This is the longest underground race in the UK, with one of the tunnels being over a mile long. There are a variety of distant & route options for this race, for the half you can go out through the tunnels & head back over them or get the ‘return ticket’ to go through the tunnels in both directions, which is what I did.
“Cutting right under the city of Bath, the two tunnels offer a truly unique running experience. The Somerset & Dorset Railway closed in 1966 and until April 2013 the tunnels have been sealed and inaccessible. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Two Tunnels Group and Sustrans over 7 years, the two tunnels now have a new lease of life as a shared use path. The first tunnel; The Devonshire Tunnel is 408m long and the second Combe Down Tunnel is 1672m long. Both tunnels are well lit and well surfaced, and have recently been converted into a shared use path for the enjoyments of runners, walkers and cyclists looking to make the most of the city whilst remaining a flatter ground. “
I looked into this race a couple of years a couple of years ago. It didn’t fit into my race calendar then but this year my calendar opened up as I dropped out of the Brecon Beacons 50k a couple of weeks ago due to not being well the last few weeks. I felt up for a half and who could resist a weekend in Bath.
We spent the Saturday afternoon wondering around the Roman Baths, had a visit to the fudge shop (my main memory from visiting Bath when I was little), a stop in the pub before heading to dinner at Circus- this restaurant is wonderful and if you go to Bath I highly recommend it. The food was amazing- the savoury cheesecake was so delicious and the Limoncello after the meal was yummy too.
After a short cab ride from Bath town centre we arrived at the start area. It was a beautiful sunny morning with people lounging in the sun before the race, getting ready and watching the kids colour run that was already in full swing. It was super easy to pick up our race numbers, there were several different waves/bib colours to spread out all the runners along the narrow route. We were the green wave and were to head off first.
I dropped my bag off & joined the loo queue. The queue was quite long BUT an announcement was made for green numbers to head to the front of the loo queue so we could be ready for the warm up! And with that this race was already a winner! A fabulous idea that more races should take on board. I skipped to the front of the queue with my fellow green number runners and then went to join in with the warm up. It’s not very often I join in with a warm up – it must have been something in the air as even Darren (@runnersknees) joined in & he NEVER joins in with a warm up (with the exception of Bacchus- a Unicorn needs to warm up).
After the warm up we moved to the starting area and with a countdown we were off, across a field and on to the path way up bit of an incline and along some pretty pathways a short way to the first tunnel (408m long). The second tunnel (1672m) isn’t far from the first. I really enjoyed running through the tunnels, it feels quite surreal especially when you get to the sound & light installation in the long tunnel that was playing classical music.
The paths & tunnels are quite narrow but the waves really helped spread the runners out along the route. We ran in single file in places to allow bikes/other runners go past in both directions but most people were quite mindful of sharing the space (apart from the odd cyclist who seemed oblivious to their own safety as well as ours as they sped past).
Once of the second tunnel we ran along to the water/snack tables and then further up the path to the turning point for the return ticket. Then we ran back the way we came, through the tunnels and up the little hill to the field to start our second lap. I’m always a bit dubious about lap races but I loved this one. I felt like the running in the tunnels was easy and the parts out in the open were really pretty.
I was almost disappointed when we exited the tunnel for the last time- I was enjoying myself. We ran up the hill (that was definitely tougher the second time around) and onto the field and towards the finish line. We were done! The first half marathon in a long time finished.
We got our medals and bag easily, then a yummy hot chocolate. There were a couple of food & drink vans and a stall selling some lovely looking kit from Bosombuddies that I will definitely be purchasing online (there was a much bigger range on the stall that is currently online but they told me that the website will be updated in the next couple of weeks with the full range so check it out). We took a walk back to Bath in the sunshine and got some food before heading back to London.
It was great to see a few of the ukrunchat gang whilst we were there. We saw Jacky (@RoadRunnerJacky) & got a post run pic with Carol (@Chlebbi)….who I may have called Jacky on the day (sorry) the top is confusing haha.
Then Jane (@HayJaney) joined us for some post run food & a couple of drinks. I love going to races and seeing people- it’s like one big running family.
I would definitely recommend this race. I know I’d like to do it again and will be checking out their other races (you can check the out HERE). It’s a gorgeous place to run in, it’s fun to do something a bit different running through tunnels and the race organisation was superb. I wish I could make the whole series so I could make a medal pyramid!
Now I should probably book myself some more races as have nothing booked between now & Ultraks at the end of August- 46k of Swiss mountains!