Monday, 10 November 2008

dorset coastal marathon

well, fair play to the legs this weekend - not only did they manage to support me for almost 4 and a half hours of sliding around on slick Dorset coastal slimy mud, but they felt remarkably reasonable the following day....

Dorset Coastal Marathon report.
The view in the picture was presented to us around 20 minutes into the run, by which time the tone for the day had been well and truly set as we'd made our way from the beer garden race HQ, through water logged footpaths towards the coast. The weather had been appalling for the entire drive down from London, and i was fully dressed up for it with leggings, shorts, long sleeves under my running vest - topped off with my featherlight shower proof and buff on the head. I had been shivering on the start line but within minutes of starting to run i was overheating. The rain had stopped and as we left the wooded section of foot path and broke into the open, were treated to the sight of hopeful patches of blue sky. I had no intention of rushing this race, so i stopped to remove a couple of layers of clothing. It was apparent that my lack of experience of running this terrain would be the greatest challenge for me today, as i seemed to be sliding 1 foot back, or sideways, for every 2 that i put forward! It was seriously hard going and required me to adjust from my usual race mind set to avoid the frustration. Today I had to forget about being a fast runner and enjoy the experience, the challenge, the scenery and the company. So, for the first time in a long time, i was in a race but not in a race - doing it for the fun and the giggles - chatting to people around me as we ran along, fell on our arses, grabbed handfuls of mud and brambles trying to regain some sort of traction underfoot...and were presented with a number of climbs similar to the one pictured!

Actually - getting up something like this is pretty easy once you forget about running, then forget about walking, then forget about using only half of your available limbs and realise that those clumps of grass poking out of the mud are strong enough to prevent you from sliding back to where you came from, as you don't stay still for too long. Getting down them is a trickier matter, unless you are prepared to go arse first in a manner similar to described above, or are pretty good ski-er. neither of which applies to me, so it was a case of spotting the most solid piece of ground, with the least slippery mud on it,and using it only briefly to support your weight. This requires a lot of concentration and rhythm, but i found that i became quite proficient at this during the time that we were out there.

The course route was a figure of eight loop from Worth Matravers, first heading west along the coast path before turning inland to Kimmerage and back 6 miles over fields to meet the same stretch of coast path that we started that loop on. As well as the marathon distance there was also a half marathon and 10km event with staggered start times, and it was at this point that we met the half marathoners on their way out on the loop. We had a laugh crossing on those paths, and i did feel for them having to follow our rout after it had been all churned up by our feet(and hands, and arses)..but not that much because the lucky buggers didn't have another 13 miles to run out to the Swanage peninsular and back. The second part of this figure of 8 loop was easier going; still plenty of hills and fairly slidey, and by now the paths were populated with walkers too, but there were reasonable length runnable stretches, fortunatley including the final section of inland footpaths back from Swanage to Worth Matraver.

Having been running, albeit at an easy pace, for 4 hours by this point those last miles were pretty tough. My Garmin ws telling me that i'd covered 19 miles at the last feed stop, which had been advertised as the 20 mile point - i found that a bit disheartening, but had some food and set myself psychologically for a 7 more miles knowing that this would take a further hour at the very least. I could see the runners ahead ad around me dropping pace too, and focused on remaining steady and stronger than them. I passed Jamie, a club mate, who was having a hard time too. he asked me if that was the village ahead. i told him dont get your hopes up - we have 4 miles to go yet. at the next turn our route met the 10k runners (actually most of them walkers y that time) and over heard on of them saying 'about 2km more' The guy next to me agreed that sounded very optimistic! But as the route clearly WAS approaching this village, and it was the only one for miles around, it became clear that the finish was in sight - about 4 miles sooner than i'd expected. Hilariously, the very final 300m stretch of ground was an absolute mud slick churned up by all 3 races finishing over it ...and so my sprint finish was a very subdued sprint teeter on the verge of face full of mad cow infected mud in front of a the biggest gathering of people that Worth Matraver has seen in a long while! whilst i felt pretty bad for delivering false doleful news in his moments of despair, i am sure that he didn't believe me anyway, and if he had, would have been as pleased at the surprise early finish as i was.

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