On Sunday the 1st October I took part in the Clarendon Marathon in Hampshire, UK. The race route runs from Salisbury to Winchester and is named after the Clarendon Park in Salisbury. The route is mix of country lanes and trails which makes for a scenic and green event. I had been looking for something of marathon distance or more to do in October/November to keep things ticking over and this just came up by chance. After entering, I managed to convince another few friends to sign up too. The event was organised very well. Easy to follow entry page, great communication the week leading up to the event and plenty of volunteers on the day to make everything run smoothly. Weather on the day was predicted to be bad ass, but it ended up being quite nice. We even had a bit of sunshine. My hopes and dreams of ending the race looking like Arnie at the end of Predator were dashed. Ah well, next time.
After a good week of running and tapering, Sunday morning arrived. My friend Richard and I arrived in Winchester Park & Ride on the morning of the race. I faffed around a bit and ended up just going out with my Ultimate Direction AK vest to use the pockets for gels. No water. There were going to be an incredible thirteen (yes, thirteen!) aid stations through the run. That meant I didn’t really need my own liquids. I also decided no Tailwind this time as I wasn’t aiming to be out for long enough. I’ll usually take Tailwind for 4 hours+ runs. It was going to be wild berry flavoured High Five gels for the run.
I wore my REALLY broken and well overdue for replacing Hoka Challenger ATR3’s. These bad boys had more holes in them than a grater. It was going to be a kamakazi run for this pair of Hokas. I was laying them to rest. Their final outing. I kinda feel sad typing this thinking about so I’ll move on. I finished getting my crap together. Richard was sorted. He usually comes with a good, simple game plan. (A quick add note – he won the marathon on the day in 2:52, a week after winning the Winchester Half Marathon and two weeks after coming 2nd at the Purbeck 16 mile race. The mans a machine!) We soon headed for one of the three buses and boarded for our journey to Salisbury. The bus journey was a bit cold, but very appreciated. Thanks again to the organisers of this event for the transport that was organised. The bus was interesting. I am sure the body of that bus was moving more than it should have.
When we got to the school in Salisbury we headed straight into the hall and got our numbers and safety pins. Volunteers were all so helpful and again, so many of them. Thank you to everyone at the start of the run who helped. I bumped into some running friends and we had a quick exchange of predicted run times for the day and chat about future events. Love it. Before long, and an hour after the early starters had gone, I was at the start line jumping up and down, bending legs back and doing those awkward pre-start thingymabobs. Time for a few start line photos and then we were sent on our way, with the sound bomb going off right next to my left ear
No matter how hard I try and unless I know the area very well, I never really remember the names of places or much of what happened during a marathon. There were trees. Lots of trees. There was mud and plenty of it. Roads, people, grass, hills. Beautiful. What I do remember though is meeting up (for the third time in a different event!) with my running friend Gavin. Somehow, we’ve managed to do this on three separate events, starting a couple of years back at the Portsmouth 50k where we initially met and ran together for quite a few miles. Last year it was the Portsmouth Marathon where we met up in nearly the same place and did the same thing. This time we broke tradition and did actually say hello before the run, but on route Gavin did the traditional thing and caught me up within a few miles. For Clarendon though, we stayed together for most of the route and actually went through the finish together which was great. Gavin is a great runner with some good speed in his legs and he usually leaves me for dust towards the end of the run. This time round we were both struggling with the route, so the company was very welcome.
Towards the end of the run there was practically an aid station per mile. At that point they were needed. I was pretty thirsty. I’m not sure leaving my drinks behind was the best idea but at least I know that now. I reckon that past and present mistakes pave the way for future successes (yes, even if you make those mistakes more than once!). Going through the finish was grand. Gavin and went through side by side at the same time. We were both pleased to finish and I think we kept each other going to the end. We finished in a time of 3:48, which was slower than I wanted but right for the day. I never really settled well during the race. I enjoyed the challenge underfoot but my ATR3’s I had on just didn’t cut it on the slippery surface at all. At the end, the slipping and sliding was forcing the legs to react too quickly and ending in cramps. Other lessons for me – train more for the distance! Never underestimate the marathon! Putting in race type effort to the marathon will drain you always! Take some liquids with me next time! Company during a race helps tremendously!
As always, thank you to all the volunteers who made this run possible. Thanks to the race organisers and to everyone who helped us out from the bus drivers to the supporters at the feed stations and along the route. Even the kids who were dishing out jelly babies throughout the day. Sorry I didn’t take any but I wasn’t being grumpy. I’d have just brought them back up. Ew. I highly recommend people to run this event next year if you are looking for really well organised, easy to follow marathon with probably the best support by pure number of volunteers that I’ve ever seen. You can already enter here. Next event – the Portsmouth Harbour 50k in December…or… perhaps another marathon somewhere. Any ideas?
(PS – I’m still trying to get myself one of those cool blue Hoka running shirts! It will be mine …. oh yes, it will be mine….)