I really don’t know what possessed me to enter this marathon, off road and very hilly – my two least favourite things! But I was in. I had a really busy week the week of the Pilgrim so did not manage to run at all, but I had done the Maidenhead Half the Sunday before so knew I would at least last for half of it.
I arranged to pick-up Jane Bannister, Richard Boese, Ian Watson and Andrea Hadfield so quite a little gang of us set off early that morning, and because we are so lovely and very special we had VIP parking at the start. Actually it was because there were five of us from the same club (but I like the other reason better!) The flag was planted and we swelled in numbers as the rest of the SJ’s arrived, many to run the half-marathon, and a photo shoot was promptly organised.
The marathon started at 09.30 so after the usual toilet visits and discarding of clothing the marathoners lined up at the start. I had no plans for this apart from a hilly workout and to finish since I have Loch Ness in two weeks, followed by Chester a further two weeks after that, so this was really a training run for me. The first half was not as hilly as I expected but the terrain was pretty rutted with the hot weather, so you had to be fairly sure footed. There were marshals everywhere to prevent us getting lost, although this did not prevent Ian from taking a wrong turn; he must have been going so fast he missed the arrow. There were also aid / water stations approx. every two miles which were very well stocked with food and home baking. There was a danger that you would actually gain weight whilst running this marathon. When we arrived at St Martha’s church I knew that was the hardest climb and we were half way. By this time I had joined Jane and Nigel Evans and stayed with them for all but the last 2 miles of the run, we also met Andrea and her friend Dan at the water stations.
After the last aid station I decided to try and finish strong, then I met Martin and he informed me that there was a small climb up to the finish but it was on road, my surface, so no problem I also managed a sprint for the line as I saw a lady in front of me who looked to be in my age category, so job done.
My slowest marathon by far, but the company was great, the route was challenging, the scenery was fabulous and plenty of pics were taken to prove this. Definitely should be on everyone’s list, even just for the scenery, the cakes and the marshals.