It felt like the first day of summer for the Royal Windsor Trail Half Marathon. I had driven up early on Sunday morning from the south coast to the pretty town of Windsor, on the banks of the Thames and famous of course for Windsor Castle.
It really was a gorgeous morning and I was very pleased to have brought my camera along to film the run. I decided I would not be racing and would concentrate on interviewing lots of people and enjoying a run in the sunshine. The location was perfect. Lots of greenery, blue skies, the river, the castle as a backdrop and lots of folk smiling and ready to run.
The finish line and admin tents were on one side of the river in Alexandra Park and the start was a short walk over Thames Street bridge to The Brocas on the other side of river. I had arrived nice and early so there was plenty of time to chat to a few runners and to film swans on the river and some gorgeous meadow flowers. I do like a nice bit of nature!
Windsor Trail Half Marathon
We set off in waves a few seconds apart and the reason for this became very apparent in the first few hundred metres. From the wide open start in the field we then joined the towpath which almost immediately narrowed such that it was very difficult to pass anyone and we came to a near standstill on a few occasions with the sheer weight of numbers.
It took a good two or three kilometres for the congestion to thin out, but this did give me a chance to interview to a few more runners and to enjoy the views of the river. There are some stunning properties on the other side, and seeing the rowers training added to the atmosphere. When the crowds really thinned out at one point all I could hear were birds in the trees and the oars of the rowers in the water. We passed Eton Dorney lake on the right.
One minor complaint I have about the Royal Windsor Trail Half Marathon is how far away the first water station was. On such a hot day I think many of us could have done with a water stop a little earlier in the race. When it did arrive it was manned by one young man who looked a little out of his depth. I worried for the masses who were about to descend on him in the next few minutes!
I was feeling pretty good despite the heat and started to push on a little approaching half way. I wasn’t intent on racing but looking at my Strava stats my fastest kilometre was 11 which I did in just over 4 minutes. Kilometre 17 was my next fastest at 4:15. So during the middle of the race I certainly wasn’t lounging about.
On we went up the towpath with the Thames on our left and Dorney Reach on the right, for another couple of kilometres before turning right just past the Maidenhead Viaduct and heading back down the Jubilee River, which was constructed in the 1990s to alleviate flooding from the Thames in Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton. This was the hottest part of the run. In the first half of the race we had been protected from the sun by a treelined towpath. Now we were completely exposed and it was really warm.
The second half of the Windsor Trail Half Marathon was probably not quite as picturesque as the first, but that’s not to say it was unpleasant. It was still a very beautiful run. At Eton College Golf Course, we turned right and followed the railway line back to Windsor. I had tired a little by now and was glad of the final water stop 2k from home.
Flat, Fast Course
As well as the Royal Windsor Trail Half Marathon there was a 10k and a 6k race. Approaching the finish I passed one or two tail enders of those races. It was good to see lots of support in the park as I ran up the finishing straight and I crossed the line in 1 hour 41 minutes. Slow for me on a flat course but pretty fast considering the number of interviews I did en route and the amount of time I stopped at the second and third water stations and to film various scenery!
I collected my medal, which is a very nice one indeed, and hung around for quite some time afterwards chatting to people and cheering runners in, before making my way to Starbucks opposite Windsor Castle for a well earned latte and Creme Caramel. If you have enjoyed reading this race report and watching the video of the Windsor Trail Half Marathon, please do share it with your friends and give it a Facebook ‘like’ or Google +1.