If you don’t know Phoenix Running you should go and make yourself aware now. Go. Go on. I will wait. Go. Skedaddle.
The premise is similar to the Saxon Viking Norman races with the promise of epic bling for being able to endure themed multiple lap races. This race being 4 laps of 3.3 mile there and backs, so 8 x 3.3. And their bling is epic in so many ways.
For any discerning 12 in 12’er (made up term) like me Traviss at SVN and Rik at Phoenix offer something very important. They offer midweek, and Saturday as well as Sunday races virtually every weekend. If you do embark on a 12 in 12 months, 52 in 52 weeks(Damn), 10 in 10 days (shit) or 100 in 100 weeks (that is wack!) you will need to rely on them, trust me, I’m a…
When putting together a race calendar that covers the whole year you will find the winter is slim pickings indeed. And these guys they always have races on. If you are happy to plod through ankle deep icy mud before a 7 hour cut off, then they are ok with that too. And if you do attempt the 12 in 12, 10 in 10, 52 in 52 and 100 in 100, you will be thankful for both lap races you can take your brain out, and ones with such a generous cut off when you don’t think you can physically bash out a fast road marathon time.
For the final race of the year, my 25th (the fewest races I have done in a year since 2013), and my 12th and final marathon for Pancreatic Cancer UK I signed up for the Phoenix Running Winter Marathon in Walton on Thames, part of the winter series with this epic medal at the end.
Whilst I would end up, if I was lucky, with arguably their dullest medal of the year.
It would be 4 laps starting at the banks of the Thames at the Xcel Leisure Centre, along the tow path, through a lock (maybe 2) as far as the bridge by Hampton Court. 3.3 miles there, to a turnaround point and a water station that looks more like a…
3.3 miles back to the start and another similarly stocked water station, repeat and rinse 4 times. The bag drop was a pup tent. There was no chip timing, so we relied on Rik counting the laps and writing down our time at the end. No goody bag, and probably the most disappointing thing was that I ordered a 12 in 12 medal as Phoenix and Global Marathon Challenges are the same people and I would have been awarded it at the end, but the customs and excise arsehats ruined our big day and didn’t release them. It would have been nice for me and the other lady there to get our 12 in 12 bling, but at least we got a mention along with the 100 marathons in 100 weeks runners, including an amazing guy who had run 100 marathons in just 48 weeks!! and people say I am crazy.
How I did?
With Mr and Mrs 12 in 12 unexpectedly in the field I was relaxed, confident and happy. It was supposed to be cold, the puddles were ice, near the lock, on what was the only concrete/asphalt portion of the race route there was slippery black ice and I almost went arse over elbow half a dozen times on the there and backs.
The course started frozen and fast. The first lap was an hour. The second was just over, with a toilet break. The third, a few photos, pick and mix time and a change of headgear, and somehow, with the paths getting busy, I was still moving at a decent clip.
As the day went on more and more people started using the path, a group of bike wankers at one point two abreast, an elderly walking party, dog walkers, families and shit. They broke the ice, and churned up the mud for the last lap, that I started about 3.30 in, with it all a bit precarious underfoot.
I saw the 12 in 12s every switchback as I was a few miles ahead and we exchanged pleasantries, high fives and well wishes before Mr ultimately pulled out injured. It was a shame as I would have loved to catch up with them afterwards, to get to speak properly with a couple who had been on the same adventure as me this year.
When you are just trying to finish, when time is as inconsequential as the truth in Donald Trump’s stunted presidency, knowing that sooner or later it would be over… like Donald Trump’s presidency you just keep going. And, as the winter sun finally dropped below the treeline and stopped being in my eyes (as it had been all morning), I was running to the finish and, with a handshake from Rik I was done. Job done. Halle-fucking-lujah!
I was 72nd in 5 hours 14. Not my fastest by a long way, not my slowest but a margin. It was very comfortable, it was a little emotional around the 40K mark, but through the ice, mud and bike wankers I did it. 12 in 12 done and dusted. If you think this is worthy of a few pennies for Pancreatic Cancer UK then please sponsor me here.
Much like SVN the Phoenix races fit the purpose well. Small field (100 yesterday). Good bling. 7 hour cut off. Couldn’t be more relaxed. I would recommend them for sure for the above reasons.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THE PHOENIX RUNNING WINTER MARATHON? Yes
WOULD I RUN THE PHOENIX RUNNING WINTER MARATHON AGAIN? If I needed to, if my race calendar had hit the bleak mid winter, when frosty wind made moan and races are few and far between, definitely.
Scores on the Doors
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NEXT UP: QUEEN ELIZABETH PARK 10K
Oh and my precious will look like this, when it arrives.