Well finally into double figures and quite fitting that my 10th marathon this year should start at 10:10 on 10.10.10. However, despite all the associated good luck with the dates & times this was a tough old course and probably on a par with the one I did in Newfoundland in terms of hills. Like with many of the races I entered this year, I just blindly registered without really looking into what I was letting myself in for. A couple of weeks prior to the race I read the information and it was described as “multi terrain being around 70% on tracks and paths” – they forgot to mention the fact that you start at the bottom of an old quarry and climb your way out! I knew I was going to struggle when I was about two-thirds up one of the climbs and my ears popped from the altitude… Thankfully though, there were as many downhill sections as there were ups, though these were a bit hairy in places too! The course was quite narrow in places too, forcing everyone into single-file and the surface was quite punishing on the ankles and I am feeling the effects of that today. The weather was extremely pleasant on the day too, quite a few had commented on the driving rain they had last year so I was glad to see that history was not repeating itself.
Unfortunately for me, the Berlin marathon 2 weeks ago and a heavy cold last weekend had taken their toll and I was finding the course very hard after only a few miles. This was the first time I’d actually considered retiring at the halfway point as we passed through the start area again for the second loop of the course. The cutoff was 3 hours at this point and I’d managed to get round the first 13 miles in just over 2 hours so I was comfortably within that and thought I might as well just plod on. I’d pretty much had it by 15 miles though and was struggling to put one foot in front of the other for a while. I spent most of the remainder of the race in a jog-walk pattern in which I repeatedly overtook and got overtaken by the same 7 or 8 people until we approached the last couple of miles when I started to pick it up again and managed to keep going. The last mile was all downhill back to the Eden Project site which is in the old quarry basin so at least I could let gravity do most of the work.
Organisationally, I thought this went very well. Apart from a bit of a rush at the start as there was a long queue to get into the car park and there was quite a walk between the bag drop areas and the start line. The marathon and half marathon starts were staggered and the half runners only did the second loop of the marathon so there was no danger of the course getting too crowded by the faster half runners catching up. The finish area was very well laid out and the free “pasty & a pint” voucher in the goody bag was very welcome. Whilst I may not do this particular race again I would love to come back to the Eden Project for a proper look around as the fairly quick tour I did after the race did not do it justice.