My Marathons in a Nutshell – Caterina Presi

Next up on my marathons in a nutshell is academia’s finest Italian racer Cat Presi and her ten maras and counting.  I was lucky enough to run with Cat at Tatton Half last year and am looking forward to the next time we get to race.

Yorkshire Marathon 2016 was my first marathon and means a lot to me. I ran it for my son Dylan and JDRFUK, my mum came over to visit so I could train. On the day, the route included running in front of York Minster, high fiving a vicar and meeting so many ukrunchat friends en route. Crossing that finish line was a dream come true!

Christmas Cracker Marathon 2016 took place along the Leeds Liverpool canal. I have this ‘tradition’ that I must do things twice to make sure that I can do them, so my second marathon meant almost as much as the first one. The canal route is flat and easy, I ‘ran happy’ all the way in the company of @lufcColin and with a sprint finish I made it official: I love marathons!

Newark Showground Christmas challenge 2016. This was a sneaky addition. With 6 hours to do as many laps as one can and wants, in a flat but a little twisty route, I had a private ambition to go over the marathon distance, two weeks after my last race! I took it in steps: 4 laps for half marathon, 8 for marathon, all the others a bonus. At 32 miles at 5:15, this was my first ultra!

Sir Titus trot marathon 2017. New Year, new marathon. Along the canal in Slaithwaite in Yorkshire, locally Slawit, it turned out to be a mud bath. Even staying upright was a challenge! It was January in Yorkshire after all and a bit of mud is to be expected. I also learned who Sir Titus was, I love local races with a touch of history.

Canal Canter Ultra 2017. This is the same as the Christmas race: an easy flat route. I was meant to do another ultra that month but couldn’t so my son suggested I up the distance here. As it turns out I ended up with 1st lady! It was hard to be honest, from mile 20 I had to push but with a sprint finish as per tradition. Quite hilarious was seeing people’s puzzled expressions as I ran pass them while eating crisps (for salt) en route…I think they thought I was crazy!

While everybody else was running in London (or it felt like that), I was running Blackpool marathon 2017.   My first time in Blackpool was quite an experience. The peaceful sea contrasts with the colourful and at time noisy shops and pubs along the promenade. A two-lap marathon is tough: seeing mile 20 sign on the first lap plays tricks on your mind. I had a good race nonetheless. After finding some hidden strength between miles 17-20, at mile 22 I realised a sub-4hours was possible, so I pushed, hurt and sprint finished to 3:58!

Liverpool RnR marathon 2017 was fun! What’s not to like about live music while you run a marathon? Highlights included dancing to “Great Balls of Fire” mid-marathon, the people of Liverpool were lovely, another great ukrunchat tweetup, and – do you remember my 2 times rule? – this was my second sub 4hours at 3:55. I will back again next year!

Huddersfield marathon 2017 describes itself as the toughest road marathon in the UK and it definitely is hilly! It is my local race so conquering this was important to me. The hills going up were steep but runners supported each other, even when the photographer showed up on top of the big hill! The downhill was my demise, steep and tarmac don’t agree with my hips! It was hard to get passed because I was in pain, and I was glad to take it home in 4:28 (mentally I had to get it below 4:30). I’ve signed up for next year, but we shall see.

Snickerthon marathon is a lap race (8 for marathon) around a reservoir. I don’t know why but I found it a bit boring and my hips did not like running on the gravel in parts. I made it ok, pushed at the end as I wanted to finish, and to my surprise I was 2nd lady. I guess in some races you just learn to carry on.

Blacksheep brewery 6 hour challenge. Another local lap race, but on a greener multi-terrain route. There was really a bit of everything, including gates to pass, fallen down trees to duck under (it got harder and harder to duck down!). Lap races teach you how the same place can feel so different at different times, and to savour the moment. The highlight was encountering a very tall black horse enroute. I was amazed, he was unflinching. My 10th marathon had a great medal and I was first lady for the distance! J

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