OSR’s were taking part in 4 different races across central south England on the 7 October, so here is one mega roundup;
Clarendon marathon was my 3rd marathon in the last 13 months, and definitely my toughest to date. As a notoriously hilly, cross country race I was not aiming for my marathon PB, I’d just set a target of sub-4 and wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of pacing a marathon sensibly by myself (having previously relied on Matt P for pacing).
The bus from Winchester to the start in Salisbury seemed like the longest bus journey in the world, and the bus, packed full of carb-loaded runners was seriously struggling on the hills (an indication of what was to come). It was a beautiful day to be running through the countryside and I tried to avoid looking at my watch and ran to how I felt. The first half was pretty hilly but I’d been told that was the easy half, so knew I had to save something in the tank for later.
Always smiling 🙂
Seeing Kat and Tom with 6 miles to go was a great boost as support on the route had been sparse and I wasn’t expecting them there at all. Then a mile later my mum, dad and Stanley were there spurring me on even more. As I rounded the corner into my destination, King’s School in Winchester, I spotted Matt K cheering me in with his medal on. I was so glad and impressed that he’d completed the race safely, defying injury, illness and absolutely no marathon training!! I don’t know how he does it!! As I neared the finish line I spotted Stanley at the side, there was no danger of being in a fight for a last minute podium position so Stanley rushed on and crossed the line with me (putting in a fairly decent sprint himself). I crossed the line at 3:57:12, 5th place woman and 1st woman under 40 so I was pretty chuffed, my 3rd sub-4 marathon and I still haven’t met that wall that people bang on about (I’m beginning to think it’s made up!).
Karen had to sprint the last bit to avoid being beaten by Stanley!
You guess its going to be a toughie by the way the bus taking you from Winchester to Salisbury struggled up some of the hills. But everyone was in a jovial mood and the weather was perfect for running. The previous day’s heavy rain hadn’t affected the course’s condition one iota. Our own Iron Man Nick Lindsay helped set it out. Did he get the memo about the OS Runners only route?
A 10:30 start, Karen, Matt (King) and me join the other runners on the sports field and off, jostling for position through the lanes and streets of Laverstock then turning east into the countryside and onto the Clarendon Way LDP. Along farm tracks, bridle paths, woodland trails, dropping into the villages of Pitton and Winterslow (which seemed to take forever to get through) then climbing the Downs. The course is well marshalled and volunteers at water stations dole out jelly beans.
Into Broughton and a wave from John Kimmance, marshalling at the point where the full meets the half marathoners. More runners now with fresher legs tempting you to speed up. Got to keep calm and stick to the plan – whatever that was.
Across footbridges over the Test and through Kings Somborne and a steep climb which slowed me to a walk. No matter, I use it to refuel. My own concoction of salty jelly babies. It’s an acquired taste – which I haven’t. A cheery smile and wave from James B as he jogs past me. Time to start running again. You sense a change in the terrain and tempo. Some of the tracks are cracked and rutted or covered in loose chalk and stone just waiting to twist the ankles of the weary and unwary.
A bizarre sight at the water station before the steep slog up to Farley Mount. Competitors loitering at the table sampling flapjack, cake, etc. WTH!! Its supposed to be a race not a picnic. Several parts of the course are single file only. Up and over Farley Mount is one of them, slowing you down to a plod. I could have had that cake after all.
I felt rested and relaxed by the time I passed a cheering Tom and Kat at the entrance to the country park. Down into disorienting woodland trails and then a long, long, long climb past the golf course and onto Sarum Road. The end is in sight. Buts what’s this? Two guys I know from Eastleigh PR overtake me. That’s not cricket. Time for all those jelly babies to do their work. I speed up. 100 m to go we’re neck and neck. Into the school and onto the sports field, crowds cheering, I give it one last drive and cross the line millimetres ahead of them. Howzat! Well and truly out.
Bournemouth Running Festival
Marathon – Lucie Woellenstein
On the 7th October, with literally perfect running weather (15°C, no wind & sunny – even managed a nice little T-shirt tan), I got to experience running my first ever marathon. And my goodness, I knew I had developed some sort of the running bug over the last year, but I did not know quite how much I was going to enjoy that day. It helped of course, that, the course was basically 95% flat, with only 2-3 hills, at the end of which you knew you were going to get a new supply of endorphins, and that it looped back and forth along the beautiful Bournemouth coast. Although the looping back and forth in long straight lines was less welcomed in the last 7 or so km 😝.
The first 33km seemed to go fairly swimmingly, which I’m sure I have the comparison to faint memories of Thunderrun to thank for. Then almost from one second to the next, my energy dropped, and with it my minutes/km by nearly 60 seconds!! Nonetheless, I was ecstatic to still have managed a sub 4 hr time for my first compete in the marathon game! To top off the experience, with help of many friends & family, I was also able to raise around £400 (final amount not yet confirmed) for ‘The Preemptive Love Coalition’, a charity which works with refugees in Syria and Iraq. A Huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me!
Half Marathon – Dave Ball and Tony Mabey
Tony and I ran the Bournemouth Half. This was my first Bournemouth Marathon Festival run and it was a great atmosphere – a huge number of people taking part and great to be part of. Tony had run before which was very handy for logistics!
The race started in Kings Park Athletics Stadium, taking a route across to Boscombe before heading east back towards Southbourne and then on to the seafront heading west, finishing at Bournemouth Pier. Weather was great and spirits were high – a slight overdose on caffeine gels hampered my performance from mile 9 but Tony’s unsympathetic encouragement got me round – just about scraping a PB too! Look forward to another go next year!
Oxford Half Marathon
Keith (& Alana) Spiers
The various emotions you go through as a parent are numerous, and with my financial head-on, the cost benefit analysis of having two children doesn’t at times seem very positive (even now, my parents would agree with that statement).
But I’ve always been luck to be able to watch my children do sporty things and now that Alana is much older, I have the pleasure of being able to run with her. As a student at Oxford Brookes on a teacher training course, Alana picked this as her first effort into long distance running.
The training schedule had been at best forgotten until about six weeks before-hand, spurred on by her miserable father telling her she hadn’t a chance of completing it let alone in a good time, unless she started to do some training. To her credit she did, even during her various activities in support of fresher’s week.
Oxford is a large event with around 9,000 runners. It starts and end in the centre with the middle part going out into the countryside. You do seem to spend the whole time going up or down gentle inclines rather than big hills, so I’m sure it’s a quick course. There is plenty of local support in the centre and are family was able to see us 4 times, which is nice.
The weather conditions were perfect, and we set of at a good pace and maintained it until around mile 10, when the legs and speed started to go. For those of us who have paced people around, it’s not an easy task, do you stay in-front or alongside, slow down or speed up? But pacing your daughter seems to be prone to more verbal exchanges especially as it became tougher in the last mile! So, it was a welcome sight to see her friends standing 300m from the finishing line as she suddenly found a level of enthusiasm, previously unseen over the last 20 minutes. My non-existing sprinting skills were suddenly called into action, but thankfully I still manged to cross the line with her in very creditable 1:43:50. A drink and a Sunday roast helped bring back a more positive father/daughter relationship.
It had been a lovely day, we both ran well, I was a proud dad and more importantly, she has got her running mojo back.
Basingstoke Half Marathon
Basingstoke half marathon was a race with a difference – my finish time was pre-determined and there’s no kudos for beating it.
I was fortunate to be selected as an official 1:45:00 pacer. My goal was to finish in 1:44:50 on the assumption that anyone who was with me at the finish line would therefore get under the 1:45 mark.
The course is far from flat (although not as hilly as Clarendon) which means consistent 8:00 per mile, which would normally hit the nail on the head isn’t sensible. I’d run the course in training with friends, to work out what 1:45 felt like and where I needed to be when – the last 4 miles are downhill/flat so for most of the course I would be behind the magic 8:00 m/m average. I spent quite a lot of time telling those around me this as not all of them would have run the course before and I didn’t want them panicking, dashing off and regretting it later.
The elevation profile, overall about 260m of climbing
On race day the pacers (with times ranging from 1:30 – 2:30) assembled to meet the runners, which proved surprisingly popular (it was hard to do my usual pre-race routine of 3 toilet trips!). After a quick warm up we were off. I was wearing 2 watches in case one failed and was constantly checking my Garmin (yes, even more than usual) to see we were on pace. Looking back at about 3 miles there were several dozens of runners right on my tail. I was expecting to lose some as time went on and by mile 7 the group had shrunk to around a dozen runners. I was also checking my Garmin at each mile point to see that I wasn’t running short or long on the course, as it transpired I was running around 50 metres ‘long’ by mile 9 and as we got closer to the finish line the stress of delivering a ‘spot on’ increased as the time available to slow down or speed up to take account of a short/long course decreases.
2 miles in and I am pretty popular 🙂
In the last couple of miles I had just 2 runners with me and was really able to talk to them one 2 one, although I wasn’t getting much back – I think because they were working at their absolute limit.
As we got into the last ½ mile the temptation to speed up increases and I had to really fight the urge, particularly when I saw runners in front of me & the racer in me thought ‘I could have ‘em’ – you have to be 100% focused on your target pace.
I ended up finishing in 1:44:40, so about ½ second per Km too fast for my target 1:44:50, although my gun time was spot on at 1:45:00.
Later I found out that my constant chat, encouragement, shouting etc was appreciated by some runners, but also maybe the reason that only 2 runners actually finished with me – hopefully those who got sick of it pulled away in front of me, rather than fell back.
No doubt many of you will have seen pacers in local races, it’s not as easy as it looks, you need to be able to run the pace fairly easily to support the runners but its also important to be consistent with your pacing and effort, running a 6:00 or 10:00 last mile to hit target pace isn’t helpful to those around you. That said, it is good fun, running has given me so much and it is nice to be able to give just a small amount back and help others achieve their goals
If any of you like the idea of a 1:45 next year, I’ve been asked to pace again, so sign up here https://www.destinationbasingstoke.co.uk/basingstoke-half-marathon/ but be warned, it isn’t the easiest course in the area.