Thursday, 12 March 2015

New EHM Route Revealed!!!

Yesterday was very exciting, I got a preview of the new route from the lovely people who give us the English Half Marathon (EHM) each year. I was excited but also a little worried, the EHM is an important event to me.  It's Warrington's only half marathon and is pretty much cemented in the the calender of local runners.  Last year over 2,000 runners took part and it's well loved by serious racers and fun lovers alike.  I'm a gold runner so I'm signed up for life.

If anyone is doing the 10k, the route hasn't been announced yet but it will start and finish at the same place as the half marathon.

So here it is, the official new route and elevation chart.

    Official new English Half Marathon elevation chart
Official new English Half Marathon route
 So what's new?
  • The race will start and finish by actually running through the iconic gates
  • Runner's will get to run through the home of Warrington Wolves (Sorry Widnes fans) at mile 12
  • The town center is now a feature with The Guardians, the River of Life and the Cultural Quarter all present on the race route.
We do lose a little though:
  • Victoria Park track is no more (well it's still there, but just not a part of the route) :(
  • There's also no more Black Bear path which is also a little bit sad, I still use the distance markings on the path on my training runs
  • The Stretton Road loop is gone and that evil little hill on Green Lane along with it
I think many people will be a little sad at the move away from the track finish, it was certainly one of my favourite race moments from last year but when you look at what this does for the route I think it might ease the blow a little.  

I mapped the new route on Strava (making it private and deleteing it straight after getting screenshots, think I got a bit paranoid) so that we can see both the new and old route side by side.
Old EHM Route

New EHM Route
Let's start first with elevation.  So EHM pre-2015 is pretty much an uphill battle.  Love it or hate it, you're running uphill for the best part of the first 8 miles. When I first ran the route I remember screaming "Where's the blumming downhill" (maybe a little more colourfully) very loudly.  I think the new route is great for reducing the amount of time that we spend going uphill and i think it might even make it a faster course.

The chart below shows the new elevation in grey compared to the old route which is represented by the white line (it's not exact but it's as good as my poor graphic designer skills could manage).

Elevation comparison
The first key difference is that the race no longer starts with an uphill struggle.  Moving the start to the Golden Gates means that the first couple of miles are pretty flat until we get to Victoria Park.  Having walked this route many many a time, I think it will be a nice addition to the course and should hopefully give runners a bit of time to spread out before we get to the windier Stockton Lane and Church Lane bit of the course, which is now just before mile 3 instead of just after mile 1.

I'm not a fan of hills, especially when they go on forever and ever. The Warrington Road Runner's winter handicap race covers quite a bit of the same ground as the EHM route once it gets onto Stockton Lane but we come straight down Lumb Brook Road much like the new route does.  I've ran it quite a few times and it's a lot easier to get your ass up Broad Lane knowing that you're going to get a downhill to recover in few miles rather than having the added extra four miles of Stretton Road, with no relief and a few extra hills.   Hopefully, because you're not tiring yourself out with such a long ascent, it should make it a lot easier to use the downhill to pick up some speed.  Yes, you'll have to get your head around the idea that you still have another three miles to go when you're heading back over the bridge but as long as you remember where the new finish is I think it should still be a lot easier even with the bit of a hill heading out to the stadium before returning back to the gates.

So there you have it, the new route.  By now there's probably many asking why change it.
Bye bye track
Don't mess with a good thing right?  As I said at the beginning, the half marathon last year had just over 2,000 runners. Race Director, Rob Griffiths told me "we are on course for 6,000 this year - there's a demand for this race and we want a route that can handle it." Rob (who is also a great supplier of RnR medal gossip) is the Director of Contest Sports and Media Limited (which also brings us RnR Liverpool and RnR Dublin) is Warrington born and bred and I think his passion to highlight his hometown through the race is evident.  I've only lived here a few years but it's clear that the new additions of the gates, town hall, the town center and that rugby place (I had to google to find out what it was, am not a sports person) are important to Warrington and so should be showcased.  I bet there's quite a few people who are thrilled that they get to run through the stadium.  A bigger race may bring with it a bigger revenue for Warrington which can only be a good thing, especially with the news that a race event weekend with a Festival of Sports and Culture is in the works.  I think it's great that the new route can embody this idea of celebrating Warrington yet at the same time it's a route for runners created by runners and I think it will give that greater race experience that the organisers are after.

So, in summary, I think the new route will be good for runners and Warrington alike.  The new additions will be engaging and the elevation profile will make the race more interesting but I'm glad the the majority of the race is untouched.  I'm looking forward to giving it a test run to see if my suspicions about it being a faster course are correct.  I will miss the track finish (I may have to do a pretend EHM finish lap at track training ever so often) but I think I'll forget all about it when I'm doing my final sprint through the gates towards the beautiful town hall building. I'm kind of wishing I was doing the half this year now (am doing the 10k because have Berlin Marathon the week after) because I think it will be a great race. 

Entries for the half (as well as the 10k and Mile race) are still open and you can find more about how to enter at Prices increase on the 30th April and you can currently save extra by entering Birchwood 10k at the same time.

No comments:

Post a Comment