Sunday 17 May 2015

Richmond Park

#91 Richmond Park Marathon  3:57:34

David Weir

This is my favorite urban park marathon and I was 36 minutes faster than my first outing last year. This is one of a series of 3 trail events by Gaz the organiser. The others being the Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 and the Vanguard Way.  I have had the pleasure of doing both the others and they are all fine tough events.  Gaz incidentally remembered me from Salisbury 2013 and the Vanguard Way 2014 and gave me a great welcome. I wore my Vanguard Way top today and I was surprised on how many people commented on it.

Admin area
This race is actually pretty convenient to my house only being some 40 minutes away and I was there bright and early. The forecast was for overcast and breezy. It turned out warm (approx 19 degrees) with a little breeze. It was however as hilly as I remember at some 1300ft-1400ft climb but on good quality trails in and around the park. I did however notice that I had forgotten my timing chip about 5 mins from the race. But as a mark of the professionalism of the event they sorted me out in no time.

There was much excitement when 6 time Paralympic Gold medalist
Finish Gantry
David Wier turned up and spent time with everyone chatting and getting photos taken. I had my couple of minutes with him and what a nice chap.

complex but well marshaled route
There were some big celebrations today as well. Traviss and Rachel from SVN had announced their engagement and Janet and David were celebrating their 300th and 600th marathons respectively. There was also a 100 from piers. Also there was Anna Hatton sporting a very fetching new hairdo. So all in all a great atmosphere at the start. Fortunately I have a degree in maths and was able to work out how to attach the very unique timing device. Not everyone fared so well.

David and Janet's cakes
Unique timing device
At 9:30am David Weir set us off and we followed the now traditional Gorilla on a bike (seriously). There were approx 300 in the race all doing the marathon. I decided today to go out reasonably hard and managed the first 5K (small loop) which was predominantly on road but up hill and into the wind in 24 minutes. This set the seen for the next larger 9 mile loop all around the park. I eventually came in half way in 1:47:43. This was Ok and I was feeling good particularly as this had been a tough half with the temperature steadily rising. I felt at this stage I was running as good as I was at Belfast recently and was targeting a sub 3:50 as I knew the second have was even tougher with some very long climbs.

Past the first water stop
The race was perfectly marshaled and it had to be as there were some roads that had to be crossed. There was well stocked aid stops every 3 miles and I am becoming very adept at drinking out of plastic cups.

From mile 12 we entered 2x7 mile loops around the perimeter of the park that ended with extremely tough climbs (1.5 miles) at miles 16 and 23.  I was still doing great coming through 20 miles in 2:51 and over 21 miles at 3 hrs. It was at this point I was overtaken by Janet Coby in her 300th marathon. What a woman!

It was at this stage the wheels came off and I had nothing left in the legs and with tough climbs on the way home I lost mucho time.

Goodies for today
I was under real pressure but thankfully was still running (be it slowly) when London based Crusader Michael Costello pulled beside me on his bike. I must admit that because of my state of delirium that it took a few seconds to recognize him. He was to go on to tell me about his own travails the day before at a park run in London, blowing up while in second place after 3.5km. My heart bled for him.

I knew I was safe for under 4 hrs so didnt push too hard for home and eventually came in 3:57:34 in a satisfactory day overall and another solid sub 4 hr. It was a very tough course and it was a very warm day and it was my 8th weekend running in a row, so lots of excuses there. I met up with Michael after and I was glad to see that he had settled well into London.

Click here for Polar RC3 stats for the day

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