Sandbach Striders

I hadn’t meant to enter, and it wasn’t initially part of the plan for the holiday. We had booked to go away with Carol’s family to celebrate her brother’s tenth wedding anniversary, get some winter sun and enjoy the all inclusive. Then, about a week before the flight, I looked online to see what there was to do when we were away and came across the Cyprus Marathon.

The race, in its 19th running, is a four distance event with a marathon, half marathon, 10k and 5k fun run. The marathon and 10k had sold out, but there were spaces on the half and I got permission to enter (I had planned to take my kit and go for a run on the Sunday, but now there was a better incentive!).

The online booking was simple and there was no number to send out as it worked on a collection system in the two days prior to the race. We landed on Friday, got settled and strolled into Paphos Saturday morning where I collected my pack from race HQ. Included in the bag were a technical t-shirt, energy gel, instructions and free bus vouchers for the whole weekend. The harbour area was where the race would start and there was a collection of runners with different club tops from across Europe and a steady stream of entrants and families enjoying the sun. far my favourite and not just because of the location and weather...

Race day arrived and I took advantage of the free bus travel to get from my hotel to the harbour start. I was not alone in doing so and it turned out to be a sensible idea as the temperature crept up to 20 degrees under clear blue skies. The weather was far warmer than I had enjoyed back in the UK and seemed so much better than the conditions endured by Striders also in action that day! As it was, I had mentally prepared a race plan based on my current pace and the temperature. 0825 came with the usual count down and the half marathon was off. The marathon runners had met earlier and were bussed to a different start point; when I started, they had already been underway for a while.

The route was an out and back road course which was pretty flat with the exception of a slight incline between miles seven and eight. There were a number of switch-backs on the outward leg and the return was mainly downhill. Regular drinks stations crewed by volunteers from the Paphos Running Club provided water, gels, electrolytes and sponges. Marshals lined the route and the police looked after the traffic. The scenery was a mix of harbour, coastal hotels and fruit laden orange groves with views of the inland mountain region. On the way out and back I passed my hotel and was met with the most enthusiastic cheering squad of family, friends, guests and staff who encouraged everyone on. I stuck to my plan and despite the heat came in slightly ahead of my target time. Job done! Even better was that Carol met me at the finish area where runners were given a great medal and could recover in the shade with water, fresh orange segments and bananas as a band played.

This was only my third half marathon, but by far my favourite and not just because of the location and weather. It was a well organised event with a relaxed feel to it and a great atmosphere. The mix of distances and the course meant that as I was plodding along I got to see the leaders for the marathon, half and the top three 10k who were all seriously fast and very impressive! Overall I would really recommend this race if you’re ever in the vicinity!

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Position 325 of 513. Chip time 2:07:03 (winner came in at 1:12:21)