I am a freelance writer, living in Bath with my wife and son.
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Bath At Its Best- The Half Marathon
Whether you are watching or running, this celebration of Bath is an emotional, exciting spectacle that is one of the highlights of the year. Attracting over 12,000 runners every year, it is a celebration of health, fitness, charity work and BATH. The 13.1 mile route winds its way in a double loop through the city, and is lined with several 'cheer points' along the way. As a runner of six Bath Halves, I fondly remember the selfless and joyous support that Bathonians give to runners around the site. Several high profile celebrities can be spotted running the Half, interspersed with incredible fancy-dressed runners and standard sports-clad athletes. Attracting both independent runners and charity fundraisers, the Bath Half is a passionate affair, and everybody feels empowered by this wholly positive event.
The enthusiasm and encouragement that spectators bring is incredible. Even in quieter parts of the circuit, residents line the streets and offer restorative snacks to the runners. The student population are especially generous, and cheer from their gardens (often blaring out music from hi fi's in their pajamas). 'Bathalf', as it is known, even brings out local bands who sing and play out tunes to speed the runners along their way. My wife, who has spectated six times, always says how emotional and special it is to watch the event. I echo this sentiment, and can only describe the run as a shared experience of running for a cause, or supporting a loved one who is running. For me, I am never prouder of my city than on Bath Half day.
I love this event for its spectacle and celebration. The focal point for runners and supporters is Queen's Square, which is one of the central tourist locations in Bath. The runners navigate the square twice during the race, and the crowd are at their most numerous (and loudest) here. Bath's resident Samba band always play for the runners here, and this is often the point to aim for if you want to spot somebody special running. If you look at the clip below, you will see the footage that I took from the 2014 race, using a Go Pro strapped to my head.
Advice for spectators:
Due to the immense size of the event (held on 4th March in 2018), the city's roads go into barricaded lockdown. Because the route loops through the city centre, there is no access to the arterial roads after 6 am on the day of the event. Though dismantled quickly and safely, the fences block off the road until approximately 3pm, when an army of trucks arrive to dismantle the route. As such, parking is impossible, and I would advise arriving the evening before the event, by public transport if possible. If keen to spot loved ones, then agree on a 'cheer spot' in which you will be able to greet your runner. If wishing to eat after the event, then book well in advance, as there will be over 12,000 hungry runners after a meal once they get their medals.
Music for the runners
Advice for runners:
Enjoy! The race is a superbly organised and very happy event. Go online here to register and sign up for the race. On race day, the city's rugby ground (the Rec) is turned in to the runners' village which offers baggage storage, toilets, charity tents and food, water and goodies after the run ends. There are several drinks points around the route (you will receive a race pack, chip timer and a lot of information before the race day). An army of volunteers also act as marshals, water-givers and medal presenters throughout the proceedings, so you will feel looked after. I have nothing but gratitude and praise for the organisers of this brilliant event. It makes me feel very proud to live in the city.