Joe, a self-confessed “endurance junkie”, first ran the Mercer Surrey Half as a Xempo pacer in 2015 – which he (in his own words) “found to be heaps of fun and incredibly rewarding.” Joe was quick to accept his place on the Xempo Pacing Team again in 2017: “When the opportunity arose to [pace] again [at the Mercer Surrey Half Marathon], it was an easy decision to make.” On 11 March 2018, Joe will return to the Mercer Surrey Half to run at his own pace – which we understand could be sub 1:30!
Joe takes part in a number of running events each year, and documents his experience on his blog. Following his first Mercer Surrey Half Marathon experience in 2015, he wrote: “The route around the surrounding villages of Woking is a really nice one. There were a few minor hills, but certainly nothing to write home about. Considering we were out in the countryside for a fair portion of the run, there were tons of people out supporting on the road”. He then went on to describe what it was like to pace the race: “I just enjoyed being out there having a chat with some of the other runners around me. It was a completely different experience, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.”
The March race dates in 2014, 15 and 16 offered beautiful spring weather for runners, but 2017 saw the heavens open shortly after the start of the race. However, as Joe mentions in his blog post, the rain certainly did not dampen the spirits of all those involved in the event: “Despite the weather, there were loads of spectators out cheering, offering jelly babies and just generally enjoying the event.”
Joe considers the “best bit of pacing” at the Mercer Surrey Half Marathon to be: “the part after the race where you get to chat to those that have achieved their goals. I must have had at least 20 very happy people coming up to me, shaking my hand and thanking me for my help – it was brilliant. Everyone was incredibly grateful and thrilled with what they’d achieved – I was quick to tell them it was their legs that did all the work – I just came along for the ride!”
Joe ran at a sub 1:30 pace in 2017 – 20 minutes quicker than the 1:50 pace he ran at the 2015 race. He explains in his blog that the flat course profile means that it’s “possible to run at an even pace throughout the race.” Joe also enjoyed the infamous “out and back” section of the A320: “After 4 miles you hit a section of 2 miles out followed by 2 miles straight back along the same road, which I really enjoyed as it was a good chance to see runners coming the other way and cheer on some fellow Chasers/pacers!” He then went on to describe the atmosphere at the finish line, where he witnessed “some heroic sprint finishes”.
In both years of running the Mercer Surrey Half Marathon, Joe commends the faultless organisation of the event:
“I’ve not often said this, but I couldn’t fault the pre-race organisation and everything went incredibly smoothly. There were (quite literally) hundreds of toilets which makes a refreshing change, and regular announcements over the PA system making everyone aware of what was going on.”
“I can’t pick fault with the organisation – it’s brilliant and the facilities at the start/finish area are ideal for a running race. The bag drop ran smoothly and everyone associated with the event was incredibly helpful. Support out on the course is also excellent.”
The 2018 Event Village sports a completely new layout, which will further improve the overall experience for runners and their families. The new Event Village includes a re-designed start funnel, more vendors (including The Juice Smith) a warm-up area, and plenty of toilets. Woking Leisure Centre will continue to offer secure indoor bag storage, but in addition for 2018, will also be offering free post-race yoga sessions in one of their sports halls.
Joe and his friends were just some of many runners who chose to head into Woking Town Centre after the race and take advantage of the “race day deals” offered by local businesses and restaurants: “With all the great running, we felt it appropriate to head to the pub to celebrate, so I had a beer in hand at 11.30am – perfect.” Organisers of the Mercer Surrey Half Marathon have secured even more deals for their 2018 race date, including discounted meals at Woking’s Cattle Steakhouse.
Enter the Mercer Surrey Half Marathon HERE.
Read Joe’s 2017 Surrey Half Marathon blog post HERE.
Read Joe’s 2015 Surrey Half Marathon blog post HERE.