I suffered at the world half marathon championships held in Cardiff earlier in the year. I’d put in the training but failed to shake off a heavy cold by race day, besides which the weather was foul.
The inaugural Port Talbot half marathon offered a chance to bury that memory. A small, local event with an entry limit of 200 people, staged on grit and tarmac cycle tracks in the beautiful forest of Afan.
After a technical opening section though width restrictions and around a fishing lake, we were on a firm gravel track heading gently downhill, and that’s pretty much how it continued for the next 6 miles. The weather was cool, with a light breeze, the sun occasionally threatening to break through.
I found myself shoulder to shoulder with Gareth Poston. We worked together.
“We’re not catching them,” I said, meaning the group of 4 about 200m ahead.
“Wait for the uphill,” he said.
I felt dehydrated and made sure I got some water in at the feed station at the turning point. Gareth pulled a lead on me, maybe as much as 20m, but I wasn’t going to lose him. The track was heading uphill now. The next groups of runners were entering the feedzone. Time to dig in.
I caught up with Gareth and again we worked together. A runner in a red vest, dropped from the fractured group of 4, was in sight. We went past him. Just a couple of miles from the finish we caught and passed another runner. Now I was hurting. Gareth pulled ahead. This time I let him go. I could see he was fading but I was too.
I finished in 6th place with a time of 1:22:33, which I was pleased with on a sloping course.