heritage / hiking / running Cyprus long weekend including half-marathon by Stephen6 March 201825 October 2019 My London Marathon training plan called for a half-marathon about now, and somehow the plan arose of popping for a visit to the Cyprus Half-Marathon. As we prepare to depart England, the de-icing canon is in use and the ground is covered in snow. We are glad to be escaping. Later that day… Looking towards the Troodos mountains from Pissouri In early March, the swimming pool is a bit chilly, but pleasant for a paddle while wearing my Guide Dogs London Marathon top. The familiar but lovely view from Kambos villa A visit to the Kato Paphos archaeological site Mosaics in the House of Dionysos Icarios with a carriage laden with wine and drunken shepherds. Looking past the Odeon theatre towards the modern city of Paphos Lucy with Paphos Lighthouse, built by the British in 1888 Aphrodite’s Rock Lucy and I went for a walk along the Kaledonia Trail to the Kaledonia Falls A strawberry tree, apparently – certainly quite red, anyway. Sunday morning and it’s race day. The marathon runners had started at Aphrodite’s Rock at 7.30 for a one-way run into Paphos, while the rest of us are assembling here by the harbour. The start and finish were by the castle at the harbour, and though very familiar to me, still a great spot. While the marathon runners are many miles away, the start area for the rest of us was a little busy with HM, 10k and 5k runners all milling about together, but absent any instructions I headed as close as I could get to the start line, which proved a sensible move. The temperature was unseasonably warm, being 19 when we set off – I’m not sure what it was later in the race but it reached 26 later in the day. Lucy and my parents had driven out to a roundabout on the course, which thanks to the doubling back of the route, meant that with virtually no movement they were at the 5km, 9km and 16km points, which meant for good support and also the opportunity to be refuelled twice: I deliberately timed my walk breaks to be as I passed them at 5 and 16 kilometres. After reaching the high point, 60 metres above sea level, after 12.5km, I realised I wasn’t far off PB pace and was feeling good, so pushed myself quite hard, skipping the walk break at mile 8 as it was downhill, and having one at about mile 11½ instead of 11 and 12, and really trying to push the pace. It is amazing how a trivial upwards slope of less than 1% still feels vertiginous towards the end of a race – I’d never noticed that the coastal road past the hotels is fractionally uphill, but now I did as I fought to gain a few extra seconds. I found I couldn’t quite make up the missing time, though, despite finishing with a 4:24/km sprint which passed a few people, with shouts of support from friends coming as I neared the line. I finished 13 seconds off my target, in 1:56:19. However, I subsequently realised that my PB was 1:56:26, not :06, and so it was a new PB by 7 seconds which is fabulous, and makes that sprint finish doubly worthwhile.I stopped to recover for a few minutes, and admired the astonishing array of trophies for the various age categories. A small pork chop for lunch to replace some of the calories used in the run Lucy braves the chilly swimming pool The handkerchief tree in Paphos Exploring part of the archaeological site in Paphos that is just open to wander around, yet which somehow we’d never previously visited in all our trips to Cyprus The theatre, being excavated since 1995 by the University of Sydney.