Eden Half Marathon in the wake of Ophelia
The Eden Half Marathon is the most popular and largest half marathon in Cornwall but is certainly not the easiest. Starting and finishing at the Eden Project, the race takes runners around the hilly granite countryside surrounding the china clay pits, through some attractive villages and picturesque forests. The full marathon option takes runners out on an extra long loop up Helman Tor and through more forests, including much more trail. Jenna and Tom pictured here took on the full marathon! Ahead of ex-hurricane Ophelia, a a breezy south-westerly wind brought warm and humid sub-tropical air up from a long way south, but thanks to persistent cloud cover for most of the race, conditions didn't get as hot as they could have been although were notably stuffy. The first 7.5 miles of the half and full marathon follow the same route. Starting up above the biomes, the race starts off fast with a mile-long downhill stretch on tarmac where it is possible to get up some strong pace. Once at the bottom of the hill, a short flat section along the main road follows, before runners are directed off onto trail, followed by an attractive wooded ravine. Runners then commence a prolonged drawn out climb up through the forest next to an attractive river on the left-hand side, on a muddy path where trail shoes would have been a benefit. In general though, road shoes were probably the way to go due to the amount of road. Further up this ascent, just over 2 miles in, we caught up with the slowest of the marathon runners and the next 5 miles would involve weaving our way through the marathon pack. The marathon runners started 10 minutes late whereas the half started on time, meaning we caught the tail end of the marathon pack sooner than we probably should have. Runners eventually emerge back onto tarmac, and follow the country lane to Luxulyan, still predominantly climbing. The road then undulates through the countryside, the full marathon runners pealing off at 7.5 miles. A notable road climb at 10 miles, the last major hill, then brings runners back onto gravelly trail and the seemingly endless return to the Eden Project. Some nice trail running then follows, with a couple of short sharp hills, but from mile 11 it's pretty much flat or downhill all the way home. Runners emerge through the entrance of the Eden Project, go round the back of the car parks and eventually return to tarmac for a very fast downhill finish into the biomes, allowing many runners to open out into a sprint finish. A nice medal, t-shirt and many other freebies await, including a pasty and beer, along with free entry to the Eden Project biomes for you and two guests. All in all, a good day out!