After an extended sabbatical, Coventry welcomed half marathon runners to the city with a new course, new date and new title, widely ignored incidentally, thanks to innovative use of the possessive apostrophe (which, somewhat bizarrely, formed the inspiration for the event website and race finishers’ medal). Hoping to capitalise on entrants preparing for a spring marathon with the new date, having previously been an early autumn race (and once held in May) Coventry’s half marathon controversially took place on Sunday March 23rd 2014, the same day as the popular BHF Warwick Half Marathon and the less popular, but equally local, Stanford Hall Half Marathon.
Just over 2000 runners tackled a new course, which, after a small loop of the city centre, headed in a generally uphill direction for the opening eight miles as runners headed out northwest towards Corley, before enjoying a long gradual descent back to the finish outside the Transport Museum. Avoiding the wintry showers, conditions were cool and windy, with the biting wind into the runners’ faces for the much of the opening half of the race, especially on the exposed greenbelt section as runners left Allesley. Despite the early (9am) start, crowd support was enthusiastic on a course that is surprisingly rural, and the race was well marshalled, with runners enjoying the benefit of fully closed roads for the entire duration of the race
First of nine Kenilworth Runners home on a highly successful day for the club was Connor Carson. Playing down his expectations shortly before the start, Connor ran a superb race to finish ninth in a chip time of 1:15:06. This bettered his PB by one second, set at the Kenilworth Half Marathon in 2011. The only disappointment for Connor was that he was agonisingly close to breaking 75 minutes. Next home was Matthew Kingston-Lee, who has been in heavy marathon training, and suffered slightly as a result of this and also a troublesome injury affecting his left leg. Nevertheless Matthew ran well to finish fourteenth in 1:17:32.
Richard Broadbent had hoped to run around 1:31 at Coventry, so was surprised and delighted to run an impressively even paced run which saw him finish 44th overall and third in his age category, clocking 1:24:42. Following Richard was Wayne Briggs, who was making his race debut in the green vest of Kenilworth Runners. Enjoying the shouts of come on Kenilworth! en route, Wayne knocked a massive 4:52 off his previous PB with new figures of 1:26:07. Another recent Kenilworth recruit, Stewart Underhill was delighted to take 90 seconds off his previous PB, clocking 1:32:03.
The first of three Kenilworth ladies to finish, Claire Goult revelled in being told the race was downhill after eight miles – laudably ignoring the incline for the opening stages of the race. Despite cursing a cheeky climb in the race’s final mile, Claire ran fantastically to shatter her old PB over four minutes, clocking 1:36:59. This earned her a fifth place finish in her age category.
Following Gwyn Davies (1:41:26), who was pleased to finish the race in one piece, there was yet another PB for Kenilworth Runners as Stephen Payne ran excellently to clock 1:42:28.
It was a memorable day for two more new club members who both made their half marathon debuts, Angela Dowden ran well to finish in 2:15:20 and Joeann Niblett ran 2:26:54, having only started running with Kenilworth’s Wednesday morning group a year ago.
The race, supported by Decathlon and featuring Stroke Association and Zoe’s Place as its nominated charities, was won by Notts AC / Nene Valley Harriers’ Aaron Scott, who complimented his training towards a hopeful sub 2:20 spring marathon with a 1:08:50 clocking. The winning lady was fellow Nene Valley Harrier Philippa Taylor, who finished in 1:21:53 and cemented her reputation as one of the fastest V45 runners in the country.