I started by asking 'Why did you choose to run Stafford Half?'
Stafford was my first half marathon last year so I was very keen to do it this year, it’s nearly a home race for me (nearly as I work in Stafford). I had a relatively light training week in the lead up to the race, but thought 13 miles the Friday before was not very wise really.
I arrived early with a full support crew in tow, Nic my other half doesn’t get to come and watch me run very often, so I wanted to put on a decent performance and prove the hours of training are not a total waste of time. Straight away we bumped into the other Shabbas doing the run. Running were myself, Daz, Barry Patel (using fellow Shabba Harshad’s number, not running due to injury), Chris Collis, Greg and Dennis."
Daz "Looking back I can’t even remember signing up for Stafford but knew that I’d got it in my calendar so by some logic (with a splash of memory loss) I was in! I’ve run Stafford once before in 2012 and I recall at the end of the race crossing the line with my former Sunday league team mate, and now Shabba Runner, Dennis Hussey. It would be one of many races from then on where we’d randomly meet up at the start or the end of a course. This day in 2012 was also interesting for me as Den introduced me to some of his mates who were also there with him, one of which is now also Walsall Park Runner and Shabba Runner Harshad Patel….although my memory loss must have started a while ago I didn’t recall Harshad looking as white and bald as he did for this years race!? (I’ll explain if requested). So with these memories in mind, this race carried with it a certain amount of nostalgia and also a chance to see how/if I’d improved within the 2 year gap as my previous time was 1:38:56.
Leading up to the race, I could certainly feel the wear and tear of the Silverstone half and Ashby 20 on the consecutive weekends before and also the midweek speed and hill training on top of it, so I guess you could say that I didn’t feel as refreshingly awesome (if that is ever possible) as I’d liked going into this one."
RR: So tell me more about what happened during the race itself.
The reception in the town centre was amazing, the crowd were so loud it really does give you goose bumps. I managed to hear Marie (fellow Shabba and wife of Baz) and my support crew above the noise that everyone else was making. As I crossed the line in 1h32 (a new pb) I initially struggled to walk, but the sight of the Shabbas stood waiting for me to cross the line put that spring back in my step."
Through gritted teeth and sheer bloody mindedness, I carried on with a strong headwind in my face and miles 7-12 simply became an exercise in just getting the miles done and getting through it… I couldn’t tell you anything about the course between these miles as I’d just got my head down and kept repeatedly counting to a hundred to occupy my mind. The support was fantastic though and was out on pretty much every corner, which was such a welcome thing when I felt as crappy as I did….although waving and saying thanks did cause me to lose count. In contrast, the last mile felt pretty good as earlier I’d resigned myself to a 86min finish but at this point I thought that an 84min was a possibility and kicked on. The atmosphere had been really good all around the course but going into the final turn is absolutely amazing… I gave it everything I had left before finally crossing the line and collapsing to the floor like that guy from Platoon."
RR: Wow! I'm both laughing and awestruck at what you both put yourselves through. Was it worth it? Were you happy with the result!
We waited together until the last Shabba crossed the line (the Shabba way), and I must say we all looked spent as we crossed the line, like we had really given the race our best shot. The medal and t shirt were both great reward for our efforts, and on reflection I am over the moon with my time."
Daz "Despite the earlier drama, I knew that I’d got a good time and seeing the Garmin saying 1:24:02 (officially 1:24:03), I was pleasantly annoyed by the “:02” but had knocked 10 seconds off my previous half marathon PB. I was amazed!! I was helped off the floor by a marshal and then got a Shabba shout-out from @LisaMia who was there supporting her other-half (apologies Lisa, I don’t think that I actually made any sense when we spoke), before then seeing the awesome Shabba Bikers Byron & Gaz…these guys trailed us all around the route on bikes offering support and encouragement which was so needed after 6miles. These guys were fantastic as they, probably without even knowing it, picked up my spirits and helped me soldier on and get through to the end. This is the epitome of what being a Shabba is all about, you don’t have to be running to support your fellow team mates.
As I chatted to the guys, one by one the Shabbas came across the line like bombers from the World War 2 returning home (I am the barking beagle in this image). Greg was first and looked the same as he did before he started, followed by Ian “the PB machine” Glover, then Chris, Des and then Baz Patel. There was an awesome buzz at the end which is always brilliant to be part of.
So, all in all it was a run of mixed emotion really? Felt achy, sore, tired, miserable for most of the run but then got a new PB of 84:03 at the end of it…and in addition to this, I found out afterwards that I’d actually finished 41st out of 2000+ finishers, which obviously I was delighted with!
It just goes to show, even when you think you’re done, beaten and finished that you can still go on and achieve great things! I think it was the great philosopher George McFly who once said “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything”, never a truer word said"
RR: I'm delighted to hear you're both happy, and I think given what you've told me today you deserve to be! So, what's next for you both?
Daz "Next up… Manchester 06/04/2014!"
RR: well we certainly wish you both all the luck in the world with your next events. Thank you both for talking us through your day, it was a pleasure to hear your stories.