Way back in February, before I had even ran 5k, having only started running in January, I got an email from the Vegan Society to say they had places available for people who wanted to run the Great Birmingham Run, a half marathon, and raise money for the Society’s 70th anniversary.
I read it and thought well I would like to do something this year to celebrate my 20th ‘veganniversary’, but could I really go from not running at all to running 13.1 miles in 10 months? And after pondering for a while I thought well I’ll never know if I don’t say yes. So I said yes and pledged not only to run but to raise £200 in sponsorship.
Fast forward to last Sunday and I’m pleased to say not only did I run the 13.1 miles, without having to walk a single mile, I also raised over £300 for the Vegan Society.
So, what did I think of the run itself? Well, as you’d expect of something that is part of a series of well known races they were very well organised. The only problem I had was finding the start line! They definitely needed more signage for people unfamiliar with the streets of Birmingham.
Everything else, however, was excellent. The route was on closed roads through the city centre, up to Bourneville, and back again. It’s quite a hilly course, especially the last few miles which is a steady uphill followed by a short downhill section. I’ve never been to Birmingham so I quite liked running through the different areas and residential streets.
The crowd were fantastic throughout the run. The first mile or so after the immediate start was a quieter, light industry area with lots of warehouses, but there was one pub in the area that was open and blasting out ‘Keep on Running’ whilst the landlord encouraged runners to pop in to use the facilities. And really it carried on like that. There were official bands, unofficial bands, people outside churches and community halls handing out sweets, nuns outside convents cheering us on and small children asking for high fives. It was quite fun and very encouraging.
It was my first time running a race in my new Vegan Runners vest and it was great hearing people shout ‘go vegan!’. There was one woman spectator who got very excited when she saw my vest which made me think she was vegan and I got asked what being a vegan runner meant by a fellow runner.
All in all I enjoyed the race, it was hard going towards the end but I managed to complete the course without stopping to walk and I was very pleased to finish in 2:12:28. I would recommend the race to anyone for their first half marathon as long as you make sure you practice for hills. If you have only ever run on the flat this is not the race for you!
Doing a half marathon for the first time is an achievement in itself but I’m also really glad that I ran my first half marathon for the Vegan Society. Now I have to work out where my second half will be!