On an cold Sunday morning in early January I got up bright and early for my first race of this year. The Central Lancs Half Marathon organised by Fylde Coast Running and one of the earliest races in anybodys annual calendar. It being cold was no surprise but the event being a sell out was. The event is limited to 500 and was sold out before Christmas. The good news is you can already enter for next years race which is on Sunday 4 January 2015.

I entered this race sometime in 2013 with a plan of doing some long runs in a race setting to alleviate boredom. Fylde Coast Running is a relatively small set up in todays big money, big goody bag, race environment and in my view the better for it.

Entering any FCR event can be done online and is quick and easy. I don’t remember what I paid but next years event is £14.00. I received an e-mail confirmation immediately. I received an updating e-mail on 22 November with information about the venue and parking. The e-mail had a link to the Runners Information Documentwith all the usual details. I have put the links for the website and Facebook page are at the end and between the two you should have no difficulty in knowing what you’re supposed to be doing and when.

The 5th January 2014 arrived and I set off with my long suffering and non-running husband. The start is in Lea Town just outside Preston and close to BNFL. As it was a Sunday morning and still holiday time the trip there was easy and there was ample free parking. The race starts at 10am and registration is in St Marys Catholic School. As with other FCR events you collect your number there and the registration area is always busy but I have never waited long to pick up my number. The school had inside loos which were child sized but a step up from a manky portaloo. Husband was beside himself as he could buy a bacon butty and promptly ate it in front of me. I of course had feasted 2 hours beforehand on porridge and banana and gave the bacon a miss.

The course is flat through rural roads and villages and is pleasant and quiet. The start is a simple gathering close to the school and with the gun you’re all off. There is no chip for this race so if youre the speedy type get near to the front. The start was marred for me by a huge Garmin failure as the darn thing got stuck and never recovered. A lovely fellow runner did his best to help me but it was not meant to be and my love/hate relationship with Garmin is a post for another day. The runners had half the road blocked off for them and so there is some traffic but it was light and didnt really bother me. There are water stations at 4 ½and 9 miles and plenty of marshals around. As a middle of the pack runner I always knew where I was going and the mile markers were clear. The marshals can communicate with paramedics and EMTs who are apparently present and can be with you quickly should you be unlucky enough to need them. As the course is rural and it was freezing there is not much crowd support on the way round so if you enjoy high fiving” small children you will be disappointed, although your hands will be too cold to move them properly anyway.

The finish is in the school playground after a right turn past the local pub. By the time I got there said pub was open and tempting but as I turned the corner I spotted the clock and was shocked to see 1:46 and something or other. A sprint finish did not get me under 1:47 but I managed 1:47:02 and knocked 9 minutes and 1 second off my October PB so I was well chuffed. I was also in the presence of greatness as a chap called Ben Cope broke the world record for fastest man in an animal suit by 30 seconds! The finish was a simple affair with water, bananas, Wagon Wheels and a decent medal.

Getting out of the car park and off home was easy and as we left before the awards I cannot report on that. The results were up online later that day and the race photographer has a website where a download of your picture costs £3.00.

And so to the best bit of this race for me which was the incredible support from UK Runchat. I didnt look at my phone until the start when the Garmin issue had me scrambling for my Nike+ app and I was stunned by the number of encouraging messages. I am grateful to you all and it really gave me a boost. So here is to a year full of running, racing and ukrunchatting!

http://www.fyldecoastrunning.org

https://www.facebook.com/fyldecoastrunning?fref=ts

@ericaspellman