Kielder Marathon 2013


[Sun 6th Oct] 


Somehow, I found myself standing at the start line about to begin my first marathon - this wasn't any old marathon though. This was the Kielder marathon, not on tarmac and not flat which immediately takes me out of my comfort zone.

I don't even know how I came to be here, it definitely wasn't a part of my running plan!

With a couple of minutes to go I left the safety of the Blyth huddle and made my way to the front and stood next to the elite looking marathon runners who were eyeing each other up and down trying to figure out who was going to be a threat. I'd decided to grow a beard for the occasion so that I at least looked the part and I feel this helped intimidate my opponents - they needn't have worried!!

The 10 second countdown began with the advice from the Blyth contingent ringing in my ears "don't go off too fast".

Off we went... The plan was to run 7.40 miles all the way around, this would get me a finish time of around 3hrs 20mins. Within 100 metres at least 40 runners had flown past me - Union Jack shorts guy (he'll not last long), energetic runner (I'd see him again). They kept on coming but don't worry, just run your own race.... 7.28 for the first mile - happy with that!!

The first few miles went quickly and I felt good but did need to take a wee pit stop at 5 miles which cost me more places. The Cragside "wee while running" technique, I'd decided to be too risky!

The 7.40 per mile tactic was working well and I reached the halfway point in 1hr 37mins - slightly ahead of schedule but I was feeling good.

I'd been passing other runners quite frequently over the previous few miles. Slowing on the uphill's and relaxing on the downhill's while others exerted too much energy.

Union Jack shorts and energetic runner had been dispatched sometime ago and things were looking good.

By the time I'd reached Kielder dam at 18 miles I'd got myself into a top 25 position and a 3.15 finishing time was a possibility. Confidently thinking to myself that marathon running is easy and the hills aren't  bad at all..... But nothing could prepare me for what was about to come.

20 miles, total body shutdown!! No amount of isotonic drinks or energy gels were going to fix this. My pace dropped by a minute per mile, the niggles became agonising and the hills turned into mountains. I'd underestimated the marathon, it was all about finishing now and I didn't know how I was going to do it.

"Keep on chipping away mate" shouted a voice from the trees... Those words were exactly what I needed to hear and were repeated continuously in my head over the slow, painful miles to the finish.

And what a sight the finish was... 3hrs 25mins and despite dropping countless places over the last few miles, I'd managed to finish in 39th position. Absolutely delighted but completely broken!!

I have a new found respect for those of you who run marathon's regularly. It's an amazing achievement and a challenge that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Well done to Iain (3:53), Suzie (3:58), Dave B 4:00), Julie (4:30), Adele (4:24) and Davina (4:25) for winning their own battles. I'm not sure if it's one I'll ever tackle again.

Thanks for the advice and encouragement. You're all brilliant.




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