‘You not wearing your hi-viz jacket?’ asks Rox. ‘Nope, weather forecast looked alright and it seems quite warm – think I’ll be alright’.
‘Was thinking it’d be easier for mountain rescue to spot you’ were the final words of encouragement from Rox before I made my way to the start line.
I was just happy to be here. 3 weeks ago when I did something to my calf I really didn’t think this would be happening. I wasn’t sure how far along the course I would make it, so vowed just to go for it and see what happens. I know from past experience that I also run much better when running regularly, so having the last 3 weeks off to let my calf recover was less than ideal preparation.
Catching up with Marathon Ste from Liverpool Running Club at the start was great and I’d spend most of the opening 8 miles running with him and Hayley.
The opening 2 miles are undulating and I set off at a fair pace thinking about bagging some time, half knowing that I was expecting to do some kind of walk/run strategy towards the end. Then came the 1st significant climb, and I made it to about half a mile from the top before being sensible and walking to make it easier on my calf.
Cresting the climb the view was spectacular (unlike last year where we were greeted with a wall of fog). Of course this year I’d decided not to run with my phone.
The downhill then came and I opened my legs, things were feeling fairly good and I was keen to grab some time back. After this the ‘flat’ sections from last year suddenly appeared much hillier – evidently I must have been fitter last year. I can remember a hill at Mile 10 and thinking ‘but the next climb doesn’t start until Mile 14’.
The 2nd Climb (and the start of the Walk)
Mile 14 saw me decide to walk and I spent the 2 miles climbing the hill trying to do maths in my head for potential finish times. It was looking like 5hr 30m, unless I started running some significant distance again – at that point I resolved to hold out for a sub 5 hour marathon.
The Final Climb and Muddy Descent
With much more running happening from Miles 16 through to Miles 22 (albeit being accompanied with a cramping calf) saw the sub 5 hour marathon being firmly on the cards.
The climb from 22 to 24.5 miles was very much a walking affair, and even with walking my heart rate was very high. The wall of fog hid the top of the climb (the flap jack at feed station at Mile 24 was most welcome) and cresting the hill again I opened my legs and started running hard, fully confident to having 22 minutes to run 2 down hill miles. Unfortunately the grass had changed to mud, and my Hokas really weren’t cut out for mud. I started slipping and sliding everywhere and decided walking was a better strategy – however this still resulted in just slipping and sliding everywhere.
This scuppered all hope of sub 5 hours. A new personal worst at marathon distance, but I couldn’t care less. I’d arrived at the start and somehow made it to the finish.
This was going to be my last Snowdonia marathon, but it now feels like I’ve got a little unfinished business so I’ll be back next year, hopefully with a build up to allow a performance to be put together.
Its such a fantastic event with great support throughout. Some of the highlights from this year were the people from MK at an aid station who recognised the Willen Hospice top, and then speaking to a Redway Runner who had run for Willen at London in 2014.
A week of recovery coming up and then back into it hard ready for Country to Capital Ultra in January – which I’ll be woefully under-prepared for, before then turning attention to a big build for MK Marathon in May,
Willen Hospice and MK Marathon 2017
In May 2017 I ran MK Marathon and Stirling Marathon. Now thoughts turn to Snowdonia Marathon in October to raise funds and awareness for Willen Hospice, an amazing local charity. I’ll be blogging my journey from here to the finish line. If you’re in a position to make a donation, however small, it’d be greatly appreciated. My JustGiving page is here, or alternatively you can text ‘GBMK50 £3’ to 70070 to make a £3 donation.
Many, many thanks to those who have donated so far, it really is appreciated, and really helped out at about Mile 19, Mile 20, Mile 21, Mile 21.5, Mile 22, Mile 22.5….