Saturday 28th June 2014
Marathon number 5
I was worried about this race. I’ve been plagued with hayfever/cold/cough/general rundownness since Paris marathon in April and haven’t been able to run more than 16 miles. Having seen the elevation and been assured that it was not a misprint, I was anxious that I wouldn’t complete it.
My aim was to complete it within the cut off time of 8hours, 8 minutes and 9 seconds and as a couple of friends were the sweepers, I knew I was in trouble if I saw them!
So the race starts at 8:30am in a small village called Sydling St Nicholas, about fifteen minutes’ drive from Dorchester. I stayed with my brother in Blandford (about forty minutes away) for a couple of days before, which was good as it broke the drive up a bit.
We set off about 6:30 on Saturday morning, praying for sun as the forecast was rain. It was grey but quite humid.
We found the race HQ very easily as it was really well signposted. We parked in the ‘Athlete’s Village’ as I was camping that night.
The whole series of races from White Star Running has a great sense of humour – the only thing taken seriously is making sure the runners are safe and well.
Food, water, beer, ice cream, free massages, free photos, camping for a small amount of money (£5 for two nights per tent), toilets and showers were all plentiful.
At 8:20am sharp we had the pre race briefing. It was such a small field (300 ish) that Andy, the RD, knew most people by name and made sure that the achievements were well known – the man who’s running 367 marathons this year (in a kilt), the Irish 100 marathon contingent, the pope and the smurf. He also warned us that the race would be started with a shotgun and would be extremely loud – he wasn’t wrong!
With the smoke clearing and the ringing in our ears, we were off! Until we hit the first hill, about three minutes in, when everyone started walking.
I was running with my friends from the RW forum and we’d decided that we would have fun – the sun was shining and we had a ruddy lot of hills to conquer!
The route was hilly and uneven in places as it’s 98% off road, but it was beautiful and definitely worth it. The water stations were regular and stocked with ‘real people’ food like watermelon, peanuts, crisps, cakes and biscuits. We even had a vodka shot at one water station! The lovestation at mile 20 was the biggest of the aid stations and came with free hugs from the marshalls, a fantastic boost in what was then, five and a half hours in for us.
The finish was in sight after one last, loooooong hill up and a sharp descent. We’d picked up a couple of lone runners on the way and made sure they were alright. I think at this point we got the neat rum out too.
We ran the last couple of kilometres together, crossing the line in 7hours and 15 minutes. My brother had finished in a very impressive 5 hours and 18 minutes – he hadn’t done any long distance training and had even had a chest infection which mean he had to use inhalers in the last month.
No goody bag filled with rubbish – instead we had a medal, a pint glass and a proper technical tshirt. Every single person was absolutely lovely and for the first time in many races, it felt like the participants were there to enjoy it and not just provide money to the organisers.
It may have been over 3 hours slower than my Paris marathon in April, but my fifth marathon was my most enjoyable. I even felt good enough to drive home that day, so I got to sleep in my own bed and spend Sunday on the couch!
The next running event is a half/20 mile/full in March next year, called the Larmer. I am signing up for the full – it’ll be a bit chilly but will definitely be fun!
Entry and more about WSR here: http://www.whitestarrunning.co.uk/index.php
my garmin trace: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/530375404
| Photo credits| 1 and 2: Running Richard| 3 Vixxy| 4 Dave W| Thank you for the brilliant pics!|