|Hilly Hilly Hilly|
The weather all week had been wet and hit and miss and the forecast was for rain. Given thie weeks rain there was lots and lots of mud but fortunately the rain stayed away for the most part during the race except for the odd smattering.
The race was effectively one big loop with only one short section traversed twice.
Its hard to explain how difficult this marathon is. Estimates for the climb go from 2500ft to 3500ft (I think closer to 3000ft). It has lots of long long drags as well as some vertical short hills. Conditions under foot were generally awful with mud being pervasive and if you were not running around it you were sticking in it. Compared to last year (2016) conditions were much more difficult. Results showed that everyone was 1hr to 1hr 30 mins slower than a normal marathon.
|Costas and Brenda|
After the race briefing by Andy Palmer we were off. I remembered that the first 8.5 miles were relatively easy but I obviously mis-remembered, as there were 3 or maybe 4 climbs that I had forgotten about. The mud hit us immediately in the first couple of miles and it was a sign of things to come. The only road section on the course is also early in and around the village of Farnam. Even with these relatively good starting conditions compared to the rest of the race I just about scraped 6 miles in the first hour.
|Derry's own Fiona and Kasia|
Half way came at 2:31 and I was 6 minutes down on last year but conditions were much worse. An aid station appeared at 14 miles and a few around me dropped out. This was just before a 1.3 mile long drag up hill that most of the course around me was walking. Last year I remembered I ran most of this hill but this year the legs were not there.
This pattern of long sweeping downhills and long long drags up hill continued. In particular we seemed to go up forever on a narrow very muddy section which was difficult to stand up on never mind go forward. 20 miles came on a fairly open up hill section and this was a prelude to the love station. This of course was just as I went the wrong way at one particular very muddy junction and luckily Jerry Fuber was there to call me back. At the love station there was shots, beer, cakes, sweets and kisses. Sadly leaving this behind the last 6 miles had 3 significant climbs (all walked) and one very very steep slippy downhill. I met Fiona Mc Neilis on the last aid station she had picked up Kasia and they were running strong and just ahead of me. I made a big effort on the last climb back to the monument taking many places and stretched it in over the last 400m.
Click here for the The Love Station Video Courtesy of Rob Hannam
It wasnt my fastest time ever but never the less glad to get home.
Hot food was the reward and I joined Kasia and Fiona with my burger for a debrief after.
I really have forgotten how difficult these types of hilly muddy trail races are:
Photos Anna Hatton, Kasia Lubowiecka, Alister Rae, Rob Hannam
Strava Stats for today