Sunday 21 December 2014

Portsmouth Trail

Marathon #76  Portsmouth Coastal Trail Marathon


This was an interesting marathon as it had been voted in the top 10 in the UK and was the closest marathon to Christmas. The weather forecast was dry but would be very very windy with a westerly. As it was an out and back marathon it would help on the way out and be direct in the face for most of the way back.

As it turned out it was as bad as I was expecting.

It was an 8:45am start and you could pick up your number on the morning. Both Dave Brady and Brenda O'Keefe were there, extending their Irish records for most marathons run in a calendar year. It would be Dave's 101st and Brenda's 71st. Brenda has 3 more planned in 2014 and Dave 2 (maybe 3).

I picked up my number in the Pyramid Leisure center with 1800 others. This was a big crowd given a lot of the race was on a tight single track trail with "kissing gates" and pinch points. Brenda managed to get an early start and was gone by 8:15. I met with Dave before hand and we both had the same expectations of a 4:30 given it was a trail and windy.

We gathered on the prom and followed the pipe band to the start which was 800m down the prom. Very quickly we were off. Immediately my Garmin started playing up. Starting at a 9:15 comfortable

Dave at the start
pace with the wind helping we ran the first 2 miles on the prom. Street furniture was an issue here with several accidents noted. We then turned right onto the coast on a narrow trail which led to the first beach. This was very tight getting onto the beach and we
Waiting to get on the beach
were queued for a couple of minutes waiting to get on. The beach was shingle and soft and hard to run on. Fortunately it didn't last long but was followed quickly by another. At this stage we were single file on the coastal cycle path and it was very stony and at times muddy. Road shoes where just about Ok for the race but were on the edge at times.

We were stuck at a kissing gate for several minutes.

The aid stations were very well stocked with Gel's, Jaffa cakes, sweets, Jelly beans and mulled wine. I had a long conversation with coach Cottle at the Crusaders Christmas party earlier in the week and agreed that it was important to enjoy these marathons after some dodgy experiences at le marathon De Medoc where wine and oysters should have been consumed. I took full advantage of the aid stations. I came through 10K in approx 1hr and we skirted the M27 for quite a while at this stage.

After a very open marsh trail we crossed the bridge to Hayling Island and again stuck to the coast. The race was still busy throughout and it soon got busier as we started to meet runners coming back on the "out-and-back" route.  Surprisingly we turned at approx 12 miles and hit half way on the way back. I came through half way in 2:08, which was Ok on a trail.

Brenda finishing 71 for 2014
Dave finishing 101 for 2014
The wind started to bite on the way back and Dave caught me at 16 miles and disappeared across the bridge onto the mainland. We traipsed into the wind through the marsh re-tracing our steps.

At 22 miles I spotted Dave again in front of me and passed, expecting him to follow. He would end up 4 minutes behind.

All done
It turned out because of the tide they didn't bring us back onto the
beach on the way back but through a housing estate before returning to the prom. I was pleased that I ran the whole race and managed to make it back to the Pyramid Leisure center in 4:29:11. I was pleased with this given it was a trail and there was a lot of waiting in the early part of the race at the pinch points and relatively windy.

Garmin stats (Note Garmin didnt work too well. Just as well its Christmas (hint)).

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