QE Spring marathon : 1,000m elevation in the 26.2 miles !!

 

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Today’s marathon was one of those days were it was a pleasure to take part. Second Wind Running¬† (SWR)¬†always put on a great race (I’ll let Phil off with the 26.6 miles as everything else was spot on). The combination of a challenging course (1,000 metres elevation), lots of trail running friends and the March sunshine made it a day to remember.

With the marathon setting off at 9.30 and the half at 10.15 there¬†was a lot of activity in the race HQ area. I bumped into Mark from the New Forest as well as Paul, Allie and Richard from Fareham and Ian from Chichester. Paul Jeffrey, a fellow runner & blogger was there¬†as well as Ros, Dean &¬†Kiernan who were out on the course¬†marshalling. It was also great to get a shout out from Fareham’s Mel and Trevor who¬†were just arriving as the marathon set off.¬†Ironically within a mile I was chatting with Thom from Fareham Crusaders¬†who I’d seen on the race entries but didn’t know. We chatted briefly and agreed to train in the future.¬†This pre marathon photo of the two Pauls and Allie shows you what a scenic location we were in.

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The first 2 miles are largely uphill so the initial banter soon went quiet as we all pondered that this would be the same for miles 13 to 15 with today being a two lap course. Regardless of the incline I could hear lots of people saying how beautiful the trail and trees were as we threaded our way through the forestry commission woods.

A group of about ten of us had joined up and as we passed marshal Dean the pace was¬†in line with a 5 hour marathon due to the¬†frequent hills.¬†I chatted with Ian from twitter/Chichester and he mentioned he had a 100 miler in five weeks !! By the 4.5 mile mark we had our first aid station. The group largely stopped on mass so I couldn’t resist running straight through so as to get a head start on the steep incline back out of the park. Today I had two 250ml and one new Osprey 500ml soft flask in my waist belt, these take up less room and work well for me. With¬†five feed stations I only needed to stop at¬†three so¬†it saves a certain amount of time but more importantly you keep on the move !!

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By the top of the climb I seemed to have distanced myself but I figured it would only be a matter of time before they caught me up. With us still relatively early in the run I spotted Stuart March ahead taking the official photos. As he appeared to be taking a long shot and a close up I had time to ponder on what pose I’d go for, as it was, I think the smile on my face summed up the whole day. Trail running with friends …. “it’s simply the best” ūüôā

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I thanked Ros for marshalling when I passed her and this took us down a welcome decent for a while. The sun was becoming stronger now and I exchanged places with brothers Simon and Jonny from Pompey Joggers for a number of miles. The Staunton Way took us back into the park with a long drag across the fields as we headed for the forested area. While I took a gel I snapped this photo to give a sense of the long drag.

DSC00252The second lap started with a slap in the face of realism, this was going to¬†need some concentration. My legs were feeling good but I chose to¬†progress steadily seeing as I haven’t run more than 17 miles this year ūüôā The Pompey brothers appeared again and we had¬†some banter. It’s funny how we chose different sections of the hills to take short walks, so we kept on overtaking and reovertaking (made up word !!)

The¬†Queen Elizabeth Country park was now full of visitors seeing as we’d moved into the afternoon.¬†I’d kept my snood twisted around my wrist and this was very useful to wipe away the sweat from my eyes.¬†After passing¬†Ros & Kiernan marshalling at 19 miles¬†the South Downs Way becomes a narrow tarmac (hilly) road that then gave way to¬†a downhill section which meant my gps watch alarm went off for 20 miles (deep joy)

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The drinks station at about 22 miles couldn’t come soon enough and I have to say I slowed down as we rejoined the Staunton Way for a second time. The final mile and a half through QECP was quite emotional because I knew I’d had a good run and shared the experience with lots of friends.¬†The sound of a woodpecker echoed through the trees and¬†the smile on my face was getting bigger each hundred metres.

My time was 5.07 which I was happy with considering the hills, heat and lack of 20 mile training runs. For a bargain £3 there was chilli con carnie & a roll on offer so I scoffed those down as I chatted with lots of the people I have mentioned. As you saw at the start of my blog the medal and T Shirt were eye catchers and I finished off the day with some photos of the people involved.

DSC00256This is my trail running best buddy Paul, then below me, Ros & Richard.

DSC00257And finally I owe a debt of thanks to Simon and Jonny who kept me on my toes for quite some time, thanks lads.

DSC00258¬†Last but no least thanks to Phil & Teresa from Second Wind Running¬†for hosting a great race and a great day.¬†Lots of complements, I recommend if you are in Hampshire, look them up ūüôā Yes trail running can be challenging but it is also very rewarding.

Roger