Well it was officially my 10th year in a row of running the Reading Half Marathon having first run the event in 2006 as a total rookie (in a time of 1.47 if you were wondering).

It was definitely going to be a fancy dressed effort this year and the Dick Dastardly costume was selected from the wardrobe.

We arrived early as Sally-anne & Annabelle were completing the Green Park challenge with a number of parents and school friends which was great to see.

2015 Green Park Challenge

Girls flying around to the finish of the Green Park challenge.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t well going into the race with cough/cold/sore throat symptoms and in the morning I was approaching this as “just get it over with and continue the streak”. It was also a pretty cool morning which saw me shivering quite a bit as I waited to meet up with some work colleagues for our mandatory pre-race photo but thankfully the sun came out and I warmed up before the race itself.

2015 Reading Half Marathon Paul Ali Dick Dastardly 01

2015 Team Covea. 

I started by the 1.40 pacer and we set off along the slightly amended route which saw us complete a 1 mile loop of Green Park at the start rather than at the end of the race. This was a good design choice in my opinion as I like the long straight along the A33 to the finish at the Madjeski Stadium which you can see in sight and I don’t think anyone enjoyed the little tease at the end of the race with the Green Park loop at Mile 12.

Despite feeling pretty rough before the start, I forgot about this when I started running and settled into a 7m/m pace. I had to stop at one of the cubicles at Reading University for what seemed like an eternity (but was probably only 30-40 seconds or so) and then continued on.

The crowd support was ace as usual with plenty of supporters out on the street and I saw a few friends and work colleagues along the way. My “lets get it over with attitude” shifted towards a more positive mindset to enjoy the day and I was running ok.

My “Dick Dastardly” costume was mistaken for many other things and I was called; Super Mario, Willy Wonka, A Dick but most people over 35 managed to pick up the Dick Dastardly theme and there were a few knowing winks from the parents around the course and a few who then shouted.. “Where’s Mutley”.. “Stop the Pigeon”… I do enjoy a bit of banter around the course but my voice was so hoarse with the sore throat that I could hardly speak or shout back. It did warm up quite a bit during the race as you can probably tell from the sweaty running photos.

I carried on at a pretty consistent pace arriving at the 9-10 mile point (which is about a mile from my house) and Sally-anne and Annabelle were there cheering me on.

2015 Reading Half Marathon Paul Ali Dick Dastardly 03

My second half of the race was slightly quicker than the first half so my pacing was pretty good throughout the whole event.

I managed to finish in 1.31.29 a couple of minutes off my PB but a huge new “Fancy Dress PB”. As I crossed the finish line, one of the marshall mentioned I was the first fancy dress runner home. If… if… that is the case.. then DREAM OBJECTIVE COMPLETED!

Surely the local newspaper will now print a picture of me running the local Half Marathon after 10 years of trying to get my picture in the paper with different fancy dress outfits? I even carried an 8 foot cardboard Batmobile around Reading in 2012 with Stouty and they still didn’t print a picture of us!

Joking aside, it was a good day out overall and after the race I jogged back along the course to spot a few friends and fellow club runners before getting home.

Unfortunately, that’s when the illness caught up with me and I spent the whole afternoon doubled up with stomach cramps, feeling rough with a sore throat and no appetite. Drat and double drat.. I should have realised that Dick Dastardly never has a good day at a race.