The Hull Marathon 2017
This training block had been the most sustained I’d done,constant high mileage and regular workouts on fatigued legs, strength work,speed work and recovery all melted together and topped off with a diet that had left me the lightest since I was a teenager meant I was in the best shape of my life going into this race.
I’d ran a big pb at major stone three weeks before and backed it up with a solid tempo run two days later so knew my conditioning was there, yet when I had raced a track 5k the previous weekend my top end speed felt forced and I was 13 seconds slower than my previous best although it was a solo run. Still, I full expected to better my 2:35 from London as I lined up outside the KCOM stadium in the warm September sun. There was quality all over the front of the start line, even with the absence of last years winner who had mysteriously not turned up . At least 7 guys who had gone under 2:40 including previous winner Phill Taylor who’d broken 2:30 before and Mike Hargreaves who I’d done plenty of training with and I knew was in good shape and probably the favourite. This was probably the strongest line up since the good old days when everyone ran 100 mile weeks on a diet of fish and chips and bitter and raced twice a week and never ran under 6 minutes mile pace.
Anyway, I’m rambling.So,the solitary wheelchair racer got off and the bee lady counted us down. We started at an easy pace , out the stadium , over the footbridge round the back of the hospital and into town.
Now, this years edition of the race was winding and several sharp turns later , across the cobbles, nearly missing zebedees yard, through the old town down to the deep. The pace had quickened and Mike had already pulled away and after Phill and Runaer had missed a turn I was in second place. The pace was a bit quicker than the planned 5:50s but,as you do, you roll with it cos it feels good.
Along the river front into a breeze and up through Victoria dock, Newbridge rd and onto holderness rd. Ben from Barton had passed me by this point after a sensible first 4 miles easing himself in and took off after Mike.
We entered the park and myself,Phill and our Nowegian white city representative Runaer followed the course out and onto James reckitt avenue then dansom lane south. Phill had overtaken me and as expected was starting to put a little ground on me. I thought Runaer would do the same but he seemed happy tucked in and we took it in tuns to share the pace back through town , down to the marina ( more winding turns and cobbles) and onto the dockside.
Going through mile 11 the time was bang on what I wanted and as we made our way up onto hessle rd I was feeling on the edge of my comfort zone.
The half way point was pickering park and going through in 1:16:24 was perfect, the support along the whole course was amazing, definitely the best in the three years I’ve ran the race, but at the changeover points in the parks it was extra special, familiar faces and happy spectators cheered us on and as we pushed onto boothferry rd I knew that now was the time to relax a little, not force the pace too much and save some beans for the run home.
The pace slowed. Phill stretched out his lead. By the top of boothferry rd at the bridge I had a stitch, Phill had about 50m on me and I’d dropped Runaer, I was frantically trying to stay in touch with Phill over the bridge , fully knowing that the last 2.5 miles had cost me some time that I wasn’t getting back.
Round and under the bridge and back on and up again, where was the tail wind I was looking forward too on the return? Damn it was getting warm! Back over the bridge and Phill wasn’t getting any further away, in fact he was coming back.
Back on to boothferry rd and my last mile at target pace, the support here was fantastic, with the other runners on the opposite side giving encouragement at a time when it’s starting to get tough really helps keep the mind focused. As I drew level with Phill he gave me some encouragement and I pushed on looking for second place but not seeing anyone. Round Costello track and out I had about a minute on 4th, he wasn’t going to catch me , I wasn’t catching 2nd , I wasn’t going to get a PB, so I decided not to kill myself and settled in for the last couple of miles.
With 800m to go I decided to get a move on and get finished and picked it up again, entering west park and looking for the stadium. On entering the stadium I was gutted to see I had to run all the way around it to get to the finish, but was lifted to hear my family shouting and it felt great high fiving my boys and nieces in the way to the finish line!
At first I was disappointed I didn’t get the time I wanted, but as the reality of how much slower the Hull course is to London sank in and I realised it was only a minute and half slower, I realised this was a much better effort and went to the bar for a beer.
Overall this was a tough race to run well and congratulations to Ben who won after catching Mike with 2 miles to go then putting a minute on him.He’ll be happy with a good time and well paced race, surely a sub 2:30 for him next year at a spring marathon of his choice.
Strong performance all across the board from Harriers, with various age group wins and relay wins, all in all an epic day!!