Yesterday I was down in Surrey for the Cranleigh 21 miler. I was nervous but felt confident and excited to complete the distance. It was going to be my longest run before the London Marathon and I wanted it to be a strong run.

The Cranleigh 21 was a relatively small event run on undulating roads. There were two laps (one of nine miles and a second of six miles) and at the end of lap two, we had the option to either peel off for the 15 mile finish or opt for a second six mile lap to bring the distance up to 21 miles.

My race plan was to take it easy at the start and build up speed later on in the race, but like always, I got swept away by the crowd and I ended up doing 4.45min/km. I found a nice pace to run at, didn’t feel strained or out of breath, and I felt steady and strong as I flew round the first 9-mile loop and ran through the centre of Cranleigh, dodging the pedestrians as I went through the high street to a bit of trail that signified the start of the first six-mile loop.

The next 6 miles the inclines seemed to take more effort and when I went past the 15-mile finish I kind of wish I could just finish! But I dug deep and saw it through the second 6-mile loop.

Out of the 488 finishers of the 21 mile route I was the 26th female finisher (7th in my age category) in a time of 2:44:32. I was really pleased with that, given that I haven’t done many long runs (my longest before this was about 15 miles) so it gave me a much needed boost before the marathon!

Overall the Cranleigh 21 was an excellent event, it was really cheap to enter (just £20) and it was a great change of scenery from my usual local long run route along the Thames. Cranleigh is a lovely area full of beautiful houses and countryside. The atmosphere of the race was really friendly and the marshals were encouraging. Each mile was marked, the water stations came about every three miles and the course was clearly signposted.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who’s looking to take part in a training race before a marathon!

– Jess