Chris O’Brien heads for the hills of the Winchester Half Marathon

After completing 13.1 miles in training the previous day, Chris took on the brutally undulating Winchester Half Marathon

Now working toward the latter stages of his marathon training, Chris O’Brien decided to take things up a notch and enter the Winchester Half Marathon, the day after completing a 13.1 mile training run at his intended marathon pace.

This was always going to be a tough ask in itself, but when you consider the course profile of the Winchester half it puts an altogether different slant on the achievement.

Chris described the route as “pretty brutal” and said the hills just seemed to go on forever. Whilst there were some downhill sections that helped bring the pace back up, it seemed there was always another incline to follow. “Even the downhills had sneaky little uphills in them,” Chris proclaimed.

Chris works his way up one of the many tough hills he had to face during the Winchester Half Marathon

That didn’t seem to stop Chris from clocking a mightily impressive time though, finishing in a time of 1:29:05. This put him in 23rd place overall, out of a field of 1,334. It didn’t quite match the time from his training run the previous day, which 1:27:38 but that was along the seafront, whereas the 988ft elevation gain made the Winchester race a very different prospect.

Chris had an average pace of 6:51 m/m and was also 7th in the V40 category. It’s probably a fair assumption to make though that most of those were finished ahead of him hadn’t covered the same distance the previous day.

Chris sprints toward the line to finish in a time of 1:29:05, putting him in 23rd place

Despite the strain of the undulation, Chris did still enjoy the lovely scenery and said the support from the marshals and spectators out on route was first class.

This was to be the last race for Chris before Abingdon Marathon on 22nd October, although he’ll have one more long training run before the taper. Abingdon is a flat course so that will hopefully make it easier for Chris to establish a consistent pace.

He does feel that hills are not necessarily his strong suit but Chris did feel the benefit off the strength training that he’s been doing as it helped him dig in for longer on the uphills and change up gears when it evened out and on the descent.

Chris currently has a marathon PB of 3:00:29 which he set at Manchester in April this year. He’s hoping that Abingdon will be his first sub-three hour marathon. He’s been training for a time of 2:55 to 2:56 but is allowing some drift room in the last 10k as all his previous marathons have seen a drop in pace over that section. He’s hopeful that the strength work he’s been doing will help to reduce that drift somewhat.

Chris is looking strong in the last mile of his final race before the tapering for his forthcoming marathon begins