Katie Oliver gives a full run down of the Frome Half Marathon 2021 including the course, her experience as a first-time half marathon runner, and what to expect if you're thinking of running it yourself.
Completing Frome Half Marathon is one of my biggest achievements to date. Not only was this my first time ever completing the 21km distance, but I did so in astoundingly hot conditions of the high twenties. Whilst my performance may not have been what I’d initially hoped for, the event and atmosphere certainly were.
Right from initially arriving at the venue, everything was extremely well organised. Car parking was free and easy, there were an abundance of signposts sending you in the correct direction and the start line was well distanced and maintained. Given I arrived to this event feeling somewhat apprehensive, the seamless start line experience helped me to feel a lot more at ease before setting off.
Now, let’s not beat around the bush, the course for this event is hilly. Overall, the elevation gain according to Strava was 270m. For some, this may not seem a lot. But for someone like me who is not used to these inclines, it is more than noticeable. That said, the route is absolutely gorgeous and takes in some stunning Wiltshire countryside. It was also the most well supported event I have ever raced, with hundreds of residents lining the streets outside their houses to cheer us on. The encouragement and atmosphere they provided, along with the route marshals, was second to none – and their hose pipes were a life saver in that heat!
Initially the route takes you on a fairly flat loop through the residential areas of Frome, passing then up through the town centre and on your way out to the small quaint village of Nunney. From 4km onwards the route becomes much more undulating. Some noticeable, long uphill sections followed by some steep downhills where you can get the legs turning. Reaching Nunney was a lovely point on the course, heading down past small, thatched houses with beautiful gardens and passing by the glorious castle.
Once through Nunney you’re greeted by more peaceful country roads - until reaching mile 11. Egford Hill was an experience, a steep 1km long climb back up into Frome. As I understand, you can achieve a King of The Mountains award for soldiering up here in the quickest time on the day – showcasing the clear challenge involved. Once Egford is conquered, you have a wonderful downhill stretch back through the centre of Frome, with more locals cheering you on from the side lines. Unfortunately, the final mile is a steady climb to reach the finish, however by this point adrenaline and excitement carries you on to the finish line where you’re greeted by cheering spectators and water and medals galore.
Throughout the course there were at least six water stations to keep all runners well hydrated, as well as a couple set up by local residents to offer a little extra support. Toilets were also located around 8 miles in which, I’m sure, was a useful addition. All of these stations were well manned by brilliant volunteers who couldn’t help you enough.
Given this was my first attempt at a half marathon distance, I felt a lot of apprehension on the start line. However, I came away from this event with an indescribable feeling of elation that can only be created by an in-person, excellently organised event. Although I was largely disappointed with my time and the conditions on the day were almost unbearable, I still crossed that line and achieved what I had set out to do. Had the marshals not been so dedicated and the residents so motivating, it’s highly unlikely as many people would have crossed that finish line as did in such challenging conditions. The support I felt on the day was unrivalled and for that I am extremely thankful to all involved in this event.
Before starting, a fellow runner told me Frome Half Marathon would be a “baptism of fire” to have chosen for my first half. Whilst in some ways this was entirely true, I don’t believe many other events get that incredible level of support from residents and create the amazing atmosphere that I know will set me off on a long path of half marathons.
I would recommend this event to anyone – beginner or elite. It offers an abundance of challenge for those looking for the next step in their half marathon journey, yet offers an exceptional atmosphere that can support any beginner to their finish line dream, no matter the time. Plus, the medal at the end is a rather pretty bit of bling to add to the collection.