This was a new experience for me, as all the previous marathons had been on a point-to-point route, or single lap. This race was to consist of forty laps, and took place in Faversham, Kent, just off the coast and in a quiet town recreation sports park.
But it was a race that I approached with some trepidation. The thought of forty laps of a recreation ground, seeing the same scenery time after time and knowing what the terrain coming up was like filled me with a sense of uncertainty. Would I be able to mentally cope with the potential boredom of not really going anyway? Would the temptation of dropping out (never an option) if things were going very badly, be too great? And would I get lost?
I arrived early and registered and put my marked own drinks bottles, filled with PSP22 and Go Electrolyte drinks on the respective table, at least I knew what I was getting. I also had Go-gels and had a power-bar before the race, as well as breakfast before I left the house.
All these worries and doubts were laid rest early on in the race. There were about 29 runners in the marathon and another 13 runners taking part in a 6 hour race. The early morning temperatures were already at about 18 degrees, but would rise to about 25 by lunchtime; however the route was well covered by trees and only had a small patch of sun at the start/finish area, but this time I had prepared for the weather, making sure I had a small pack with salt tablets in just in-case.
The drinks station and lap counters were all positioned in the same area, and it was encouraging to know that there would always be someone cheering you on each time you passed that point.
The race itself was all on tarmac, fairly flat with a couple of speed humps in places but with a rather steep hill, albeit only 50 metres long at one end, doesn’t sound too bad, but after climbing it 40 times it was to be the least liked part of the course. Each lap was 1044.35 metres (to be exact) and the total amount of climbing was 3900 feet, which is only 100 feet per lap, but I was surprised how much it mounted up.
Route as issued by Race Director Sid Morrison
The race started in a rather relaxed fashion, and I was into my pace and stride pattern by the end of the first lap, and finished the first lap in the first group of four, a surprise to myself, more than anything. As the next lap progressed I found myself moving to the front of the group and by the end of the third lap had built a 50 metre lead. This was not planned but my pace was still averaging 7 minute miles and I felt comfortable with it, so didn’t slow. I lead the race for the next 13 laps (about 8 miles) but then started to be pulled back in by the rest of the runners, mainly because I was slowing more for drinks every other lap, which through out the momentum and lost a bit of ground (plus there was a toilet stop, but that’s more the you need to know).
The rest of the race passed without drama, and although I slowed once I hit about 19 miles, which resulted in me finishing in 3:36:46, 4 mins outside a PB, so still a very pleasing time. Overall race position was 11th, so finished in the top 30% of the field, and having seen the profiles of most of the runners I was immensely pleased with the result.
All in all a good days run, no bad after-effects, no injuries, only a small blister on one toe, managed my fluid intake well and have recovered well to back running three days later. All bodes well (shouldn’t tempt fate), for the 45 miler in 3 weeks time, but I still need to re-boot my glycogen levels, which I started doing 2am Monday morning when woken by a growling stomach.
Best trophy so far, a worthwhile memento of a hard but satisfying race.
Will update numbers once they are offically confirmed.
Have a good month
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