Well that’s the Duchy Marathon ticked off the list and a new PB of 3:52:17 despite a route that had some pretty mean gradients and an unwelcome headwind so I’m very pleased with that.
This was a two lap race around the local roads of Redruth and across the downs along the Cornish coastline. Aside from the wind (around 17-20 knots) the weather was very pleasant – chilly but very sunny throughout so none of the hailstorms and rain that apparently plagued the event last year. However, during the first lap you could be fooled into wondering where the hell the wind had gone because after the initial 1 mile run down to the first turn into the loop the wind just disappeared and throughout the next 7 miles the route was very encouraging with a good pace and easily manageable gradients. However, the bogey man was waiting around the corner after that when you turned a sharp left and suddenly there was a mean looking hill with a headwind that just appeared out of nowhere! It became apparent that the hedgerows and rolling hills were sheilding us from that wind and now it was payback time. Just to add insult to injury as this was all piling on we passed the 20-mile marker (for the second lap) and at that point you realise that this is what would be waiting for you with 6 miles to go! From this point on the winds and gradients were relentless. There were a couple of lulls as we disappeared into a small stream valley but then we started to head back into town onto a very undulating road. I was relieved to see the sign directing you to hang a left if you were doing another lap or going straight on to finish as I now had a landmark for the second lap. After turning left we were back into the windless wonderland which helped regain some of the pace but as expected, at 20 miles the conditions were not what you wanted!
As the last three miles approached the “finish fever” took over and I was constantly watching the pace/time on my Garmin as I was fully confident by then that a sub-4:00 was within reach and the route had a nice suprise up it’s sleeve with a long easy downhill section to the finish 🙂
This is one I would do again but weather is definitely a limiting factor and being coastal you have to expect the sea breezes. Having said that, the organisation was first rate with helpful friendly marshallers and a good degree of support from spectators. Having the start and finish in the hotel car park was fantastic as all the facilities were there and as you might expect, traditional Cornish pasties were waiting for all finishers.
So, onto the next one and this time I have a bit longer to recover as the Stratford Marathon is much later in the month which will be very welcome after the first three were so close together.