The New Forest Running Events is a long established series now held at Brockenhurst show ground (it used to in Lymington) with events ranging from the Woodland Walk up to the marathon and including childrens run, 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon.
OS Runners was well turned out for these races, with lots of us running various distances;
10km – Rob Crocker, Ian Painter, Julia Painter and Claire Loon
Half Marathon – Karen Connell, Ian Smith (with son George) Sue Stileman, Charlie Adams and Kate Robinson
Marathon – Ian Robinson, Jon Reed Beviere, Matt Pillinger and Naomi Stanley (Jon and Naomi both debuting the marathon distance and Ian returning after a 28 year absence).
The day started relatively cool, although there was a brisk south westerly wind and the forecast was that it would warm up later, which it definitely did. All courses are run on a mix of tarmac and forest trails, of varying quality and are reasonably hilly, especially the marathon which seems to have 5km of climbing from about 26k to 31k, which is most marathon runners will tell you, is when the toll on your legs gets tough anyway.
The marathoners started at 9:00, with the other races starting (& finishing) in the time we were on course, but our club mates were kind enough to stay around to support us in finishing.
Overall, lots of really good performances on a hot day, with PB’s from Sue (by 8 minutes), Charlie (6 minutes) and Karen (more sensible, 7 seconds) on the half and Ian (by around 25 minutes, although his last marathon was so long ago, the hazy memory means he can’t remember if the old PB was just under, or just over, 4 hours).
Anyway, now to hear from some of the runners;
It was an excellent event, well organised and a great atmosphere. It was my second ever running event (my first being the Bournemouth Marathon last year) so seeing a few friendly OS faces around helped to make me feel more at ease.
I hate stones. I still have the monotonous sound of hundreds of people running on stony paths in my head. At least having to focus on dodging big stones and divots kept my mind busy for a few miles. I did eventually turn my ankle on a stone around mile 10, but I was too into it to let it slow me down (hurts a bit now though).
The bragging bit…
I smashed my PB @ 1:49:32 (previous PB of 1:55 was set 3 weeks earlier in training)
From mile 7 I opened up and started to run past runners in front of me as ‘mini goals’ to keep me focused; I think I ran past upwards of 100 people.
My last 3 miles were my quickest by about 30 seconds a mile.
My last mile was my fastest! I even had some left to sprint over the finish line.
Ian Smith ran with his 17 yr old son, whose previous longest race was a 10k, he’d not trained, did a 9.6 mile run 2 wks before and when challenged by his Father about the lack of preparation responded ‘ How difficult can it be? Just got to keep putting one foot in front of the other’……………….. Maybe he has a point……. Pre race fuel, Chicken jalfrezi, 4 onion bhajis, washed down with a pint of Heineken
Edit – Ian mentioned to me later, that George got home, ate his own bodyweight in food and then went for a nap at 3:30, waking up on Monday morning ….
I’d entered the New Forest half marathon as a training run for Chester so wasn’t anticipating doing anything more than banking the miles. It took me a while to warm up and get into my stride and it wasn’t until mile eight that I started to feel comfortable. The gravel tracks definitely made it harder and it was a relief every time we hit a bit of road! By mile nine my km times had started to improve and I was feeling happier. I reached mile ten at 1:30 and realised I was in with a chance of improving my 2:02 PB at Portishead last year. This course was flatter but the uneven ground conditions underfoot made it hard work. The last three miles went by in a blur and by the time we turned back into New Park I was hanging on for dear life. I’d no idea what the time was by that point, I just knew I’d run as fast as I could. I was thrilled (and more than a bit astonished) to see my watch saying 1:54 as I crossed the line, a new PB by 8 minutes. It was lovely to catch up with the other OS runners at the finish- huge congrats to all of them on their race achievements.
A final dash to the loo. Good luck wishes exchanged with team mates and into the enclosure for the warm up, with a hyper DJ, pumping music and a drone filming overhead. Then shuffle towards the start line in our group. A shout out of good luck from the Stilemans. A countdown by the DJ on the start/finish bridge and we’re off, crossing the start mat, crowds cheering. A sluggish start, down the green turning onto a narrow track (which soon became as congested as the M27) and into the woods. Done a mile already. Cool. Surprised to see many runners shoot off into the bushes (or not in some cases) so soon for a Jimmy Riddle. And come on guys – didn’t you check your laces before the start? Mile 2 and everything hunky dory. This is quite pleasant. A comfortable pace in the cool of the trees. Taking time at water stations to make sure it goes in not on me, especially the sticky energy drink. Don’t fancy being chased by wasps for the next 20 odd miles. The marshals are cheery and encouraging. Fellow runners chatty and upbeat.
Out of the woods at 8½ miles and onto the open heath. Still cool, the weather dry and dull with a soft breeze. On the fringes of Brockenhurst and crowds of well-wishers and little people giving high fives (low fives in my case) and sweets. Started loading with jelly babies – food of champions. The sun came out during the steady climb from Brockenhurst to Sway (12 – 13 mile points) making it warm work. Through Sway I notice I’m overtaking a lot of runners. Check my pace. No, it’s fine. Oh, more jelly babies. Thank you. Back into the shade of Set Thorns Inclosure then onto the dismantled railway line where I was given an enthusiastic cheer by Dave Tucker (Field Service Delivery Manager) loitering in the hedgerow. Great to see him but what’s he doing here? Notorious for his awful jokes and puns, I speed away before he starts telling any. Through Wootton Coppice and the only boggy part of the course before going under the road and into Wilverley Inclosure. Having done parkruns here I knew what was coming. Make the most of this downhill guys because there’s a killer uphill coming next. That’s the one. Most are walking it. Got to keep powering up. Remember the MA hill training. Push. Push. Push.
And then I’m out at the 20 mile mark, a water station and more jelly babies (don’t mind if I do). On the Burley Road across Hincheslea Moor a lot more begin to flag. I try to chivvy them on but become aware my pace has changed, from steady strides to short steps. At the edge of Brockenhurst with 3 miles to go I start to feel my leg muscles tighten. Really tighten. This could go disastrously wrong. Must stay strong. Must stay strong. The courses are converging now, with lots of runners, er walking. Get past them. Get past them. And then through the trees you see the race village and the finish line. Back along the narrow track (not so congested now) through a gap in the fence and into the final straight, with crowds cheering and the announcer’s PA booming out. Hell’s teeth! Are they moving that finish line further away? C’moan! And then I’m over the mats, remember to stop my watch and slow down to a walk and then a stumble. It’s over.
Funnelled away from the course, a cadet hangs around my neck a medal which feels like a manhole cover. That’s some serious bling. A goody bag is thrust in my hand containing bits and pieces – but no banana. Whoa! WTF!!! It’s stipulated in the race brochure. They are obligatory at any event. I’ve ran 26 and a bit miles and no cockin’ banana. Bloody cod liver oil capsules instead. What’s that about? What a rip.
A wave of fatigue hits me now and I’m feeling tired and cold – it’s become overcast. My skin feels dry and gritty. What’s this long queue? Oh, bag collection. And the end is thadaway. Oh. While hobbling in the line my daughter, Kate (she did the half) runs up, smiling and gives me a hug. I’ve not had one of those in a long time. That alone made the whole thing worth doing. We collect our gear, treat ourselves to a cuppa and join Karen and Sue at the fence to cheer the others in. The sun comes back out. It’s turning into a really nice day.
Mid flight, travelling back from Malta, I realised I could be tempted by a marathon. This was predominately due to Ryanair forcing me to sit next to Matt Pillinger. After departing Bournemouth airport, I knew I was probably to far in to back out. No places had been booked, no particular marathon had been selected, but the cogs in my brain were already whirring away that this could be a possibility.
Somehow in the next few weeks, the New Forest marathon was chosen, and Matt (for getting me in this situation) agreed to train and run with me on the day.
I have done quite a few half marathons, so knew at least that 13.1 miles physically possible – the rest was unknown. Training started, and the long runs became part of my standard Saturday. Often meaning waking up early, driving to a designated rendevouz point, meeting Matt and running to a parkrun, doing the parkrun, then continuing on. I liked this as it meant a bit of variety in the routes, some parkrun tourism and the fact it was usually over by midday. This became all the more crucial as the UK basked in the hottest summer (I was secretly hoping for an arctic blast).
Still, with all the miles under my belt and no injuries, I was feeling as ready as I was ever going to be. Not quite in marathon mindset I enjoyed the tapering and the carb loading far too much…
With a lasagne and garlic bread feast in Brockenhurst the night before, the big day was finally looming. Plenty of cloud cover greeted us as we set off at 9am. Jon R-B and Ian Robinson were also in the marathon start line. Karen, my Rob and Ian’s daughter Kate waved us off with surprise cheers from Sue and Mark Stileman and Charlie Adams.
The first 16 miles were actually rather enjoyable. We chatted to people, admired the ponies and amazing scenery and I even ran up the hill to Sway – marking the half way point. My fuel strategy of a bag of crisps, drumstick squashies and jelly babies seemed to be doing the trick and Matt was well trained to fill up my water bottle at each drinks stop.
I could have quite happily stopped there. And for any budding marathon runners – I advise you to stop reading now…….
The last 10 miles were painful. My body and my brain wanted me to stop. I was reduced to a shuffle, everything from the hip down ached and I was pretty tempted to sit down and have a good old sob. But Matt was there to keep me going, and we adopted a new strategy of run/walking which saw me through to the finish line in 5:22:25. I had done it – I had run a marathon.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Karen, Rob, Jon, Ian, Kate and Sue – who all waited HOURS for me at the finish – THANK YOU!
To all the people who sent me messages and words of encouragement in the days leading up to the marathon – THANK YOU – you have no idea how these kept me going when things were feeling pretty bleak. To everyone who sponsored me to complete the challenge and donated to a charity which means something to me – THANK YOU. And last, but by no means least, THANK YOU to Matt P who didn’t let me give up and made me a marathon runner.
As Naomi says, she was basically bullied into this by me on the flight back from Malta – the opportunity to run a marathon with a good friend was one I couldn’t resist and doing our long training runs together, interspersed with parkrun tourism made it a great summer.
We had a target pace in mind and all was going well until we got past Sway, then it started to get tough, but Naomi dug in mentally and physically for a few miles until she had no more physical left and it was all mental strength – I could see she was in huge pain and would do anything I could to help, but really its all about her mind over matter determination, which it turns out is really strong. Around 20 miles I developed a walk 0.1 miles, run 0.4 miles strategy to break it up into segments and big kudos to her, she stuck to it all the way to the finish line.
Having run several marathons now, I have to say, big respect to anyone who runs a 5 hour marathon – it was harder for me than a sub 4 and runners who achieve those times are running at their limit for longer than the speedy runners, while dealing with the physical toll on your ankles, knees and hips for longer too.
Jon summing up marathon running pretty well
If you are inspired by these stories, the races are already open for next year and with early bird discounts until 30 September, why not get entered https://www.entryhub.co.uk/2019-new-forest?_ga=2.44413540.17103058.1536578124-1151580247.1520411295