Well, here we go again… an attempt to write a race review.  I always struggle to write reviews because everything is a blur.

On this occasion however, nothing is a blur. I wasn’t moving fast enough for anything to blur.
When people have asked me how I got on, I have told them my time and then felt compelled to inform them just how hilly it was. It was really very hilly!

It was my slowest ever marathon at 05:35:58

I know. But it was really very hilly.

   
   When I ran a similar time at London in 2005 I was very disappointed. I think if this had been a flat marathon, I would have also been disappointed and would be considering hanging up my marathon shoes.

  
But it wasn’t a flat marathon. It was really very hilly. This wasn’t a surprise – I wanted to do a tough marathon and I got that. I paced myself well over the first half (I thought) keeping things very steady and hitting the half-marathon distance at 02:15:00. At the recent Ashby 20 road race, I covered the 20 miles in 3 hours 5 minutes, passing the half marathon mark at 01:52:38

So slowing this up by over 20 minutes was a good thing, I thought. But those hills took more out of me than I knew. Not just the ups… but the downs too. They were too steep to run down. Every step was braking, (maybe breaking) and pounding the joints, and over-working my poor quadriceps.

   
   (The photos never convey steepness, do they? I’m taking a spirit level next time*) 

*as if there would be a ‘next time’!

Having done these hills once already, I had resigned myself to not actually ‘running’ at times and it was nice to have that ‘do I?/don’t I? run’ question completely removed from my psychology. There was no choice. At least the views were good…

  (That was actually taken at mile 14 of the two-lap course)
I passed mile 19 (and a nicely decked out ‘nutrition’ station) at approximately 3:45 and a sub-five hour marathon seemed likely…  

 

…but MAJOR cramps kicked in at mile 23 and I literally could not move for over 5 minutes each time it happened (as well as being in serious pain).  Things didn’t look so pretty now…

  
The clock kept ticking. I was walking now and every occasional attempt to resume running ultimately stopped me in my tracks as the cramping hit once more. I had experienced this during a Nottingham marathon that I hadn’t really trained for, and it is not fun. I had said after that one that I never wanted to run for over five hours again. I stand by that. I don’t.

On my first lap there had been a chap pressure washing the war memorial as we passed mile 12ish… I enjoyed a little refreshing shower at the time and took this photo looking back on it… 

 

The workman was no longer there by the second lap (unsurprisingly).  It would have felt even better at that point BUT was probably for the best as I was later informed it would have been a water/bleach mix anyway!

So… Yeah, a particularly slow final few miles but despite the slow time, I was pleased to complete it. 

  (Final straight)
And in terms of ‘placing’ this is likely to be my best marathon ever… 44th!

Ok… Only 86 had entered, and they didn’t all complete it…but still. Top 50 finisher 😊 !

  (Post-marathon nutrition)

This wasn’t a big marathon in terms of numbers and it very much had the feel of a local club-run event. 

Signage could have been a little better in places (mile 10 / mile 23 for example) where my lovely wife ran after a runner or two to redirect those who had missed a turning…. They don’t know how priviliged they are – my wife very rarely runs (though she did join me for the odd minute or two for support along the way – I am also very honoured).

Water stations only had bins right next to them, so if you wanted to appropriately dispose of your cup you couldn’t run and drink.

There was no goody bag to speak of at the end, but there was a technical T- shirt, and unfortunately my medal said ‘HALF marathon finisher’ on the ribbon (look carefully at the beer photo again). They did apologise for that – I don’t do it for the bling anyway.

I did do the full. I promise. I have a million strava segment PRs to prove it (and an equal number of ‘second best’ times for the repeat lap!).

It was very good value for money though. And very friendly.

Of course the people were great  – runners, marshals, supporters (particularly my my own personal support – the actual present one and my virtual ones – thank you), and in all it was a good day. I can say I enjoyed it. A few quid was also raised for my local charity.

So… Did I achieve my goals?  
Well…  three out of four ain’t bad!
Good luck to you if you are marathoning soon!  I might be back.

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Comments
  1. dgobs says:

    Holy hills, Batman! Congratulations on finishing, and achieving your goals despite the insane hills and resulting pain!

  2. RubySneakers says:

    Oh the dreaded hills! Congrats, and I hope you enjoyed that well-deserved beer.

  3. Michael Tinker says:

    just read your blog and i am returning to marathons after a few years and always wanted to do Huddersfield as my father did the old one in the early 1990s with this one i have done the half so i will be taking it steady with my training allready up to 22.2 miles non stop and i live in saddleworth

  4. Michael Tinker says:

    had a good training run the other week got 23 miles non stop in 3h35 i have a GPS watch going to try to beat it tommorrow

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