A new series of blog posts where I ask individuals or groups to summarise their marathons to date. Kicking off we have me, RunnersKnees…
- BERLIN 2015
99 Red Balloons, Kraftwerk and Rudi Voller’s perm, the Germans have given us so much and for me it was my first marathon. Superbly organised and supported throughout, iconic start/finish at the Brandenburg Gate among giant inflatable Erdinger beer bottles. Definitely do the Breakfast Run the day before, but don’t walk 8 miles back to your hotel afterwards like I did. Spanner.
- MANCHESTER 2016
Manchester la-la-la! Swaggering like Liam throughout, and as grumpy as Noel at the end. Good support but flawed in the year I did it due to bag drop fiasco and then clusterfuck in the Race Village at the end. Water tables were a bit samey, but I would recommend and at least it measured the right distance that year.
- COPENHAGEN 2016
Loved it, loved it, loved it from my name on the Roll of Honour at the EXPO to the PB Bell in the Race Village. A very hot day, but a lovely city. The only real downside was the fact Nike didn’t spell adrenaline correctly on the race tee. Recommend the race, the city can be very pricey, and the merchandise needs spell checking.
- RACE TO THE KING 2016
My first trail marathon and it was an eye opener. Start in a field, run through fields, clamber over kissing gates and stiles, cows, and mud. I didn’t like the experience as I was living it, but am glad I did it in the end. Oh and the end was a bit of a disaster. No photos, no medal (you had to go find it), no celebration. A huge anti-climax. And then no way of getting home for hours. Wouldn’t do the marathon again, would have to do the full. If Race to the King was a cake, it would be a very dry fruit cake your nan made and you have to eat the huge chunk she cut for you out of your love for the old dear. So dry you try to swill it down with the tea she makes that is so strong the spoon stands up all the way to the chalky deposit at the bottom of the cup, and with unexpected and unpleasant moist parts, probably with glace cherries and dried candied fruit that you want to try to forget. And yes, much like being dropped at your nan’s for the day, we had to rely on someone to come and give us a lift home.
- BEACHY HEAD 2016
Starts as it means to go on, with an el bastardo of a hill. The seven sisters at the end are the highlight for some, but you have run up steps and plenty of other hills before then. Not a fan of the walkers starting early. But really liked this one. Sausage rolls, hot tomato soup and hot cross buns at mile 16, who can argue with that?
- ATHENS 2016
Truly epic. Starts in Marathon, yes, THE Marathon, and you run along the motorway all the way to Athens. Locals cheer you as you run alongside sun drenched olive groves. They give you olive branches to carry. You pass statues of Pheidippides. The route is almost completely uphill until you hit Athens and then it is a fast downhill, under the Acropolis, and into original Olympic Stadium with crowds cheering and runners dressed as Spartans. As I said, truly epic. Makes you want to shout THIS IS SPARTA! at the top of your lungs. But you would be wrong for it is technically Athens.
- CAKEATHON 2017
Running for 6 hours of 4 mile laps in an icy country park in deepest, darkest Kent with cake at the race HQ at the end of every lap. Frozen for most of the race, melted when out in the sun. Huge medal, a lot of cake, and a modicum of willpower needed to get around.
- PORTLAND COASTAL 2017
Most difficult marathon I have run. Starts and ends with a hill worse than anything encountered at Beachy Head. A 13 mile there and back including sheer cliffs, hills, endless mud, and no support. If it was raining, or frozen, or windy, it would have been intolerable. I was technically the last person to make the 6 hour cut off, so there is something to be proud of. It was the marathon equivalent of getting a tattoo removed with a cheese grater – painful, but you look back on it and think it was a wise idea. After all, no self-respecting grown man should have Bart Simpson inked on his arse anyhow.
- BARCELONA 2017
Was wonderful, running past Sagrada Familia, and down as far as the beach. Great start and finish area, but they let family, inc kids, elderly relatives, any random octogenarian in a wheelchair and babies in strollers in the final straight to cross the line with the runners. Cute if this is your home town, but as annoying as balls if not. Would recommend this one highly. Water stops every 2K because it was, for want of an accurate term, scorchio! The sheer volume of men and women peeing on the Nou Camp was both a high and a lowlight.
- BRIGHTON 2017
Battles with Manchester to be the no.2 marathon in the UK after London and rightfully so. The race village is a disaster as they let the families in (like Manchester). Runnin’ down the avenue, See how the sun shines brightly in the city, On the streets where once was pity, Mister blue sky is living here today, hey hey. Yes, Mr Blue Sky, it was very hot and the race ran out of water and/or cups depending on the water table. How can it be called a water table if there is no water? The industrial park was pretty brutal, but the residential street heading towards Shoreham was worse. Could have been fast, but was just too hot.
- LONDON 2017
The big daddy of marathons, and on my manor too. Overcrowded in a lot of areas, as we don’t have the 3-6 lane roads of Europe to open. Amazing support. And knowing the city, as I do, you are always aware of just how far you have to go and what is coming up. I do prefer periods of quiet, so don’t feel guilty about slowing or walking, but there is very little to moan about as I ticked off my second major. Injured myself at mile 10ish. So was a bit limpy for the second half. Did beat my younger brother, though, so #winning.
- MILTON KEYNES 2017
Excellent organisation, medal, tee, bag drop, communication but a very dull course of roundabouts and underpasses. But, and this is the rub, I was completely ok with that. 8 days after London and the craziness of crowds and razzmatazz and TV cameras and celebs, it was so quiet at times I could run/walk to my heart’s content. No Mile 23 Marker as apparently it was stolen. Plenty of post-race banter turned the race onto the idea that it was funny.
NEXT UP: JENNI MORRIS