The Island Race Review

‘ogee ogee ogee’ The race announcer shouted down the mic. The day had already turned out to be positive as I stood limbering up basking in the spring sun. The day was turning out to be nice. The right temperature and just the right amount of breeze. I knew this race was going to be good as I was in Wales standing on the other side of the Menai Bridge which I would soon be running over and shortly after will be taking in the views of the Victorian pier of Bangor, the impressive Norman Castle built by Edward and the stunning mountains of Snowdonia. Every run in Wales is always good. Some thing to tell the grandkids about. The weather also does not disappoint.

“Ogee Ogee Ogee” the announcer repeated after the crowd of 800 chanted back “Oi, Oi, Oi” and soon the countdown began. ‘Fifty seconds, forty Nine, forty eight’ As he counted he interspersed with messages of good luck, and look out for one another. I knew from that moment that this will be a good race and then the gun went and we all clapped before realising that this was a race and we darted across to cross the line.

The race had begun. Forget Marathon pace I was on one and as I looked down to see me moving a slow pace as the bottle neck plodded over the iconic road bridge I un-clipped my headphones and politely asked the more pedestrian runners to ‘Move’. Now I should have taken this as a sign. Last year on my Half marathon before the full 26.2 mile event I made the same mistake and shot out from the start line like a bullet and this year I promised myself i would do marathon pace, test when I needed to pop a gel and all that stuff the mags tell you but then the little devil woke and whispered ‘You could do this in a sub 1:35’ That was all it took.

The minute I had left the bridge I was running like never before. The tunes pumping which I was glad off as crowd support was thin on the ground. But who needed the people cheering you on when you had views of Bangor across the water, a 800 year old castle, a course which was car free and while not flat was not excessively hilly for Wales but still gave your lungs and heart a good work out on the uphill sections without really loosing that much pace.

The course was an out and back with the added bonus that while you ran away from the mountains of Snowdonia, the return trip would have them in full panoramic Technicolor laid in front of you. This was a race for seasonal runners as the amount of people I passed on the return loop still plodding to the half way point were few and far the majority crossed the line before the 2 hour mark. Off course not that it is not a beginner friendly course. The start and the end had a very warm ‘were doing this together’ mentally.

I loved this race. At the end there was your slate engraved medal, cups of water, fruit, chocolate, biscuits and then outside the finishers enclosure an array of burger fans and ice cream sellers along with activities for the family and friends who cam to support. The Marshals were friendly and efficient, the course information and pre race details spot on. A map of the area for those who were not familiar with Anglesey would have been a bonus. Car parking was free and there was plenty off it if you got there in time. The only down side was the goody bag that contained a poncho and leaflets from the Welsh Tourist board and some energy/protein powder thing.

All in all, this was a good race. It’s in its second year and I can see it growing bigger and while the course could handle it, the start line may have to be moved away from the iconic bridge but it has plenty more gems to make up for that loss. the other flaw is like all races on this scale is you can’t control who goes to the front and those who have a slow pace or can’t keep the fast pace up seem to be at the start causing a lot of pushing and shoving from the faster more competitive runners behind them. The course for the first mile is also on narrow streets which also adds to this very small issue that did not spoil the event.

Oh and I got my new PB. A sub 1:35 by 8 seconds.

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