The Sanlam Bristol + Bath Marathon took place on Sunday 25th of October. Runners everywhere had a mass nightmare that they would be late for the run due to the clocks changing so most of us had an uneasy nights sleep despite the extra hour it offered. That meant that after wolfing down porridge and honey I shoved my backpack in the transport vans and legged it to the 4:30/5 hour starting pen outside the Mud Dock.
It was already a clear and chilly autumn day of pure golden sunshine. This meant that runners were cold even before the start as we waited around the outskirts of Queen Square. The Runner’s Village was covered in a blanket of dewy autumn leaves. Some runners were even wearing knit sweaters. I didn’t blame them as my fingers were already starting to numb.
A couple stood behind me and the lady asked nervously, ‘You look like you have all the right gear. How many marathons have you won?’ Her friend in the floral sweater had pointed out my long sleeves and watch.
I count them in my head, ‘Six, this will be my seventh… provided I finish.’
‘Six! That’s a lot! This will be our first!’ She beams.
‘Good luck,’ I say, ‘Have a great race! You’ll feel great at the end!’
After some shuffling whilst the earlier pens are let loose the Mission Impossible theme tune starts us off and it begins. This reminded me of Athens Marathon where I last heard the tune play at the start. You can spot half of my body here speeding off towards the Portway.
The Avon Gorge looked beautiful with the golden light illuminating the cliff edges and the trees. I ran a solid Half Marathon distance and then was joined by Matt who was running with his Southville Running Club friends Tom and Ben (running his first marathon). I saw my Dad and the dog Lilly, my Aunt Hannah down from Australia and Grandad Dennis all out to support among friends. Members of the Bristol and West Running Club that weren’t running were marshaling along route for support.
It ended up being a beautiful casual long run with friends where I didn’t worry about time just about finishing and enjoying it with them. My housemate Anna, my friends Scott and Lola and running club friend Karen also recorded their first marathon times. Some slower, some faster, all brought together by this one crazy event. It was amazing being around so many friends finding out how awesome it is to run a marathon and how much joy the victory brings at the end.
There literally couldn’t have been any more hills if they tried. From 16 miles onwards it was all elevation of pure undiluted hills until the decent into Bath at around 21 miles. This made the route so challenging for a road race. It was then a final loop around Bath center until the finish line. I feel like between this and the Relish race there isn’t a hill in the Bath area I haven’t ran up and down.
Victory lunch was at Aqua with Steven and Sarah. I was so happy by that point not to be out in the autumn chill. I wolfed down calamaris and a duck tagliatelle with a glass of wine.
Four days later I am still aching!