Well others may have done this before but as a newbie this was all new and fascinating to me, and I was not alone in that as quite a few of us were ‘Clarendon Virgins’ – popping our cherries in communal fashion! Big thanks due to Mark for encouraging and organising (and Mandy too hem hem!)
06:30 on a Sunday morning was definitely early, and that was meeting at Marks, so we were all up at about 5.30 – Hugh and I having selected the ‘whisky afore ye go’ form of soporific to get to sleep the night before! And it was COLD! We found Mark with the minibus engine running, trying (and failing – thats the thing with hired minibuses, they’re never exactly state of the art!) to get the windscreen heated up, with Mark frantically scraping the windscreen. Why on earth are we doing this? After touring the village picking up little knots of lonely Joggers at various points, we set off to Partridge Green to pick the rest of our gang up – 13 of us in total, so a good job we had no superstitious people on board! (Actually I counted wrong, we were 14, but it sounds better this way!)
And off we roared to Chichester, frosty fields to each side. Stopping off at services on the M27 Jackie looked askance as the lure of McDonalds was too much for some of us…….Marcus tucked into his Bacon n’Egg McMuffin looking bemused that anyone would consider that unhealthy (see below for his Marathon time – clearly he should have had the Sausage!). A quick planning meeting of who does what legs in the Relay, and off we went again, pitching up at the start point, a school, with about 20 minutes before the first start. Hugh, Mark and Marcus went off with the relatively small group at 9.30, while the Relay teams had to wait another hour before heading off with the mass start at 10:30 – Richard and Fabian sprinting off into the morning sun. Then it was back into the minivan, me taking over the controls and Andy R navigating as we hurtled to the mid-way point, Kieran, Amanda and Jackie literally flinging themselves out to register and start the Half Marathon with only 15 minutes to go, while we shot back to the first Relay changeover point, hoping that neither Richard nor Fabian got there before we did (we could only guess what their reaction would have been had we not been there!). Fortunately, we made it (with a loo break to spare) as the running sisters Louise and Nikki took on the batons for Leg 2 – no competition with that head to head eh!
So for the 3rd time in an hour we barrelled up the roads back to the halfway stage, too fast really as we got there way ahead of ‘the sisters’. As I was tucking into some coffee and a roll, it dawned suddenly that I was running in an hour – I’d forgotten about that bit! Lorna and Andy picked up the pace and shot off – we looked for Hugh, Marcus and Mark but realised that they would have gone through the checkpoint ages ago. So I handed the van keys to Richard, with Fab taking on the navigation to the 3rd, and most difficult to find, checkpoint. Knowing Andys pace we had a real concern that we might not make it in time, but Richard pushed anyone stupid enough to come in the opposite direction off to one side……..brief panic when Andy R and I jumped out of the van when we saw marshalls, shouting to Richard to leave us and go park up, only to find it wasnt actually a changeover point and having to catch the van before it disappeared, leaving us stranded over a mile from where we needed to be! We made it!!!!
At Checkpoint 3 Andy M came tearing up to set Andy R off, and right behind him came Mark and Hugh – pretending to break out into a run when they saw their cheering fans! They’d ‘only’ run 20 miles at this point but looked fresh. After a quick chat with them, they carried on and Lorna then came through to set me off on the final leg. Suddenly, 7 hours after setting off that morning, I had some work to do – ‘why didn’t I do Leg 1’ was all I could think of! But it was great fun – not sure how the Marathon runners felt but I was elated as I ‘shot’ (hem hem) past the people who had been running for 3 or 4 hours! “Well done” they kept shouting as I ploughed ahead………I did shout back that I had only just started but eventually ran out of breath so some people must still think some idiot had started late and was just catching up!!!
And so to the finish……..everyone had finished when I came through, I had hoped to catch Hugh or Mark but they must have heard me and put a spurt on – or I was just too slow of course!!
Marcus had shot ahead, leaving Mark to carry his music paraphernalia which wasnt working- no party-party on the go for him….clearly the lighter load benefited him given his time! And Jackie and Amanda, having come through to the finish ahead of all the main groups, were invited to accept awards for the winners……..TWICE they had to explain that they had started ahead of the main group and while flattered that anyone thought they could run a 1:15 Half, were not the superwomen that they were seen as!
All the photo’s from the day are in the Gallery here:
Thanks to Richards ‘brisk’ driving by 5pm we were all in the White Hart reliving the day and re-hydrating. All in all it was a fabulous day and one that we should repeat next year – the range of options suits all of our runners and it really was a great day out – none of us knew where the time went!!! As only the marathon runners saw the ‘whole course’ its difficult to say what stands out, as everyone else only saw ‘their’ part – so I’ll let Hugh take over (Results are at the bottom):
I approached this event with some apprehension. I am always nervous before a marathon – even after over 100 – but, for various reasons, I have never been less well-prepared. However the camaraderie from being part of such a friendly group makes a big difference and I forgot all about my nerves on the way there.
Mark, Marcus and I started with the slow runners and walkers, so there was no pressure, but I couldn’t shake off my lethargy or doubts that I could actually complete the marathon. Marcus soon disappeared into the distance and I actually looked forward to the first and subsequent hills as a reason – not an excuse – to walk.
It was a lovely day, dry underfoot and Mark and I kept up our usual chat, so the miles ticked by. He was very encouraging and kept telling me we were running much faster than he would have done with Terry Smith. As time went on I was feeling better and better – there may be a tipping point after 6 gels and Neurofen – until we reached the checkpoint at just over 20 miles and once again saw the friendly faces of the Joggers.
I was not looking forward to the last few miles, when I got cramp last year, but at that point a lady, called Jane, caught us up and asked whether she could run with us to the finish. It would have been ungallant to refuse, but after a short while I realised Mark was not with us. I felt uncomfortable about this, but obviously couldn’t desert her, so with new found vigour we ran together until that hill a mile before the finish where she left me – just like Brian did last year!
All in all it was a great day and roll on Beachy.