Heart Op to Half Marathon in 51 days
Belvoir Half Marathon

Belvoir Half The Vale of Belvoir (pronounced beaver) gets it's name from Belvoir Castle (pronounced 'beaver castle') which over looks the vale from the ridge at its southern end. It is from the ridge that we get the 'belle voir' of the name, French for 'beautiful view'. We must assume that the vale was named by some French bloke who built the castle on land awarded to him as a heart felt 'thank you' from a grateful William the Conker for spending the battle of Hastings minding the soon to be royal jock strap while William the Bastard busied himself denying the cream of Anglo Saxon nobility access to their rightful inheritance.

The pronunciation is likely to come from disgruntled surfs taking the Anglo Saxon urine out of their new French speaking betters, rather than as a reference to dam building mammals that haven't graced the vale for at least the 130,000 years since a river ran through it or some cheeky Americanism for lady parts.

The Belvoir Half (pronounced 'beaver half') marks the beginning of the half marathon season in the this neck of the woods and at first glance offers the opportunity for a nice sojourn around some pleasant sleepy little villages in the heart of Stilton country. It was a little worrying then, as I lined up very much at the back, to notice that there was a large proportion of club runners in the field.

'A large proportion' is a relative term. The 'large proportion' of club runners was relative to the rather low number of none club runners. By none club runners I mean tourists out for a gentle sojourn around some pleasant sleepy little villages in the heart of Stilton country. My first glance had failed to take in the true nature of this particular race around this sleepy corner of north Leicestshire.

It was clear from the off that most of the field were out for a PB and judging by the way that the field strung itself out over the first 1/4 of a mile, those PBs were going to be at least an hour quicker than mine. Oh to be a young sinewy athlete pushing the fine margins between glory and despair in your sport down country lanes in the spring sunshine.

Belvoir Half For those of us at the back of the field it was going to be a long lonely morning, I pondered as we left the sleepy village of Hose (pronounce 'hose') and made our way off into the countryside passed a curious herd of Frisians staring at the curious herd of humans racing off into the distance.

There is little that is uplifting for a jogger, as he or she watches a couple of hundred club runners race off ahead leaving him or her on his or her lonesome, apart from a couple of other stragglers who also mistook the Belvoir Half for a bit of a tourist jog rather than the tapering run for the more serious entrants to the London Marathon, wanting to put in a bit of speed work, that it really is.

Heart Op to Half Marathon in 51 days
Guy will be running the Belvoir Half Marathon just 51 days after a heart operation to raise funds for Hothouse Theatre's Oh My Nottz project.
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We reached the turn off for the first village, Harby (pronounced 'harby') at mile three. Time to brace oneself for the adulation of the villages for whom the race probably marks the high point of the tourist season in this sleepy neck of the woods.

The course skirted through what passes for the suburbs of the village. There was no one, except a young girl left to look after the drinks station for the stragglers as dad started clearing up the chaos of plastic cups left by the whirlwind of racing youth on their way towards sporting glory.

I was greeted with a slightly surprised look from the young girl that was difficult to interpret but reminded me that there was still another 10 miles to go and it was going to take me a long time.

The only part of the next village, Langar, (pronounced langar) I got to see was the Unicorn pub. It looked nice but was shut.

Belvoir Half The only support was a young lad, dutifully waiting with a tub of Haribos to give the runners a bit of a sugar rush. He had the look of someone who had been waiting for a long time with the words of his father still ringing in his ear, "You can't just offer them to the proper runners. You will have to wait until the last runner in the orange top, with a beer belly, just about maintaining a decent walking pace has gone passed."

I dutifully took a Haribo. A heart shaped one. It seemed appropriate.

And that was the first 5 miles done and dusted.

Round Sheffield Run
Raising funds to Support Hothouse Theatre's work with Keeping it Wild youth group.
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The second 5 miles?

It was becoming increasing clear that the esteemed race planners of yesteryear, who designed the course, had a thing about pretty sleepy Leicestshire villages. That 'thing' seems to have revolved around keeping runners well away from them.

Belvoir Half It was fine in their minds to get you close enough to be able to count down the distance to said village as you passed the quaintly old fashioned sign posts. To even pass the sign announcing that you had entered the village in question and that they welcomed careful drivers. But that was as close as you were going to get.

Just at the moment of anticipation as you expected to be directed down the old High Street, passed the quaint farm workers cottages which had been thrown up by the C18th ancestor of Monsieur Le Strap d' Jock, at little expense, which were now a crumbling part of the commuter belt, changing hands at prices that would make any self respecting Keeper of the Royal Underwear blush, there would be a marshal in a luminous jacket, next to a large luminous sign with a large black arrow pointing down another lonely tarmaced road and away from the heart of the village back into the grinding monotony of the lush rambling countryside and the endless, straight, neat enclosure act hedges stretching off into the distance under the by now irritating, draining, unseasonably strong, spring sunshine.

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Belvoir Half At 10 miles I passed the Colston Bassett Creamery. Perhaps the only place of interest on the whole course. It was shut.

The final 3 miles were awful. I just wanted to give up.

With 2 and half miles to go I got my first "You are nearly there."

It was at 2 and a half miles to go that I just stopped myself from saying my first 'F off''

Then things suddenly got exciting. They say that the first 11 miles of a half marathon just get you to the race. It is the last 2 miles when the race really begins.

It has to be said at this point, 2 and a 1/4 hours into the 'race' that there weren't too many people left on the course to race with and those left probably didn't regard themselves as being in any sort of race anymore, other than the very personal kind of race that involves finishing in a sort of still alive condition.

Those are the best kind of people to race against. They usually don't put up much in the way of opposition.

Up ahead there was a small group. I had been slowly gaining on them for the last ... time becomes of sort distorted when you are running at the very edge of your physical ability ... it had probably only been half a mile but it felt like three weeks. They were still little more than specks in the distance. Like mirages of belly dancing, veiled beauties from one of those 1950's ever so un PC Bob Hope movies that they don't show on mainstream T. V. anymore for fear of getting too many complaints or people just switching over to a reality TV show based around watching paint dry.

There was no real hope of catching them ... until at the last drinks station ... a mile and a half from the end ... they stopped and sat down for a chat! This was my chance. I moved up a gear. It hurt. I moved down a gear. By the time I reached the drinks station they had finished their rest and were off again. But I was in amongst them and my racing head was back on.

Slowly I inched passed them. And I do mean slowly and I do mean inched. Then on the last down hill I pulled away and on towards a very sad kind of victory.

All that remained was the long run in. I could see the finish line for the last third of a mile and all I wanted to do was stop. So I concentrated on the first post run pint at the celebratory barbeque. Then the first glass of wine and then the second and then the third and ... one of the group I had overtaken had broken away and sailed passed me, full of beans, on the final uphill bit. I thought of racing her home. I thought of it. But there was nothing left in the tank besides the thought.

I accepted defeat and returned to my quantum of solace that was thinking about the after run drinks all lined up, each one with my name on it.

I crawled over the line completely done in.

I had come in 477th out of 484.

The last male home in a time of 2 hours 43 minutes and 57 seconds.

A full 3 seconds faster than the Plymouth Half last year.

I had run a PB!

Belvoir Half I smiled a self satisfied smile that had not been seen in these parts since a royal jock strap polisher first took in the view from his new family seat and pondered his good fortune.

Such is are the fine margins between glory and despair in sport.

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Oh My Nottz is a HotHouse Theatre production. Co. No. 6505843 Charity No. 1154523. Tel 07963020259 email guy@hothousetheatre.com website www.hothousetheatre.com