The Further Adventures of Mad Mary
Hello happy readers. Read on if you want a good giggle but, if you are after more serious stuff, ignore this article and go on to the others.
Although it is now some time ago, I will begin with this year’s Hull Marathon. Much earlier in the year, having already done the first Hull Marathon, after Lucas reintroduced it, in 5 hours 52 minutes, I decided to try the new route and booked a place. I gave an estimated time of under 6 hours – the qualifying time in the London Marathon for ‘fast for your age’ in the over 70 class – I thought this was reasonable. Hopefully I could achieve this if the weather was not too hot and the shattered ankle did not mind a hard surface underfoot for that distance.
Silly me, although the forecast sounded good, in reality the temperatures were up in the high 70s and there was no cooling breeze. Shucks. What was more, I had my own, personal time recorder by way of a nice young man on a bike, who radioed into base every mile to check my time against one for under six hours. I would rather not have known that but he was so pleasant that I had not the heart to tell him to shut up.
All went reasonably well until the half-marathon point, where my keeper told me to be sure to stand on the ridge to get a time. At the fourteen mile drink station, however, disaster struck. My keeper told me that I had been ‘timed out’ at 3 hours and four minutes at the half-way stage. ‘What’, said Mad Mary, surely if I have paid for my marathon and am in with a good chance of an over 70 prize, I can go one’. ‘Yes’, he replied, ‘but you will be non-competitive’, as the roads will be open again by the time you get to East Park’. Grrr. I had even dragged the poor body at full tilt on the timed 100m in Costello and now it was all for nought. Previously shattered ankle was becoming whingey as well, so I threw in the towel and accepted a lift back to East Park and the finish.
Even then, the ride back was not without its own adventure as we had to pick up a guy, from the Siemens drink station, who was suffering from hyperthermia – heat exhaustion to the uninitiated. This poor guy spent most of the way back puking out the window and then we were dropped off at the Holderness Road entrance. I walked with him part way back to the finish when he lay down and refused help and stated he would go on when he felt like it. Got back to the finish and they were reluctant to give me my t-shirt and medal – even though I had completed the half-marathon stage. I did acquire a t-shirt in the end but no medal – shame because it was a good one with the Three Ships mural on it.
After that, undaunted, I managed to get a transferred place to the Snowdonia Marathon. This would be my ninth one, with a PB some twenty years ago of 4 hours 8 minutes. Did not expect to get anywhere near that time this year, as it has 2000ft of climb in it, which the blurb stated made it nearly 30 miles long, instead of the 26 miles odd. Had always wanted to do ten of them, as it is my favourite marathon by far, but no longer could you enter the night before, instead having to enter as soon as it was advertised on 1st January and it was full by 2nd January.
Even better news was that my good friends Chris and Paul – who have a wonderful cottage high up on the Nantly ridge with views across to Anglesey and the Menai Straits – were able to put me up from Friday night until Monday morning. Silly people assumed I would not want to have anything alcoholic on Friday night – the marathon is now on the Saturday and not the Sunday. Soon corrected that and sampled their home-made cider, as well as a little red wine.
Saturday dawned wet and quite windy but so much better than being too hot. Also I knew Matty and Jan Suddaby were entered – sorry Paul, did not know beforehand you were doing it as well. Did not quite manage to get to top of Llanberis Pass without having to fast walk but enjoyed the way back down on the old road, which was a good, hard-surfaced track now. Along the lake sides to Beddgelert and the half-way stage at about 3 hours fifteen minutes. Then it was up the next two miles on a steady climb – always my least favourite part of the route – and did more fast walking than running. Trying to catch up a 79 year-old woman speed walking with a walking pole but did not manage it. At Waen Fawr you turn right and another steady slog up the road and then track to the top of the ridge – a 700ft climb in all. Worth it though to be greeted at the last drinks station by the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in full costume and face painting – there were even jam tarts to eat and they made me a cup of coffee instead of the tea on offer, as I cannot stand tea.
Lost a lot of time on the steep, two-mile downhill back into Llanberis and the finish as it was a rough track with rocks, slippery grass, mud and water. Definitely wary now of steep, off-road downhill when shattered ankle and rest of left leg go into panic mode. Worth seeing the top men, on S4C on Sunday evening, coming down the 700ft as they were performing superb acrobatics on the mud on their way down. Best bit at the finish – in 7 hours 16 minutes chip time – was seeing not only my friend Chris but also Matty and Ali who had come back up from their digs to see me finish. A great time in all and even managed a three-mile cross-country walk with Chris, Paul and the two dogs on the Sunday – and, of course, a little more cider and wine.
Did not do so well on first night-orienteering the next Saturday evening – can’t think why that was the case – but did better on the Sunday at Skipwith Common – flat and wet.
Finally did Dalby Dash again on 10th November. Previous PB was 63 minutes but think I must be getting older and, perhaps, slower, although would never admit to that. It was beautiful weather and, as always, an excellent course and race overall. Quite pleased to finish in 72 minutes but bit narked, though, as had nipped and tucked all the way round with another woman, who beat me in by a minute and a half. It turned out that she was also a FV70 but at least the first FV70 was some six minutes ahead and, perhaps, had not done the Snowdonia Marathon a couple of weeks before. Finished with a great catch-up chat with Sarah Bilton and very good to see Darran again.