Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Marathon of the North: Race Report

I headed south for the Marathon of the North in the city of Sunderland where the marathon, half marathon and 10k all started and finished at the Stadium of Light. This was one of Steve Cram's business ventures and it was good to see him marshalling and packing up the course like his other fellow club runners. It was a shame that some local youths extended their helping hand to helping themselves to his hire van....which they nicked, along with several boxes of marathon runners medals. There was a pasta party that was obviously catering for the local leprechauns, as the portions were tiny. Nevertheless it got people together and Cram and some other Question of Sport contestants were on hand to offer advice.

Race day arrived and the wind was blowing strong. In fact they ditched the hand over marquees for the relay as they were a health and safety risk. It was very cold too, so whilst it was right to have a minutes silence before the race started to remember the Boston bomb victims, as I stood in my vest and shorts my thoughts were beginning to shift to 'why didn't I put a base layer on?' Off we went and the course is quite diverse. It takes you over the landmark Monkwearmouth Bridge a few times, through parks, industrial estates, residential bits, shops and finally along a magnificent coastal and quayside path that loops back to the stadium. There are lots of twists and turns, dips and a few energy sapping hills to work against. The wind made these hard work. It's not a PB course but I liked it despite one or two less creative stretches where you run around a cone and come back on the same road. There were loads of water/isotonic gloop stations and plenty of marshals most of the way to help you along. The locals came out too with plenty of jelly babies and oranges on offer, adding to the strong 'feel good' factor of this event. I have since notified the organisers of any faults, but one that cost me time was a park where no marshals were present and it was anyone's guess which way to go. Aside to that they were pretty good and it was well organised.

My time of 3:11:16 was okay. I was happier with my position of 43rd than my time, which suggests others found the wind tough too. Looking back now I can see I made the schoolboy error of going too fast too early. I was under 7min miles for the first 15 miles and not surprisingly at around 18 miles the wheels fell off a bit when cramp struck. After that it was an exercise of damage limitation and avoiding DNF on my results. I eventually found my way to the last 400m, only to be confronted by a hump backed bridge, which led to cramp at the home straight. So I didn't finish strong as I like to do, but I've goto over it. Free massages and a quick wander through the stadium made it better. I got a t-shirt and medal, although I understand lots of people didn't. There's a load on auction on Ebay, along with a white van.

There were no Scottish clubs present, and with Sunderland being only 2 hours away from Dunbar, some of you might want to consider doing this one next year. I would, but I might take my thermals next time.
Richard Taylor