As part of my training for the London Marathon 2014, I entered the Bideford Half Marathon. I only took up running 9 months ago and due to some great support from friends and family, and a really top club in South Molton Strugglers, I have been bitten by the bug!

I had been injured for a few weeks but was really looking forward to the race. The reputation of the Bideford is a good one and as it took in part of thr Tarka Trail I was very excited about it.

We arrived very early and parking was straight forward. Numbers had been sent out to runners so it was just a case of picking up your timing chip and warming up. The rain came in for a little while but it soon disappeared. There was a good turn out at the race, 1200 people I believe. The atmosphere was brilliant. Really happy and helpful people everywhere.

A marshall asked us all to move to the start and the crowd did – we were ready to go. I was aiming for a PB (2hrs or less).

We left the start and did a quick circle of a block of houses which allowed the field to spread out a little. We then followed the river in land toward Torrington. The road was closed so there was no traffic. The marshalls were superb, cheering us on and offering lots of support. The road is undulating and I knew that the Puffing Billy pub was the halfway point. I had been told that from there back was a flat route. My aim was to ‘take it easy’ until then and then go for a negative split. There was one water stop on the way out along the road and another at the Puffing Billy. When I arrived here I relaised I had ran my second fastest 10k! So much for taking it easy then!

A quick drink and a few jelly babies and the runners follow the Tarka Trail back to Bideford. It is a little narrow and if busy it is difficult to overtake. We had to be mindful of the non-racers too. There were plenty of supporters along the route back too. It was relatively flat and we passed through some lovely scenary.  We have a slight incline through a very dark tunnel which lots of runners took the opportunity to sing and make the ususal silly nosies one does in a dark echoy tunnel!

The last mile, in my opinion, is the best. You pass some vintage train carriages which are now cafes. You run a little on the road and then cross the river via the old bridge. With 800m to go the crowd begins to swell again and you are running on the promenade.

The finish becomes narrow as you cross the very professional finish line. It was a great race which I would recommend and I will definitely do again next year.

I did not quite manage a PB, running a time of 2hrs 2 mins. Lets see if I can beat that next time!

Richard Uffendell