Norwich Half – Gold for Mussett
It’s Gold! As Adrian Mussett storms home at the head of another excellent Harriers effort
A few years ago the day of the Norwich half marathon sat beneath dark stormy clouds, with the noise of sleet and rain heavy against the roof of the luxury animal sheds that Joe Average was allocated; penned in, runners swirling penguin-like in an attempt to keep warm. Ordered out of the shed just before the start we spied a rainbow, and watery sunshine! Lucky! Last year wasn’t so lucky – I am told it was filthy weather with no rainbows, sunshine or flying pigs.
So, where would the weather go today? The drive from Colchester was good and dry until the Norwich outskirts; it had clearly snowed and despite the usual nonsense from the BBC weather lady, who frankly is a better dancer than she is a ‘forecaster’, it started to sleet as the skies got moody, but after half an hour so it stopped and just remained a degree or so above freezing.
In the line up funnel I was allowed to say hello to the elites, if I promised not to look at them. Carwyn was full of hope as he leaped around like Tony Adams at a corner. Colin was a picture of calm wearing those red shorts, a yellow buff and the green vest. Then Adrian arrived, his hand touched my back, and he spoke to me! Then last, but certainly not least, Sarah arrived, smiling, and the crowd parted. I backed out to the correct section as we came under starters orders.
The first mile was a series of turns inside the Norfolk showground, allowing a view of the whole field already snaking along; 4 clear leaders, a gap, another 4, a gap and then a man wearing red shorts. Sarah had settled in to a 6 / 6.10 pace. All hands and arms tingling we left the showground for a road trip that stretched beyond the usual 2 lap course, reaching the villages of Colton, Honingham, and Barnham Broome. I struggled to settle into a rhythm, feeling the cold a little but enjoyed the undulating course, holding the middle of the road and avoiding puddles.
This race always attracts a lot of good runners, both club and non affiliated. There seemed to be a better field this year as one by one I was overtaken to finish 116th in 1.28:06 -the past 2 years this was worth 80th place! Need to improve! On the home straight, the last mile also takes in the showground and the race tannoy was crystal clear in bizarre sunshine reporting that Sarah was finishing as I arrived, sadly second lady (1,21:59) this year, but still a fantastic 46th overall.
I finished to polite applause from no one I knew, found medal and goodies and quickly changed into 4 dry layers to go to where the last mile starts and spectators congregate; then I heard it. Here’s Anita Mussett (1.45:50), wife of today’s winner! Get in! Adrian had won for the 5th time in an outstanding 1.09:46 – was it the Gurkha curry last Friday, magnesium oil, or both?
The awards for men and ladies podium places were made close to the finish line and I managed to stand on tip toes to get a view. There were barriers in the way and a fierce looking tall bloke wearing an Arsenal bobble hat ‘minding’ Adrian and Sarah. Sarah made sure Adrian’s headwear was on the right way round and with a proud wife to watch him he accepted the crowd’s applause, winner’s cheque (swiftly pocketed) and posed for photos.
It was cold to hang around much longer, so I had to look up results on line to see if there would have been the chance of a team gold, but City of Norwich A/C wrapped that up with 2nd, 3rd, 9th and 10th finishers. That’s actually a bit better than 1st, 8th, 16th and (ahem) 116th …..
I did learn that Carwyn’s superb form is continuing and he set another PB in 8th place (1.13:02). Also the amazing Colin Ridley, who along with Graham Gooch and Marc Almond is a personal hero of mine, took yet another top vet prize and claimed 16th spot in 8th place (1.18:10).
It’s always a cracking race in Norwich. The weather is invariably terrible but there is plenty of shelter which unfortunately most of us have to share with the general public. Despite a timing malfunction this year, it’s generally a smooth operation and now that we’re off the grassy showground itself you can get a smooth getaway in the car. There’s sparse support along the way from the Norfolk public and it’s actually quite hard to understand what they’re saying, but they seem happy to see you with their ruddy complexions and large families.