Saturday, 26 March 2011

Jack Brooks: MANY Marathon(s) Man - MAY and June 2010

North Dorset Village Marathon: 2nd May 2010:
This was the second running of an excellent small, rural road marathon, which starts from Sturminster Newton. The course is pretty, but undulating and this year a strong wind and drizzle made for slightly unpleasant conditions for marshals and spectators. However, the cool weather was fine for the participants and some fast times were recorded. I finished in 3 hours 44 minutes, 79th out of 224.

Windermere Marathon, Spokane, USA: 15th May 2010:
 Having reached Spokane airport after the car hire company had closed I was forced to take a taxi to my hotel, which turned out to be a cross between a sauna, a tattoo parlour and a railway siding. In spite of the 75 degree temperature and the fact that there was no breeze whatsoever, the marathon should have been idyllic, running as it does from Post Falls, Idaho along Spokane’s riverside on the Centennial Trail. However, it was spoilt because the lead cyclist cut the course short by 0.8 miles right at the start of the race. The organisers added a 0.8 miles section at the end, but only a few of us decided to run the full distance (and it even took me about 3 minutes to find out where the turnaround point was). I finished in 4:05:13 and just had time to shower and get to the airport. Overall the race was chaotic.

Capital City Marathon, Olympia, USA: 16th May 2010:
A short flight and a 70 minute drive got me to Olympia in time to go for an Italian meal with the friends who had collected my number for me. The weather was somewhat milder for this marathon. I had been warned that there were 4 main hills, but by the halfway point I was wondering if there was any part of the course that wasn’t a hill. My suspicions were confirmed at this stage by one of the girls in the group I was running with. She was local and advised that, if anything, the second half was more “undulating” than the first. Nevertheless, given how tired my legs had felt after completing a marathon the previous day, they felt remarkably fresh and I finished in 3:58:40. This was a much better organised and friendly race and I can see why so many people I know keep going back to it.

White Peak Marathon: 22nd May 2010:
The weather last year was grim. This year we had blazing sunshine. There is very little shade on either the Tissington Trail or the High Peak Trail so I found this race hard work. I completed it in 4:31:00.

Chester Marathon: 31st May 2010:
This is a new, fast and flat Marathon, which principally goes out into Wales and back along a well paved cycle path. I stayed with friends in Holmfirth on the Sunday night and then drove to Chester on the Bank Holiday Monday. The race attracted 750 finishers of whom 39 finished in under 3 hours. The only other Strider there was Ranjiet Kainth who crossed the finish line well ahead of me in 3:11:58. I trailed in, in 252nd place in 3:39:23. There weren’t many spectators, but the ones who were supporting us were enthusiastic and there were more than enough water/sports drink stations along the route. I may well go back and do this race again sometime.

Poppyline Trail Marathon: 6th June 2010:
This marathon starts in Sheringham, follows the coast to Cromer and then passes through the Norfolk villages of Felbrigg, West Beckham, Holt and Weybourne before returning to Sheringham. There is only one monster hill and that is in the last mile. I’d not run this before, but thoroughly enjoyed it. The scenery was fantastic and I had every intention of enjoying it. I ran round with a friend from Welwyn and finished in 5 hours 55 minutes.

Baslow Bootbash: 12th June 2010 and the St Albans Half Marathon: 13th June 2010 : 
It probably wasn’t the brightest idea to enter a hilly trail marathon on the day before the St Albans Half, but what the heck! For the Baslow Bootbash you are given the location of the 7 checkpoints and have to check in at them all. They reckoned that the shortest possible route was around 26 miles whereas I clocked up 27.5 miles. As some of you will be aware, Derbyshire is hilly. The start was in Chatsworth Park and my chosen route took me through Edensor and Sheldon, along Monsal Dale, past Cressbrook Mill and then through Wardlow Mires (I got lost here), Foolow, Eyam (the famous plague village), Froggatt Bridge and Bramley Wood with the finish at Baslow Village Hall. Even the “easy” bits through the fields were hard work as in most fields the grass was still long. However, the reward after I finished in 5:13:00 was a vegetarian pie and mushy peas and that was worth waiting for. I dragged myself round the St Albans Half the next day in 1:50:53, but I think my legs were just turning over on automatic for the last 3 miles as everything else was screaming at me to stop.

Malvern Midsummer Trail Marathon: 20th June 2010:
The hills on this marathon made those around Baslow seem like tiny mounds. Combined with a slightly dodgy route description, which led to us running at least a couple of extra miles (when we weren’t standing still and scratching our heads) this made for a very long day. The first climb was up to Worcestershire Beacon, shortly followed by ones to North Hill and Table Hill. Oyster Hill was just before the 13 mile point. However, the worst was saved to last. After the 19.2 mile checkpoint (which was probably around 22 miles for us) came Chase End Hill, Ragged Stone Hill, Midsummer Hill, Swinyard Hill, Hangmans Hill, Millenium Hill and then an ascent to the British Camp. We then climbed to the top of the Malvern ridge, which we followed over the summits of Black Hill, Pinnacle Hill, Jubilee Hill and Perseverance Hill. This was undoubtedly the toughest trail marathon I’ve done and took 7 hours 53 minutes. Admittedly, I held back because the person I was running with was considerably slower than me, but I’m not sure how much I’d have been able to shave off that time even if I’d been running hard and I’d almost certainly have got lost more.

North Devon AONB Trail Marathon: 27th June 2010:
I should have known what to expect as the Fell Runners Association Rules applied to this inaugural event. The course comprised a figure of eight starting at Woolacombe beach with much of the route following the coastal path and climbs totalling 3,300 feet. However, they also threw in stone, gravel, turf, sand and tarmac in places and a cream tea at the end. It was 27 degrees at the start and then got hotter, but in places there was some sea breeze. I finished 72nd out of 135 in a time of 4:57:42. I’ve had enough of hills for a while now after the last 3 weeks.

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