public block in the car park where I got to enjoy a shit-covered toilet stall surrounded by discarded needles. Which was nice.
I met and chatted with a few of the usual mob (including Beth who was there for marathon number 99, and Maria and Bev who I hadn't seen since HOAH) and then trundled down to the start. The half marathon was starting an hour and a half later and there weren't that many of us standing in the town centre in the drizzle for the start of the full marathon.
Then, after being told we had to hold our coats/tops open if they were covering our numbers otherwise the chip mats wouldn't read them (really?!) we were off.
I was aiming for about 3:30, quick enough to be a decent workout and get me home in time for the Liverpool game, but slow enough to not do any major damage, and quickly found myself on my own with the speedsters in front of me, and the sub4 mob behind.
I don't really know what to say about the route. I mean, it was fucking awful. Dreary semi-rural lanes became dreary industrial estate, which became dreary housing estates, and then we were done. But then I guess that's Wrexham, so I can't really complain. As the Fawlty Towers episode goes, what was I expecting, herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? To be fair, the weather didn't help, it was raining pretty much the whole time, and that probably contributed slightly to there being about six people out supporting in the first 20 miles.
The only human contact in the first half was from the functional but sad looking marshals (couldn't blame them for that), and a couple of switchbacks where you got to pass the runners in front and then behind as you doubled back.
At about halfway as I was coming out of an industrial estate, a guy caught me up and we fell into the same pace. His name was Michael and we ended up running and chatting together for the rest of the race. We sort of pulled each other along from there. I'm pretty sure the dreariness of the course and the weather would have seen me slow towards the end if I'd been on my own, but he was aiming to get near to 3:30, having set a target of sub3:30 for Manchester in a few weeks so we just kept on at about that pace. We worked our way though the back markers of the half marathon which was a nice distraction, and despite a wrong turn in a marshall-less park and a slightly hilly finish we made our way back into the town centre, crossing the line together in 3:29:01
I picked up my medal (which was nice), and headed back to the car for the mercifully short drive home. As far as positives go, I hit my target time without too much bother and I felt like I'd finally shaken off the virus that made the Railway Ultra so tough which was a big win. Chatting with Michael was cool, and I'll have another friendly face at the Gin Pit double as he's doing that too.
I doubt I'll go back and do it again unless they drastically change the course – although I've no idea if there's anything more interesting to see near Wrexham than what we saw. Given that they pretty much shut the town centre down for the duration of the event, they could easily have had everyone doing laps through the town which might have given it a bit more atmosphere and support.