The Bath Running Festival Half Marathon certainly wouldn’t be categorized as your standard half marathon race. It’s 16 miles long for a start! It also incorporates over 2,000ft of climbing, with some vicious hills that are enough to test the mettle of runners of all abilities.
Fortunately, Lázsló Tóth hadn’t come for an easy ride. He’d arrived in search of a challenge that was really going to take him to the limit – and in the Very Long Bath Half Marathon, he’d certainly found that.
The route incorporates some of the toughest hills in Bath, including the original Roman Fosse Way which comes into play just after the 10km point. Then there’s the climb up to Little Solsbury Hill at 13k before the final ascent back up to Sham Castle at the end of the course.
The breath-taking views of Bath and the surrounding valleys at the top of each hill certainly help to make the effort to get up the climbs all the more rewarding.
Concentrating primarily on his track work over recent times, Lázsló has found he’s quite adept at running 800m and 1500m races and has featured in the Southern Athletics League for BAC at the last couple of meetings.
Two weeks ago, at Woking, he completed the 800m in a stunning time of 2:08.1 and registered an improved 1500m time of 4:28.3, showing real promise in these newfound disciplines.
Of course, he still enjoys his road running forays though and the Bath Running Festival Half Marathon gave him a great opportunity to test his endurance and strength in in a longer distance run.
The first 6k of the race are nice and relaxed, heading down North Road before turning off at Sham Castle Lane to join the Kennet and Avon Canal at Sydney Gardens. The route then heads along the canal to Bathampton and over the toll bridge before lopping round underneath it.
It then follows alongside the River Avon before heading to Bath Easton where the first of three big climbs lies in wait. The original Roman Fosse Way heads straight up the hill with a steep gradient in effect as the terrain changes to woodland.
After that it’s down St Catherine’s Valley and onto some country lanes for a short time before the steepest climb of the course must be negotiated at 10.5k. That is followed by some much needed flatter ground along the Charmy Down Ridge and a small descent before the climb up to Little Solsbury Hill at 13k.
Once at the top of Little Solsbury Hill, the route then re-joins the River Avon at Bath Easton and retraces its steps back over the toll bridge and onto the canal before heading back up North Road towards Sham Castle, finishing with a lap around the lakes.
Tackling the tough hills very well and making good use of the downhill sections, Lázsló powered round the course, completing the 16 miles in a stellar time of 2 hours 8 minutes and 34 seconds which, given the profile of the course, was a very good time.
After the race was over, Lázsló moved quickly onto preparing for his next exploit which was the SOAR Summer Mile that he was due to take part in the following weekend. The SOAR Mile is staged on the track in the magnificent Queen Elizabeth Country Park.