Where Plymouth, Devon
When May 25, 2008
First Man Jean Ndasenga 1:06:02
First Woman Caroline Cheptanui 1:17:08
Last Finisher 5:24
No. of Finishers 3,421
The fantastic atmosphere typical of the Plymouth Half-Marathon is one of the reasons so many competitors return time and time again. This year was no exception, with the race attracting almost 3,500 participants.
Faultlessly organised, the event attracted a field of top-class local, national and international athletes through to club runners, first-timers and fancy-dress fundraisers of all ages, as well as tens of thousands of enthusiastic supporters providing a real community spirit.
Both the start and finish were on the vast expanse of the Hoe, alongside one of Plymouth’s best-known landmarks, Smeaton's Tower, with its dramatic backdrop of yachts, speedboats and even naval vessels further out to sea.
The superb location, along with the organisers' attention to detail, allowed for a well-executed start despite the large numbers taking part. As the siren sounded, the elite runners began to wind their way down the promenade, along the seafront and through the city’s streets.
For the slower runners waiting further back in the pack, it took up to 10 minutes to cross the start line, but the use of chip timersensured that the 'queuing period' was deducted at the end, giving every runner an accurate finishing time.
The route was relatively flat for the first four miles before it turned off into the luscious setting of Saltram Park. Here began a mile-and-a-half-long steady climb up a winding tree-lined slope. A second, shorter but steeper hill at mile seven took runners out of the park, back through city streets and heading for home.
At mile 12, through the cobbled streets of the historic and quaint Barbican, racers knew the end was just around the corner. But so was
a cruel hill that took them back up to the Hoe and required a last surge of energy to crack it.
Thousands of spectators braved the threat of rain to line the entire route, sometimes four people deep, dishing out jelly babies, as well as welcome cheers and claps of encouragement. Race marshals, police and the hundreds of volunteers who stepped in on the day to man the four water and two sponge stations provided extra enthusiastic support.
It was a slower-than-expected race for many due to the cool and windy conditions, but of the 3,438 that actually made it to the start line, only 17 failed to finish.
Crossing the finish line, each athlete collected their medal and goody bag crammed with energy bars, snacks, dried fruit, juices, chocolate and a mini deodorant. Passing through the athletes’ tent, there was a further array of fruit, pasties, biscuits and hot and cold drinks for immediate refuelling, and for those really feeling the mileage, the offer of a massage.