The Bath two tunnels races are run by Relish Running, whose races I have been enjoying throughout the summer (The Cheddar Gorge half and Bath hilly half marathon being two of them), so I knew this would be a fun event.
The race starts in the Oldfield Park area of Bath, and park-and-ride transport from the Odd Down park and ride was put on especially early on a Sunday morning for the benefit of runners getting to the event.
As usual, the event was well-organised and registration was simple. There were also plenty of portaloos in the registration area (very important!).
The novelty with this event is that the 5k and 10k races are run on tarmaced surfaces out and back through two former railway tunnels, to Midford and back into Bath. Pretty much half of my 10k race was run in a tunnel!
The half and full marathon (two loops of the half) comprised a loop through the tunnels towards Midford and then back via the canal path and Bath centre, which sounded like a nice course and perhaps something I will do next year.
The race start times seemed unnecessarily complicated, however I do understand why this was done, and actually it was not much of a problem. Essentially, 10k runners were split into four groups, ‘fast’ men, ‘fast’ women, ‘slower’ men and ‘slower’ women. This meant that myself, my husband and our friends were all spread out into different groups, but actually when we turned up to register, we were informed we could run together in certain waves, if we wanted to.
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What this did mean was that it must have been pretty complicated for the organisers to track everyone’s times, given that Relish do not offer chip timing – and one of our friends did not even end up with a time! I should note that we didn’t point this out to the organisers, as she wasn’t that bothered, but I couldn’t help but think that if these events could improve in just one way, it would be to have chip timing and more accurate results.
I haven’t been training on roads or for speed throughout the summer, so I had no expectation that I would run this race anywhere near PB level, and, actually, I was perfectly happy with this as it meant I could just run as fast as I could without getting too stressed out about trying for a specific time. It was also nice to run a relatively flat 10k after having done most recent races off-road and involving as much vertical ascent as possible (HELLO Cheddar, Bath Very Long Half… and Chamonix!).
I started off running at a comfortable pace with a friend, and, while we split up after about 2k, I then managed to keep a steady pace throughout the rest of the race – and avoided my ‘usual’ pattern of having to slow down when 3/4 of the way through. In fact, I ended up speeding up in the last few km and overtook a lot of other runners I had started with. This left me feeling pretty strong by the end, although the final 200m did get to me as it involved going up a cheeky sharp hill and I couldn’t help but push to overtake the people ahead of me 🙂 This meant that I was sick after crossing the line (nice!) but at least I knew I had really pushed myself.
There were quite a few people running with headphones. While some races ban them, they were not banned from this event and I think they should have been. The run was through tunnels still open to the public to walk or cycle on, and when running through relatively dark tunnels, it is probably a good idea to make use of all of your senses to avoid a collision. While I didn’t see any near misses, two people did, on separate occasions, overtake me and then proceeded to run about a foot in front of me, at just slower than my pace – pretty annoying. They were both wearing headphones… coincidence? Anyway it was helpful to me as it incentivised me to speed up and get away from them 🙂
As usual, Relish’s goody bag included a fabulous custom medal which fits with the other Relish running medals I have collected this year.
The atmosphere was friendly, with people turning out along the route to cheer us on, and also people volunteering to take photos, which you can download for free from Relish’s Facebook page. Unfortunately there was only one of me this time, but at least it was from near the start when I am looking relatively fresh!