Monthly Archives: April 2014

Marathon complete – a bigger challenge awaits.


That’s my finishing time from Manchester Marathon. A personal best (PB). Happy with that.

So how did the race go? The aim was to get under 4:20. The strategy was to set off at a decent pace, 9:40 ish, ultimately aiming for just under 10 minutes per mile.

I knew this was a potentially risky strategy, going well early on with the risk of burning out later.

The forecast was ideal, 12 degrees and raining.

With the forecast in mind I decided on a thin base layer and my club vest. The start time was 9:00. It started on time.

Within a mile of the start the base layer was off, ballast for the rest of the race .

The  early pace was quick, as expected. Somewhere around 9:30 per mile. Felt like I was bagging a bit of time for later in the race. Through 10km in about an hour. 10 miles in 1:36 and half marathon in 2:06. Well on target for 4:20. The next major checkpoint was 20 miles. My PB for a 20 mile race is 3:15, I went through in 3:14. I had one hour and 5 minutes to complete the marathon and achieve my goal.

A comment from a spectator “You from Wales?” yes I replied, “Well you’ve come a long way, get a bloody move on”

I had hit the wall. Mile 22 was 11:10, over a minute slower than I needed to be. It was going to be a desperate final 4 miles.

My early pace had brought me to a walk run pace. This was going to be it for the next 50 minutes or so. Legs so tired they wanted to stop. What made them continue? Well the comment from a spectator above is a starting point. Knowing my wife was at the finish line. The phone call I would make to my children at after the finish.

Somewhere around mile 25 the stadium came in to view, not far to go. My watch was showing it could be tight to achieve a PB. The sub 4:20 had gone. Now it was sub 4:28. The turn in to Sir Matt Busby Way was wonderful, the finish straight was slightly downhill, the opportunity to stride out after struggling for 4 miles was fantastic. Unfortunately I didn’t see Wendy on the finishing straight, even though she was shouting my name.

So, 4:25:45 wasn’t too bad after all. Part one complete. Part two is 31 miles, off road, 890m of ascent: a bigger challenge awaits.

Live marathon tracking

My progress during Manchester Marathon can be tracked by clicking on this link.

Week to go and a fell race…

Few days to go before Manchester Marathon. Have I done enough? Will there be a wall at 22 miles?

Who knows…

Last Sunday was my last race before Manchester, an easy 10k would do. No, a British Championship Fell Race.

Every year Eryri Harriers make a pilgrimage to Northern Ireland for a fell race. Didn’t go last year because it was a medium distance race the week before London Marathon. This year’s race was a short. According to the details it was 6 miles and 850m of ascent. What could go wrong…

The mist descended, it was raining, the wind was blowing. Couldn’t see the summit from the start line.

The race started at noon, I took my usual place on the start line, somewhere near the back!

Once we were out of the woods and on the mountain, navigation was going to be the key. The map showed a gap in the wall and then straight up to the first summit, Millstone. So why, like a lemming, did I follow 4 or 5 runners in front of me and turn left? Lack of confidence navigating? Maybe.

I’d overtaken Maggie Oliver in the woods. I was to meet up with her again after the group I was with eventually turned to go up the mountain, that was a couple of minutes lost. Maggie and I stayed together until the summit. After the summit we agreed to run together on the descent. Compass out, a bearing of 45 degrees and off we go. Our target was a quarry, taped off for safety but also as a handrail to find CP4. After stopping a few times to check the map we spotted the quarry, ding dong, navigated perfectly. Run down through the woods and head to the finish line. 2 hours and 6 minutes, slowest 6 miles ever. Except I did 6.74, that was the lemming bit after going through the wall.

Talking to others at the finish made me realise my distance wasn’t too bad, there were stories of 7, 8 and even 9 miles. People coming off the mountain and down the wrong valley.

In the end, after the results had been veified, 15 disqualified for not making every checkpoint, I was 196 out of 252 starters, happy with that!