As part of training for a multi day event I drove off down to Salisbury for this marathon last Sunday morning, race was only £16 from memory.
Registration was in a Firestation as the race was organised by them to raise funds for the firemans trust. About ten minutes before the start there was a heavy downpur but thankfully it stopped before the start. I’d looked at last year’s results and seen the winner crossing the line in 2:58, I committed that I would stick to me plan of 7:30 miling no matter what happens.
After the first mile it seemed slower and slightly uncomfortable so I decided to open my legs more and stretch out. I assumed judging by last year’s times and the look of a number of runners at the start that people would be coming with me. However by the two mile mark I was on my own, even after stopping to re-pin one corner of my number back on.
Before mile three I was joined by two mountain bikers who told me they were staying with the lead runner for the whole of the race, so I had some company. I warned them that they may get bored of me and I may not be the lead runner by mile 20, to which one of them promised me a 70’s disco that he would provide at mile 20 (he started singing dancing queen when we did get there).
So off I trotted over the mainly cross country course admiring the scenery and thankfully with the mountain bikers I didn’t even need to read the signs as they knew the route and told me where to go. By mile 8 the leader of the 50k ultra was starting to catch me. They had started 30 minutes earlier and completed their 6 miles before getting onto the marathon route. I knew he must have been running quite well to catch me and again reiterated to myself that my plan was 7:30 miling, so I should just let him breeze past me. Unfortunately I didn’t and decided to keep with him from mile 10. It was nice to have someone to chat to as the bikers mainly stayed ahead by around 100 metres and talked to each other. We realised that actually nobody could probably catch us as the bikers were opening every gate for us and stopping traffic for us at any road crossings! This clearly gave us quite an advantage over the rest of the field.
At around mile 14 i started to feel the increased pace and dropped off the ultra leader which meant I also lost the bikers. I didn’t really feel like it was much of an achievement winning the marathon if the ultra runner beat me so I tried to just keep him insight. Which I did until I came to some sharp turns and wasn’t sure where to go. I picked the most likely route and picked up my speed so I could validate my decision by seeing them or turn around quicker. I found them up ahead and realised that the increased speed felt better so stuck at it.
As I was catching the ultra runner it was up and down hills and I was able to ensure i concentrated on my form, having read a few chapters of How to Run faster or something along those lines. This meant i was making good short steps at a high turnover on the uphills whereas the ultra runner was plodding. So by mile 18 i was with him again. As the wind had picked up and i was feeling good i told him to tuck in behind me and just stay as close as he can and I’d shield him from the wind and make it slightly easier. He did until about mile 20 and then started to fall off. I waited for him at the next aid station to see if he wanted to try and stay with me but he told me to go on. The down side to that was I drunk too much orange squash whilest waiting and felt bloated after leaving.
So i went off to the finish and through Salisbury town centre to the line. Any loud hailer? press? Nope nothing, lots of people cheering but they didn’t realise I was the first marathoner until i pointed out that I didn’t really fancy a 30k medal and would prefer the marathon one, at which they told me the cameraman wasn’t ready for me.
I then hung around for the trophy, no prize but a very nice trophy. The guy that came second congratulated me and said that he didn’t think I would keep up that pace as i was ‘a big guy’. I was pleased with this comment and thinking that the weights session had paid off, that I looked down at my bare stomach and realised the hot dog and two bottles of coke had left me very bloated. So I think he was basically saying I was fat!!! I waddled off to end the conversation.
Overall this is a very good cheap marathon that is best treated as a jog training run rather than a race. there is a burger van at the end and you can use the leisure centre afterwards for a shower. It took about 90 mnnutes to drive. The scenery on the course is well worth the drive. Loads of aid stations throughout the course, after half way they had squash and jelly babies and/or mars bars. I’d probably do it again, especially as not many marathons available in August.
Apologises as I don’t have word so cannot spell check this.