I know for some people in the club doing 2 marathons in a week is a regular habit (mentioning no names….Leon) but for me this was a bit of a new foray in the multi-marathon world.
I had completed the Giants Head Marathon last year, and fancied another trip down to Dorset, so I made sure I entered the event as soon as it opened, and good job too, as it was sold out extremely quickly. The Hampshire Hoppit was a more last-minute affair, and I decided about 2 weeks before that as I didn’t have anything going on that day, I might as well add another one in.
The HH was taking place the week after Endure24, so with 35 miles in the legs I wasn’t planning on a particularly quick time. The forecast looked perfect, 15 degrees and a breeze, a nice local event meant a fairly relaxed morning routine, maybe a little too relaxed as I was pinning my number on and hadn’t dropped by bag off by the time they were announcing ‘5 minutes to go’ but I was ready with literally seconds to spare.
Within the first 2 miles we were climbing up a very steep hill, but everyone was in good spirits and we enjoyed the views from the top, stopping to get our breath back. Shortly after that, Martin Gould ran past me, so we enjoyed the next few miles chatting. The aid stations were plentiful and well stocked, with luxuries such as Kettle Crisps to be enjoyed! The time ticked by and I found myself running with a very nice chap called Matt, so we ran/walked most of the second half together. I was wearing my Endure24 T-shirt (as it happened to be on top of the pile, being my most recent addition) and a number of the marshals had clearly been marshalling there too, as it got a fair few comments!
The route was varied, and ‘undulating’ with plenty of spectacular views of the Hampshire countryside. We knew the last few miles would be downhill and enjoyed the slope down to the finish line. A medal and a commemorative pint glass were lovely mementos of the day, especially when there was beer to put into the glass! The marshals were some of the friendliest I’ve come across and there were a few other bonuses, such as free race photos! Overall, an excellent local event – highly recommended.
The weather got a bit warmer over the following week, with a forecast of 24 degrees for the Sunday of Giants Head. A bit of a longer drive to the start, but, paranoid about traffic, I arrived in the beautiful village of Sydling St Nicholas about 45 minutes before kick-off. Loads of time, especially compared with the previous week! As White Star Running’s 100th event, there was more than the usual hubbub, with everyone excited to be there and plenty of supportive locals out cheering us across the start line. Again, only a few miles in, Richard Boese came past, it’s great how you find Sandhurst Joggers at events all over the country! Always nice to catch up with people whilst running – and we had the added fun of nearly following a group of runners into an accidental 3 mile diversion, thankfully we noticed in time and were directed by some other runners to climb over a barbed wire fence, but soon we were on our way again across the glorious fields and woods of Dorset.
The day was heating up, and I was feeling pretty tired, the miles seemed to be ticking by slower and slower, but I knew I would get round within the very generous cut offs. Due to several hundred runners doing an extra 3 miles, the route was more crowded than usual, even quite late on in the event, which actually made for quite a nice atmosphere, as trail runs can sometimes feel a bit lonely, although I’m not sure those people who ended up with a 29 mile marathon were feeling especially sociable towards the end!
Despite having run the event last year, I couldn’t really remember any of the route, except for the hill in the last few miles….who put that there? But thankfully the very last bit was, like the previous week, downhill. Another spinning willy medal to add to the collection!
I realised later in the day that this had been my 3rd marathon within a month, having done Edinburgh late in May, and I had survived all 3, with fairly minimal build-up training! (The week that followed saw me signing up for Pilgrims and Beachy Head marathons later in the year.)