Notes From A Bloke Running Marathons.
Marathons eh? What do you want to run that far for? Are you daft? That’s what I used to ask fellow runners at the time, having been a semi -regular 10k, 10 mile and half-marathon runner for 12 or so years before I got the urge. Not for me, no way. That was until the announcement of a marathon in Hull for 2012. Oh, go on then, just the one… seeing as it’s at home (as happened at this year’s Hull event, with loads of first timers, old timers, and local club runners signing up).
All went well with the training, blessed as we are, having the East Hull 20 in March, less than a month before. Perfect preparation. Race day went well too, running most of the distance with a club mate (no names, but he’s 50 minutes quicker now!). The sense of: achievement, running out of the comfort zone, comradeship, discovering inner truths, and confronting our inner selves. Yep, all that stuff and more. And then …finding out it was short! Not a full one. Gutted. Organised by cowboys. So, I entered another. Kielder in October 2012. 8 minutes quicker. A Mile! Loved it, and got the bug.
Fast forward to 2015, and I’m still doing marathons. It gives a purpose and logic to building up the training during the winter cross- country season to Ferriby 10 to our East Hull 20 and the summer league and beyond. The only thing is, I get bored of the bread and butter long Sunday training run on a Sunday, so I convinced myself that running more marathons is more fun than training for the sake of it. No need to spend a fortune either, just pick the right destinations, making sure they are spectator friendly (my good lady refused to go to Blackpool or Sunderland!!). So this year, rather than build up for one in spring and one in autumn, I went for six.
1. Manchester in April: A great flat course. Well organised. Great atmosphere. Plenty of Harriers and other local runners there running and supporting. Fast becoming the race to do if rejected from London. A PB on both occasions I’ve ran it. This year in just over 3:30.
2. Prague in May: Regardless of the race, a beautiful city and some awesome Pilsner. Stayed over for 5 days after! A great course, starting in Old Town Square to the sounds of Dvorak. Vests from all over the world. Great flat course crossing over the River Vltava and round the sights of the city. Highly recommend it. Would have been a PB….3:32 for 26.5 miles. Gah!
3. Edinburgh in May: Big thanks to Rich Rex from CoH, a prize from his 10 in 10 fund raffle. Another great city to visit, especially the days after the race. As for the race, it’s a great start in the city and then it heads out to the coast and finishes near Musselburgh racecourse. A very windy day, including head wind for the last 7 miles didn’t help. Not the best race organisation, and not too good for spectators either. In the right conditions, good chance for a fast run. Happy with a 3:39.
4. Halifax Marathon in August: A Beast. Low key race. Organised by runners. A beer festival on site after the race. Halifax is a jewel in Yorkshire’s crown, beautiful scenery and a great place to visit. What could go wrong? Great to see fellow Harriers Dr Danny and James P (top 10 finishers!), and Dan N and James G. If you fancy a hilly road marathon with amazing views and a great atmosphere before and after the race, this is it. Only a small field (82 finishers), so can get lonely out there. Made a few friends out there too. 4:14. Can’t go sub 4 every time!
5. Hull Marathon in September: What more can I add to the reviews. Amazing. Everything turned out nice. Completely made up for 2012. Great support around the course, including the EHH water station at 1 mile and 6 miles, and all the other local friendly stations. Great to see and share encouragement with the relay runners and see so many friendly faces on the course. Uplifting. Happy with a holiday filled food and drink belly 3:40.
6. Chester Marathon in October: I chose to enter this instead of the JT Yorkshire Marathon, which I’d ran and in the previous 2 years (The long road and turnaround from 15 to 20 miles killed me, man!). A cool day turned into a scorcher. A cracking course, not as flat as advertised, but great scenery, clockwork timing on the drink and fuel stops. The best organised race, apart from ours, I’ve entered so far. From entry to parking to racing to finishing. Top marks. Marathons are all about learning….Pace, preparation; personal targets etc …Lesson to learn from this one: Respect the weather and dehydration the night before a marathon…Quite happy with 3:47. Bring on the next one, trail, road, hill or flat.
So, why run a marathon? Why not? If you don’t get into London as Good for Age, Elite, or through the ballot, there are plenty of other amazing places to be just as daft for 26.2 miles.
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