Reading Half 2015

I thought I should pen my experience of the Reading Half marathon as it's been requested several times...
The main issue for me was actually getting to the start of the race without interruptions from work, as I was on standby for the whole period of the race and the days around it.
Hmmm-unfortunately, despite my best ducking and weaving endeavours, I was called for work the Friday afternoon prior to the race (on the Sunday). I had to fly to Atlanta, Georgia straight away..damn. So that was all the winter training out the window then..
Well, actually, no-there was a glimmer of hope as my flight was due back into London on Sunday morning at 0955 - 20 minutes before race start. Well, I could still go for this, although I will clearly be late and will have been up working all night. Well, there's a bit of a challenge then...
I prepared well; first off, my running kit was stowed in the boot of the car that was left in a car park at Heathrow Airport. Next was the problem of parking near the start and then getting to the start. So I called a mate who lives in Reading. He offered to meet me at Junction 11 of the M4 on my arrival post flight, find me a parking space and drive me to the start.
So it was all prepared...
In Atlanta, I managed to some decent rest during the day (not easy), then we flew through the night and fortunately managed to land a little early at 0950. The aircraft was parked and I was first off, together with my suitcase, which meant I didn't have to wait by the carousel for it to arrive.
Immigration and then Customs were quickly passed through (it helps being staff) and I boarded a (fortunately) waiting bus that took me to the car park.
Now was my opportunity to get changed into running kit (hopefully not seen by any passing drivers!). Before I knew it, I was off down the motorway and liaising with my friend on expected arrival time at Junction 11 (around 1045 ish).
Andy had done his homework and found a suitable place to park my car. We met, I hopped into his vehicle and we set off for the starting gate. We had a bit of blagging to do for, although by now the race had long since started, there were still barriers and officials in attendance. Anyway, we were let through (some sympathy that I had come all the way from Atlanta to race!)...and I was dropped right by the start gate. There were a few bemused looks as the crew were in the process of dismantling the whole area, and I was informed the starting electronics had already gone, so I wouldn't get an official start time. Not a problem.
So, off I went, starting my stopwatch as I passed the starting gate (at around 1110-some 50 minutes after the official start). There were quiet a few strange looks from onlookers and officials for the first few miles, but I was really enjoying the attention! No water at the first station, but that was not an issue as I was well hydrated. I figured I may start to catch the back markers around mile 5ish and, sure enough I caught the first ones in the University campus, pretty much as expected.
So that was that-the rest of the race went like clockwork, especially considering I'd been up all night..
I finished in 2 hours 15 mins and 55, which is pretty much where I expected on a normal day..
Great race! Very enjoyable. Hope next year is a little less exciting though!
Rob Gregory