Round 11 in the Cornish Grand Prix Series, the Indian Queens half marathon is a staple in the Cornish summer road running scene. Fast and (fairly) flat, the route encompasses a nice section of trail and some moorland between Indian Queens and Roche. The flattest half marathon in Cornwall and ideal for a PB or a first half marathon, although the significant portion of trail, with some notable potholes this year, and some tight twisty bends, do make it a little slower compared to a city half.
Thankfully, this year it wasn't too hot either, which has been one of the curses of this race in recent years. A cool westerly breeze blew a fair bit of cloud in off the Atlantic, but there were some notable periods of bright sunshine, especially early in the race when it did get a little warm. Despite all the recent rain, the course had dried out nicely and there was no problem with it being greasy underfoot.
The race starts off very fast, with a wide open section of road leading gently downhill out of the village of Indian Queens. The first couple of miles involve a mostly flat section of country roads before around mile 3, runners head onto a bridge across the A30 and out onto the trail. There is some shade early on during the trail section but later on it becomes rather exposed, but thankfully beating hot sunshine was much less of a handicap this year. A raucous brass band, in the same position every year around mile 4, is very uplifting.
Eventually runners head back onto the road around mile 7 and start a long but gradual climb onto the moor, with the mounds of the Imerys china clay pits straight ahead. Like most of the "hills" in this race, the climb isn't steep but long and gradual, before runners are suddenly directed off to the right and run back down the hill again via a different road. At this point the course is essentially looping back to rejoin the outbound section of trail, and the faster runners then get a chance to offer encouragement to the runners making their way up the outbound trail, and vice versa.
The trail is flat for a long time, back past the brass band once more, before a rise, which steepens to a final kick up over the bridge across the A30, tiring and unwelcome at this stage in the race. There is then a final long gradual uphill drag back up the main road into Indian Queens which seems to drag on forever, before finishing in the grounds of the Indian Queens Working Mens Club.
Runners were in varying states as they crossed the finish line, ranging from some storming in with a smile on their faces to others literally crawling across the finish line or being dragged across by fellow runners, with most somewhere inbetween and fairly uncomplimentary about the challenge they had just completed. Regardless, most will probably return next year!
Next up, off to Land's End and the St. Levan 10K on Friday...