I’ve been training for this for 18 weeks, and I’ll write more elsewhere about how I did and lessons I learned. Suffice to say, it was a fantastic race.
I looked long and hard for my first marathon. I didn’t want something too huge, with 20,000 runners and a claustrophobic start line stinking of deep heat and over confidence. And this one looked pretty close to the sort of terrain I like training in (when I’m running on the road at all … my preference is still trail running): country lanes, little villages, and an undulating course. I like hills. Flat is boring.
Turned out it was a perfect choice. The organisation was superb, from an easy and quick registration, to plenty of changing space, secure bag storage, and many marshals and helpers there to aid from even before the start. A quick race briefly included congratulations for two people running their 100th marathon (100 … marathons … a hundred … eh?). And then we were off.
The route was beautiful. It consisted 95% country lanes, but they were all relatively quiet, and passed through some gorgeous countryside. Supporters were few and far between, but when we did pass by they were extremely vocal and encouraging. That was a real boost, as were the equally enthusiastic marshals. Having water stops every three miles is excellent, and some of them were also serving cola, orange juice, jelly babies, and fruit. Splendid.
I struggled quite a bit over the last half with legs cramps (first time ever… very frustrating, and I’ll write more about that another time, too), and it was really nice being offered a square of chocolate by a bloke standing on his own by the side of the road. He saw me struggling, reached into his bag, and brought out a Yorkie. Top notch.
I ran the last three miles with another first-timer who was also struggling a bit, and we got each other to the end.
FINISH, the sign said. I was one happy Tim. A medal, a tee shirt (really nice design on a tech tee), and a plastic cup of very splendid ale … all very welcome, and bloody well deserved. And a mini-bus back to the race base was very well received too.
I can’t say enough about how well organised and run this race was. Friendly organisers and equally friendly runners made it a day to remember. Oh, as well as the fact I ran my first marathon in 4:30 (was aiming for 4:00 … the wheels came off just a little bit).
Three days later and I’m feeling good. And definitely ready to sign up for this one again next year. The roads of North Dorset and I have unfinished business.