Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon December 18th 2016


Useful links:

Steve’s 20 in 12 months Virgin Money website:  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/20Marathons2016

Marathon website: http://www.fitprorob.biz/portsmouth-coastal-waterside-marathon-2015/


Medal: Yes. Huge.

T-shirt: Yes. Sizes are large

Goody bag: pretty good, a wide range of drinks and snacks

  • Strawberry, banana and chocolate milkshake
  • Cold pressed coffee
  • Beer – in pints and take away boxes
  • Water
  • Clif bars, nuts, rainbow drops, cough sweets, granola bar

Aid stations

Water, shot blox, nuts, mince pies, mulled wine, jaffa cakes, chocolate…

  • Each mile marker commemorated a person who has died this year. From Caroline Aherne to David Bowie.


Route: an out and back along the Portsmouth Waterside. The turnaround point is almost exactly half way.  There is a 3 hour cut off for the first half to avoid high tide. We were well within that but didn’t hear of the people behind us being stopped. We definitely were re-routed slightly on the way back to avoid the now underwater beach.

This was a special race. My friend Steve has spent this year running marathons in memory of his wife, Sharon, after her death from cancer last year. He ran 20 marathons to raise money for three charities which supported him throughout – The Loss Charity, Cancer Charity and Firefighter’s Charity, as he is a firefighter.


Portsmouth is the last of the challenge and is extra special because it’s a home town race. We are fortunate enough to belong to the BCRC – a tightknit, wonderful group of people who have been brought together through a love of running, and cemented long lasting friendships as well. We in the BCRC hatched a plan earlier this year to make sure that Steve had as many of us at the last one as possible (as well as joining him for the others too, of course). This plan involved many white lies and secrets, including some of our members travelling from America and Holland, as well as those ‘just around the corner’ having to pretend they weren’t available that weekend. That was the hard part. Telling our friend that we couldn’t make it, ignoring the invite, talking about it like we would be there in spirit but, hey, sorry but we’re all just too darn busy with our families.

It made it all the sweeter to see his expression when he walked into the pasta restaurant on Saturday night to be met with 45 smiling faces, rather than the five he had expected.

After a happy meal (and, uncharacteristically for me, a couple of beers before the race) we all said our goodnights and walked back to the hotel. We stayed at the Premier Inn in Southsea. Within walking distance of the start line and the shopping centre of Portsmouth, the staff were very friendly. The hotel itself was a bit rundown but there was a covered car park which is free for guests, and the beds were comfy too.

A sea of green for Steve at the start line. Photo credit to the brill Karen Sweeting

The morning started with the usual pre race ritual of porridge as well as a kit check. I know plenty of people wore trail shoes for this race as it’s mostly off road. I chose to wear my old road shoes and they were fine – we didn’t break any land speed records so comfier was higher on my agenda than grip at high speeds! We gathered at the start line – The Pyramid Centre – from about 8.20am, with the race start at 9. Toilets were fine although the queues were long, as always. The atmosphere was relaxed though, and I had a nice chat with a lady about the races we’re doing next year.


We were called out just before the start time of 9am, and walked along to the start line. Before we knew it, the gun went off, the piper piped and we were running!

My plan was to take it steady and enjoy as much as I could. Training in the second half of this year has been really hard – my heart and mind weren’t in it and I had a couple of races that I had panic attacks in the middle of. I hyperventilated and had to stop before slowly carrying on and finishing. I took October off and have been gently easing back in, but that meant that I hadn’t run longer than 16M since September.  I managed 100miles in November which was surprisingly difficult given that I usually run 30-40 miles a week, but that shows how important it was for me to rest.

I recommend a good rest after a three-four month block of marathon training. I know people who can bounce back and run after three or four days following a marathon, but I felt that my recovery just isn’t up to that, and I was getting slower and more demotivated after each race.  I will write about my goals for 2016 in another post – more later!

Turnaround point! Photo credit to the lovely Abi @ARBettle

Turnaround point! Photo credit to the lovely Abi @ARBettle

So the Portsmouth marathon. I started out at a good pace, around 10min/mil. I’m pleased that I managed to maintain around that pace until well over halfway – probably about mile 15. We walked/ran from there and although the walk breaks got longer and the running pace went down, I still had fun and enjoyed spending time with friends I normally only speak to online. We eventually crossed the line in 5hr 13 – the last mile felt absolutely neverending! It’s a long stretch back along the sea front and it’s down a little dip, so you can’t see the gantry until you’re nearly there. Our garmins were slightly long (26.6miles) as we were re-routed around the tides.

Kisses for the finish line – photo credit to the wonderful Susannah MacNeill

I recommend the race  – the aid stations were well manned and stocked, the goody bags were delightfully stocked and that medal. Well, you could do some serious damage with that!


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