Sunday 9 December, 08:03
Didn’t feel well prepared, hadn’t followed a set marathon training plan since doing Yorkshire marathon in October. Had done a selection of half mara, 10k and parkruns so was ‘race fit’ but not specifically for trail marathon.
I hadn’t reccied the route but other runners at the start reassured me it was sufficiently taped and straightforward. Started toward the back with survival in mind.
The first climb was, as forecast, muddy. A steady power march, picking the best footing.
Then at the top the sun broke out and cast a warm winter glow across the fields. Soon the first view of the top of Roseberry Topping came into view.
The route took runners up and down to the far side of Roseberry, then back up to the top again and off by a different route.
Next was a longer, more gradual climb up to moorland. Lots of variety of path on this race: tarmac, rocky trail, stone slabs, terraced steps, narrow cuts through heather and heathland, and mud.
Managed to keep my spirits up, welcoming other runners, marshalls and photographer with a ‘Ho Ho Ho!’.
At the second or third checkpoint I heard the Marshall tell a lady runner doing about the same pace as me that she was 3rd woman. Made me think I was doing ok, though I was running my own race.
Up on the moors there was a bit of wind, made it much cooler and towards the end my eyes were drying out making it hard to see.
At the 22/23 mile checkpoint a marshall told me I was 40th runner. Thought I must have misheard him. But it started to dominate my thinking. I began counting my position as runners passed me and I passed them. I ran long stretches of those last miles in 36th or 37th place. Positively nose bleed positions for me, being near the top of the field, but I still wondered if the marshall was correct.
Descending the last muddy hill to Guisborough I was taking care but making good progress. Then my first fall of the race. Some mud was covering a loop of bramble or root, which trapped my right foot and sent me sprawling across the path. I put my hands out to break my fall but my face just lightly brushed the ground.
Picked my self up, muddy knees and glove but nothing broken. Pushed on, soon hitting tarmac road. Tried to remember where I was going, how far it was to the finish and where to turn. Thought there were a couple of other runners not far back so worked hard.
Suddenly I saw a runner draw level alongside me. I looked at him and just thought ‘I’m not giving up my position, whatever it is’. Exactly then I realised the turn was very close so I gave it everything and really sprinted up the drive and into the Sea Cadets building ahead of the other guy. Don’t know where that burst came from!
The two lady timekeepers looked at me, asked if I was ok. Asked if I needed first aid (no thanks, and I have a kit in my pack). Suggested I might want to wash my face, washroom is over there. Got my medal and shirt and went to see what they were talking about.
It was good to meet and chat with a few other Vegan Runners. I ran with Paresh on and off, till he took off. Chris had offered me accommodation and food, but a bit too late as I’d checked into my hotel. And Nathan works for the same place that I do, different city.
A fantastic experience and I’m pleased with my performance. Think I should have eaten more.
Official results show I was 37th out of 132 finishers, and 6th MV50 out of 22 🙂
Distance: 30.2 miles
Time: official 6:31:19, Suunto 6:31:15
Avg pace: 12:55 min/mile
Trainers: inov8 x-claw 275
Ran this with my twin brother Jeff. Weather wet and cool. We adopted a run/walk pattern to maximise the chances of Jeff completing it with recent recovery from Achilles trouble. It was a good call, helped us both at times, and our finish time was the best we could reasonably have expected.
The weather really was horrible and the slight breeze chilled my hands badly. Good job I’d layered up well. Noted the need for an unusual number of pit stops.
As usual we smiled our way around, and got a good shout out from the finish line announcer – “TWIIIINS!!”
Distance: official 26.2 miles; Tom Tom 26.3 miles
Time: official 4:38:35; Tom Tom 4:38:36
Avg pace: 10:28 min/mile
Trainers: Brooks Ghost 10
Sunday 8 April, 09:42
8C, bright but overcast, slight breeze. Ideal running conditions. The start was delayed due to police dealing with something on the route.
I’d met a few vegan runners outside the Crucible before the race. Felt calm and ready.
The race climbed gradually up Ecclesall Road, then got steeper. Passed Zaz from the VR group just after Endcliffe Park. Feeling strong and legs bouncy on the hills. Seemed to pass a lot of slower runners, my trail racing paying off.
After 6 miles the route turned left towards Dore & Totley. Somewhere round mile 7-ish I looked across and saw Billy Sharp (SUFC) in the crowd. I shouted “Billy”, (waved) “It’s Billy Sharp!!” Laughed and sped onwards. Best bit of the race!
From here it was mostly downhill, still running by feel rather than Tom Tom watch. Pressed on and tried hard down Eccy Road, there had been the odd shout here and there ‘go vegan runner’. Big crowds except for the country part.
I’d been checking off the mile markers and with a mile to go I gritted my teeth and pushed harder. Up Charter Row and Pinstone Street I gave it everything. Left it all out on the course.
Really pleased to knock 10 minutes off my best time for this race. Surprised at the average pace, given the 5 miles of uphill.
Distance: 13.18 miles
Time: official 1:42:58, Tom Tom 1:42:52
Avg pace: 7:46 min/mile
Trainers: Brooks Ghost 10
7C, cool, overcast. Rising only slightly in temp, ideal running weather.
Met up with Emma and Ash at the marathon start, gave Emma some words of encouragement for her 5k, and showed her a dropped manhole hazard on the finishing shute.
I was in wave 3 so had a 10 minute wait from the actual start. I didn’t see any pacers near me in that wave (more on pacers later). When the wave was set off it seemed very busy for the first couple of miles, slowed me slightly but that’s ok. Then I saw I’d done a fast (for me) 3rd mile split, 7:16 min/mile. I’d been aiming for about a minute slower… knew I’d gone off too fast.
Miles 4-7 were also sub-8 min/mile. Oh no, but felt ok. My pace then dropped naturally to what I’d been doing on 20 mile runs, around 8:15-8:25. Heel felt ok, actually improved on the run. I passed a 4 hour pace group after 5 miles, then the 3:45 pace group at 9 miles. I didn’t know how far ahead they’d started, but knew I was going too fast. Saw I’d done first half in 1:47, hmmm. A pit stop at 14 miles let the 3:45 pacer just back in front, took over a mile to reel them in. Thought about tagging along but legs felt ok so just eased ahead, kept going.
A few spectators shouted ‘go Steve’ etc, and a group on cycles kept passing, pausing, then passing again, and they kept calling my name.
In the middle miles I knew my legs were tiring but no niggles apart from the usual left adductor stiffening up. I pressed on…
The mile 22 marker seemed to be missing, and it was a relief to see mile 23. Then turned into a southerly headwind. About mile 24 I saw my total race time was 3:23, and I simply calculated a couple of 8:30 miles would put me close to Jeff’s marathon PB. That helped me up the pace, from mile 24 at 8:52, to mile 25 at 8:37 and mile 26 at 8:15. I’d remembered what Jeff said setting his PB; he tried slowing down and speeding up and the tiredness and pain were the same, so he went for it. That’s what I did, literally ‘sprinting’ the last half mile including finishing shute.
I saw Emma in the crowd, waved, and the announcer called out my name amongst others running in. I felt really emotional again, I often do at a mara finish. I knew I’d done my best. Heading through the finish area I collected food, drink, free beanie hat. Visited the results tent and read the printout in disbelief: sub-3:40 by 2 seconds. More tears and sobbing.
I could not find family so headed back to the hotel, couple of blocks away. Reception gave me another door key and I called from there. Seems I’d missed the finish area exit point, they were worried I’d be in the medical tent collapsed or worse!
So, best ever marathon time, knocking 32 minutes off PB. It’s going to be hard to beat that time, but I just want to enjoy my running regardless of time.
One change I plan which should help my fitness is, after celebrating today’s marathon, I’ll be trying a vegan diet or as close as I can get. Think cleaner fuel will help, just need to be careful and eat a variety of good whole foods.
Distance: 26.2 miles (TT 26.33 miles)
Time: 3:39:58. (TT 3:39:59)
Avg pace: Official 8:24 min/mile (TT 8:19 min/mile)
Trainers: Brooks Ghost 10
After completing the NY marathon the preceding Sunday my legs felt ok but not full of energy. The day began with a 4am bus up to the Crystal Lake camp area above 5000ft. Don’t know if it’s lucky or unlucky like a black cat, but a raccoon crossed my path as I walked to the line of buses. The organisers set off each bus as it was full to do the winding climb up the canyon, which took about an hour and a quarter. My bus was almost driven off the road by a U-haul van, which turned out to be for the bag pick up.
I got a coffee and tried to keep warm. Then as 7am approached I applied sun cream and started final prep. There seemed to be several hundred runners there for the marathon, not sure exactly how many.
The start seemed to go off with a shout rather than a gun. Straight away it was downhill, and I noted a lot of the road had a steep camber. This soon started to affect me with my left hip and knee niggling a bit. I’d let the 4h pacer start way ahead of me but I seemed to quickly fly past him and his small crowd, though I was trying to be sensible. My watch was telling me what a stupidly fast pace I was doing! A bit further and I flew past the woman pacer with a 3h40 flag. I was beginning to get worried….
By around 8 miles the downhill was seriously affecting my quads and I knew I was headed for big trouble. The water points were every 2-3 miles and I was taking water at most of them. I went through halfway in a PB time, 1h44, but was realistic to know I couldn’t double that to get my finish time. By 17 miles I began a run/walk strategy. At first walking the few uphills, then just alternating walking and running downhill.
There were zero spectators. Just the occasional escorted convoy of vehicles using the uphill lane. So different to New York. But beautiful scenery and I was enjoying it. By around 22-23 miles the sun started to break through the cloud and it really began to warm up. Occasional scattered spectators stood outside of their houses. By now I was walking more than running, but still hoping to do a good time. The two pacers I mentioned had passed me by the 23 mile marker so I knew I’d be outside four hours.
By 25 miles my mental maths wasn’t doing that great and I figured I was going to miss a PB. Then a spectator shouted that the 26 mile marker was just round that corner, so I took heart and started jogging a bit more. He wasn’t being entirely truthful but it did help me to get a PB!
There was a small crowd near the finish line, and I think the announcer called out my name as I approached the line. I was in such discomfort I can’t be sure, but I did manage to strike a pose for the cameraman.
The medal is enormous and I got water, slice of pizza and foil blanket very quickly. The baggage pick up was so efficient it only took 10 seconds to get my bag, which was handed over with a smile. Brilliant.
I found plenty of blisters afterwards, and struggled to walk etc for about three days. So I have learned I need to do course specific training if I do another downhill course. But it was very enjoyable and the organisation was superb. Well done Revel.
Official timing: 4h 12m 2s
Temp started around 6C and climbed to around 25C (car dash said 29C when I got back to hotel)
Time: 4:12:02 (2 mins off 0ff PB)
Avg pace: 5:58 min/km
The day started early with a walk from the hotel to catch a bus at the main library. We were escorted by a tour rep and it was the start of a well oiled event.
The sun was coming up as the bus went past the Brooklyn Bridge.
Waited in the staging area with Jeff and tried to keep warm. Eventually found the coffee and facilities. I didn’t really get nervous or stressed as the time for wave 3 approached. Perhaps I’ve done enough marathons now to know what to expect and to save energy. Then wave 3 was called forward and we moved onto the bridge…
Then the big gun went off and the race began. What I recall is a massive amount of support, big crowds round most of the route. Lots of encouragement and noise. Started at a comfortable pace and with the wide roads didn’t seem to have a problem moving around and finding space to run. Took water at most of the water points, and a couple of pit stops. I recall one runner coming across after a few miles to say he’d heard our names (“Jeff and Steve”) shouted out over a hundred times 🙂 I felt the effort approaching halfway, but we kept going. Never any doubt we’d run to the end and finish. I can also remember the run up 5th Avenue, the wide road, sun in the faces of the crowd, the straight road ahead climbing slightly. There were even big crowds in Central Park and soon the finish line came in view.
I got a bit light headed after the finish, but soon recovered and started the long walk through the park to get out.
Overall, I thought the race was the biggest and best one I’ve done so far. It exceeded expectations and is the pinnacle for me, will be tough to beat. Finished with very tired body but no significant injuries, which is just as well as I’d booked another marathon for the following Saturday!
Official time: 4h 28m 11s
Temp about 7C and sunny, rising to maybe 16/17C I think
Avg pace: 6:11 min/km
Sunday 10 April
Sunny, cold to start (4C) rising rapidly to 12C.
Breakfast at 04:10, two porridge pots and coffee. Met up with Jeff early, 06:00, to get the car spaces we wanted. It was below freezing so took our time preparing and got over to the race village about 08:10.
Ditched a thick top as I passed the start line and tried to keep the pace easy. Was carried along about 5:40 min/km pace and would have ideally been more like 6:00 min/km. Followed the 4 hour pacer from a distance , until a pit stop came along.
Jeff had a nose bleed at 1km, took a bit of tissue from a helpful runner to stem it. Good job we wore red running vests.
The crowds and stewards were brilliant. The blue skies and pleasant temperature made it more pleasant for them and the runners. I wasn’t really counting off the miles for the first part, so Altrincham (halfway) came up a bit earlier than expected. After this point the balls of my feet began to get a bit sore. Just from all the pounding I think.
Had gels at 8km, 15km, 25km, 35km and somewhere around 39km. Drank water throughout picking up a fresh bottle every third water stop or thereabouts. Started to slow drastically with 4-5 miles to go. Head started to turn fuzzy too, so adopted a walk – run – walk pattern. Noticed ribs ached a bit probably due to arm movements.
Ran the last km and over the finish line, with relief, happiness and a lot of emotion. Later I found only minor blisters, no injuries or strains. Right heel is stiffening slightly as expected. Will take a few days off running, then start to think about the next race, which is in 30 weeks…
Distance: 26.2 miles (Garmin measured 42.66km)
Time : 4:19:03
Avg HR: no data
Avg pace: 6:04 min/km
Brooks Ghost trainers