Brighton Marathon 2017
A hero is one who knows how to hang on one minute longer – Novalis
With the excitement and inspirational runners at this past weekends London Marathon, it has heightened the feelings I had completing my 3rd Marathon!!! I can’t quite believe it, but it’s true. On the 9th April 2017 I took part in the Brighton Marathon 2017. It has been a long time coming. I first registered for this race back in October 2016, after I got my rejection magazine from my third ballot entry attempt to the London Marathon! Surprisingly after my poor attempt at Bournemouth, I still wanted to do another marathon. I wanted to do a different one this time, and the options at the time were Chester or Brighton – I realise now I could have opted for Manchester too! The general consensus was that Brighton would be a good one, and so that’s the one I went for.
I headed down to Brighton on Saturday afternoon. They had not sent out the bibs in advance and you could not collect them on the day of the race, so I had little choice. I booked in to a B&B for a couple of nights. It was fine, aside from being a little dusty and having to share a bathroom. It was also way too expensive for what you got too… I’ve stayed in 3-4 star hotels for similar prices! It was in the perfect location, though, for the Event Village and Finish Line, but around 20-30 minutes walk from the Station and the start line. Saturday was a gorgeous hot day! But this did not bode well for the race the next day – as 16°C was already going to be too hot for me! I hate running in the heat!
Being only 5 minutes away from the event village meant that it did not matter too much that I had only just over an hour left to go and collect my race number. I headed out to go get it, and something to eat too. It is a shame that I didn’t get there earlier, as there were a few stalls and a stage with an MC, and they were doing competitions. There was also some food stalls and a beer tent. I was in the queue for most of the remainder of the time the Event village was open, so I did not get to enjoy any of the festivities. Even though it was a bit of a wait, being on the beach and looking out to the see was distracting enough. The stage activity was being broadcast on some large screens too. The Brighton Marathon app was handy as you could just show the Participant QR Code which was zapped, and after a couple of security check questions, I was on my way with my number, chip and guide. It was then off to get something to eat and then rest and prepare for the following day!
The time I got up was well before the Cafe opened, that would have provided the included breakfast. I got myself a few bananas and a sandwich from Sainsburys the night before. I didn’t fancy using the dusty kettle either, so no caffeine for me! No matter, what I had was sufficient! I got ready and headed for my 30 minute warmup walk to the start area at Preston Park! Passing beside some of the race route along the way. The crowds were already beginning to build up. The 10K race had already started and the front runners now started passing! I gave them a cheer as they passed, almost wishing I was doing 10K and not the 42.2K I was just about to embark on.
Entering Preston Park there were a sea of runners. For once it was a colourful view of all the different charity vests. Not blocks of colour of running groups. Everyone was either queuing for the portaloos, or for handing in baggage at the trucks, or affixing race bibs. The usual pre-race activities. I made my way to the baggage trucks to hand my bag in. There was a bit of a wait, but I was able to hand my stuff over in a timely manner. I then headed over to the corrals. I was in the Green corral, for the 5hr and over runners.
There were some 12000 runners taking part, so there was a staggered start. While we all waited in our corrals, we were entertained with music, interviews and highlights of what we would be seeing on route. The Brighton Football manager was the official starter so there were interviews with him also. I must admit, I didn’t know who he was at the time. But if you were a fan, that must have been good! 🙂
The first corral, Red, started off at 9.15am. It took another 40 mins before it got to our turn to go! We all chatted and danced. There were portaloos within the corrals too, if needed. I was extremely nervous the previous day, butterflies and everything. I think I was afraid of how hot it was going to be. Whilst we waited it was not too bad, and I hoped that the temperature would not rise too much more than it was. But we were finally off. To start was a loop around the park – not within the park itself, but on the road that surrounded. This was the first incline, straight off the bat! Better to be at the beginning of the race then at the end though. This made for a slow start for me. But I was able to keep running, and managed to not stop until at least the first 5km. The first water station arrived and so I stopped to drink water. It was starting to heat up, but it was manageable. I carried a bottle of Lucozade energy with me, for later on in the race, but stuck to water for the time being. The next 5k continued on into the residential areas of Brighton before looping towards the sea. You could tell it was starting to heat up, but there were still lots of shaded areas and a cool breeze. The residents were all out to support and cheer us on. Great to see. Some kids had spray guns and sprayed us with a welcome shot of water.
Nearing to the 10 Km mark the course joined the coastal road. The beautiful blue sea and sky was fabulous to run passed. This was the highlight of my run. I loved looking on that beautiful calm sight.
The majority of the race was alongside the coast. First we ran a long to the town of Ovingdean, passing Roedean School on the way. The last big elevation was there. There were some “cruel” out and backs though – as you were running along, and you could see the runners come back, it looked like the turnaround was just ahead. But this usually was not the case, and it would be a left turn on to another 1km run before the actual turnaround occurred. It doesn’t matter how much I study the course map, I always forget where the turns and twists are.
Leaving Ovingdean to return back on to the Brighton coastal road, I was still doing fine. The weather was increasingly getting warmer and warmer. There was no shaded areas to keep the sun out. And there was no sea breeze to speak of. It was hotting up. Unfortunately this was where us back of the pack runners found the water stations were running out of water or cups. One station they gave me the remainder of a large bottle, as there were no cups. Another, filled my cupped hands with water for me to drink from. It did not seem so bad at the time though. I managed to get to the half way point at around 2hrs 40 mins. Not too bad, but not good for my 5hr 30mins target. Once I crossed the timing mat for recording the half marathon time I allowed myself to use the loo. This stopped me for a couple of minutes. I nearly paused my watch, but then thought the official time doesn’t stop for loo breaks so I shouldn’t! 🙂
The rest of the run was more of the same. Lovely views, wonderful crowd support and great volunteers. The cups had truly run out at the water stations though. If you got a cup, you were advised to hold on to it, so that you could fill up at the next station. At one point there was no water either. However, there were walkthrough shower points – which were so refreshing to run through in the heat – we were advised to fill our cups from them. Ordinarily, I probably would not have done that, but when needs must. At this point it was really really hot! I was sure it was around 20°C or so! Way hotter than forecasted! The earlier runners were able to help themselves to extra cups of water. That’s just some of the things that us back of the pack runners have to endure.
By the last 10km I was suffering from the heat. Well my speed was suffering. I was tired! I basically ran walked the last portion of the race. There were still cheers from the beach as we ran back along the promenade. But before the finishing straight there were a lot of the public that didn’t really take heed that there were still runners coming in. And they would just walk across with no care in the world. When the finishing straight did come in there was a clear path and the crowd that remained were cheering us in.
I saw a group of Dunstable Runners who recognised me and gave me an extra cheer! And I saw my Sister and nephew, just before the end and went and gave them a hug! That all gave me my last burst of energy to finish strong and run the last bit, and through my imaginary finishers tape!
I ended up completing the Brighton Marathon 2017 in 5hrs 50 mins 44 secs. It was over 20 minutes longer than I hoped for. I’m not totally happy with that result. It is about 6 minutes better than Bournemouth, but still slower than my first, in Ottawa. I have not been put off from running another Marathon though. I even look forward to doing another one. I am hoping to get into London Marathon next year. If not by ballot, then at least with a Charity place. But London Marathon is my goal race for next year. I can’t wait 🙂
So here’s the medal I ran for!
Did you run Brighton Marathon this year? What was your experience?
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