The upgrade of the A14 between Milton and Ellington has been a frustrating experience as a motorist, with seemingly endless roadworks, and at times little evident progress with millions of pounds of equipment sitting idle so often. But at last the progress is becoming more evident, and while the online improvements south of Fenstanton aren’t due to be finished until December 2020, the offline section forming the Huntingdon southern bypass will be opened this year. Perhaps arising from a post on Facebook that I saw, or perhaps elsewhere, there emerged plans for cycle and running events on the nearly complete carriageway before it opens. Although I have the Great Eastern Run half-marathon tomorrow, I thought that this wasn’t an opportunity I would get again, so signed up as soon as I could. There was a 14km run, to match the A14, but bearing in mind the Great Eastern, I selected the half distance of 7km, and planned to take it easy to try not to tire my legs too much for tomorrow.
(As it happens, the Great Eastern Run was cancelled the next day, due to a police incident involving an armed response, so I could have run faster, and/or done the full 14km, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.)
From the Brampton Hut junction (Highways England call it the Ellington junction, but I think they’re currently in a minority) I’ve had the rare experience of driving along the eastbound carriageway at 15 mph with my hazard lights on, dodging various bits of road-building equipment, barriers and holes. I then did a u-turn through a gap in the concrete barrier onto the westbound carriageway, where I’ve driven past a long line of parked cars to put mine at the end. The photo is looking north along the “westbound” carriageway, with the new A1 to the left.
From the car, starting the 1.2km walk along the new carriageway
From the registration area, looking back towards the A1 with the sliproads of the Brampton Interchange on either side.
Spreading ourselves out across the four lanes of the A14 westbound
And we’re off – 1km into the run. The 750m-long Great Ouse Viaduct can just be seen in the distance as the road curves to the left
We’ve gained some lane markings but a bit more work still to be done
After the 3.5km turn around point, and we have road signs – incidentally seeming to confirm that it will, after all, be the A14 and not the A14(M) as had been proposed. Emma Nicholson of the Lonely Goat Running Club is just in front of me – we each passed the other twice. I contemplated asking her what the Lonely Goat RC is, but thought she might not favour a detailed conversation while running.
Back on the Great Ouse Viaduct
And crossing the Great Ouse
I clearly slightly misjudged the first kilometre but was otherwise successful in my aim of a nice even pace, deliberately moderate so as not to overtire my legs.
I was pleased with the water bottle at the end – some water to drink, but something worth keeping rather than a “goody bag” full of rubbish.
I liked the slogan for the day – I hope I haven’t damaged my chances for tomorrow, but this was one chance, and I’m glad I took it. Congratulations to Highways England the the A14 Team for making it happen.
And a decent medal too, highlighting the Great Ouse Viaduct element of the run.
We had a weekend away in Vienna for the twin purposes of me running the Vienna half-marathon and eating Wiener Schnitzel – we stayed in an apartment close to the Danube and the race start, while Mum and Dad stayed in a hotel in the centre of the city.
Friday evening in front of the opera house
Saturday morning and we went for a gentle 5km jog – Lucy crosses the Danube with several other runners
a barge on the Danube
Most of our morning run was on this lovely island between the new and old courses of the Danube
In the afternoon we went to the exposition to collect my race pack
We also found that we were able to collect some Kaiserschmarn
The Wiener Riesenrad is a 65-metre tall ferris wheel, dating from 1897. Astonishingly they didn’t take credit cards but we had just enough cash, leaving us with one eurocent.
The capital city from the Wiener Riesenrad
Later, we went for a boat ride on the Danube Canal
Later, a visit to the Hotel Sacher where the four of us had the famous cake (after a lengthy queue for a table). Very nice, though not extraordinarily special.
Sunday morning, and I’m ready for the off, if rather wide-eyed.
The Danube is looking much bluer than yesterday
The joining instructions weren’t as clear as they might have been, and focused very much on using public transport to get to the start, but our apartment was deliberately within walking distance – it wasn’t clear whether I would be forced to use the Underground to cross the river, and clearly I wouldn’t be the only one within walking distance so it was something of an omission. When I reached the closed road, I found a few others walking across so I joined them. Looking back to the south-west, this will be the direction of travel across the Reichsbrücke once we’ve started.
The only sight of the lead vehicles I’m likely to get
Continuing to walk to the start through the cars, officials and other detritus – it still wasn’t clear whether the route of myself and others was permitted or not, but no-one asked us not to, so we pressed on, finding much more confusion – there were no maps, no signs, no significant number of toilets, just endless people moving about in all directions. I eventually found my start area more by instinct than any clear signage, and there was no system in place to make sure people were in the start zone they were supposed to be. Perhaps Austrian efficiency isn’t up to German levels.
We’re ready to start, but first the billowing piece of fabric, presumably advertising one of the sponsors for the benefit of the helicopters above, needs to be passed over our heads and back down the field.
Lucy is waiting at the far end of the bridge and here is the lead car and a pack of elite African runners.
Meanwhile I’m still stationary, being entertained by the big screen.
Here I am at last.
After Lucy, Mum and Dad had waved at me mid-way and passed me fresh nutrition, Lucy found herself a spot in the grandstand just short of the finish. I knew she was there somewhere, so I’m waving confidently even though I haven’t yet seen her.
Still waving, and I think by now I had seen Lucy
Afterwards, walking back to the underground station to return to the apartment for a shower and a rest. Later we went for a boat trip with Mum and Dad on the Danube and back into the centre on the Danube Canal, then headed out for a final meal, once again sampling the delights of Viennese cuisine.
Leberknödelsuppe Wiener Schnitzel Sacher Torte