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Sunday, 6 May 2012

3 Forts Marathon Race Report (The double marathon weekender)

I arrived home after yesterday's Marathon at Bewl with the task of cooking for 9 as Mrs UB's family descended upon the cottage, eagerly awaiting my bouillabaisse so it was straight out of the bath and into chef mode. A few glasses of wine later and I had relaxed, although had to go to bed at 10pm as the sound of Mah Jong being played in the dining room below helped me drift into a deep sleep.

I have never done the "double" before so was quite nervous when I awoke. The customary post-marathon bedroom shuffle for the first few tentative steps of the morning reminded me my quads resembled steak tartare! A couple of bacon butties and a good glug of Colombian later and we were ready to depart, Katia and Lily in tow as the 3 ladies took on the 3FM half.

Upon arrival, my online payment had duly not been processed, but this had been the case with a number of runners so a swift form completion allowed me time to return to the car to don waterproof and collect my magic ingredients that would keep me alive.

3 years ago I top 20'd with a 3.45. Such were the conditions today that the same time would have placed me 7th. But conditions were fairly 'orrible! I bumped into Helen at the start, Elaine and Peter. All had run Bewl so were taking it a bit easy. A second before the gun went off I met Spenser and within a flash, we were off.

Now runners of this monumental event will know that the first 2 miles go uphill to the 781ft high Cissbury Ring and it was halfway up that I realised that this was a bad idea. Rain beating down upon us, a path with a mud the consistency of wallpaper paste and plenty of squally wind. Great, I thought. Things didn't get better with a 2 mile descent back to the bottom of the Downs and at 4 miles, quads on fire, I though about chucking in the towel. So many were overtaking me and my watch was clocking 11 min miles, I thought of the cut off and just turning around and walking back. No!

So onto the River Adur and up to Botolphs. The SDW turned to road and I wished for muddy soft paths, so much so that the next 3 miles went by, runners silently going about their business, bedding in for the long haul. Mile 7 was a chance for me to grab some juice and hob-nobs at the well stocked checkpoint and the long climb up to Devil's Dyke from sea level, another 718ft. I wanted to chuck in the towel again but dug in and started to get into the groove. The idea of a DNF in a marathon is for hospitalisation, not losers. As I came up the hill, the first of the runners approached from the 11.5 mile switchback. Running in 50th or so place was big man Johnny K, looking fresh. "Why are you behind me?" he stated........"John, I ran a marathon yesterday!" and off we went about our business. 30 seconds later I spied Spenser coming down the hill. The 11.5 switchback is a strange affair. It always has been. 4 marshals, an oldskool caravan and plenty of cake and sweets. This was the exact point my mood changed. Ruth asked me how long we had been running as her Garmin had died. 2 hours.....shit.....I thought, that's slow! I asked the marshals if they had any juice, to which they replied....."what juice do you want?" "Cider please!" and we all had a good old laugh. This lightened my spirits no end and with that, off we skipped at 9s.

I caught up with Spenser and ran with him for a while,  commenting on the points at which our support crew would be most welcoming and I selected the top of Devil's Dyke. I thought we might run together for the rest of the race, but I got chatting to a poor chap who's Garmin had fallen off and sort of trotted on ahead. (Note to self......I know the Garmin nightmares well!)

I hit mile 15 and felt really good. I couldn't understand why there were so many walking? An ultra-shuffler really know how to drop down and ultra-shuffle when the need arises. And so I did. Miles flew by and all of a sudden 20 was up and I felt great. I only walked the last hill after that. I had a great chat with Beanie who was running 3 in 4 weeks for charity, a lady from Stragglers who we caught up on the forthcoming GBR race that is organised by her club and Ruth...who was killing the downhills. From 15 to the end I must have passed well in excess of 100 runners. Another UB and Immune moment came and the last for the last 2 I pulled up the anchor, switched off the pain button, switched off the traction control and pressed the "fucking nutter" button. ( would be proud!) Yes it is downhill, but after 26.6 yesterday and 27.4 miles today, the last 2 at 7.00s and then 6.10s were bonkers. 4 hrs 38 is never going to win any prizes....but it was never meant to be fast, it was meant to be a voyage of discovery.

So. How is the first double? Fucking great. I have a cider at my side, reggae on iTunes and dinner at George's tonight. Thank the lord for the bank holiday Monday.

Meeting up with the girls and Helly, Peter and the ultra crew at the end and queuing for 20 mins for a cup of tea was somewhat cold but allowed chance to debrief. On arrival at home I had discovered 2 large holes in my new-ish shoes. I then discovered in the bath a small blister at the location of a hole. I must email the fine fellows at the legendary Pete Bland running store where I get the majority of my clobber.

So. If there was a marathon tomorrow I would run it. But Belfast is a long way and I could do with a day off!


  1. Legs are a bit mashed up today but am off for a gentle 5 miles to stretch them out in a minute!