The Kielder Marathons
By the time I'd reached mile 20 last year, I remember thinking to myself "I'm never ever doing this again", but with the painful memories of 2013 faded enough for me to think that this was a good idea again, there I was on the start line about to tackle my second marathon and second Kielder.
With the second attempt at any race comes the added pressure of having a time to beat, this race was no exception. 3.25.17 was last year's effort and for some reason I thought I could take 10 minutes off that and achieve a sub 3.15 finish. The only problem with this plan was the fact that I'd only trained over 15 miles twice, a statistic which I was trying my best to put to the back of my mind.
Anyway, I'd prepared the best I could on the run up to the event, resting and eating right. Even to the point of choosing the pasta option in the Anglers Arms the night before, while my missus, Ali and her Aces (Lynn, Jennifer & Andrea, who had all took part in the 10k race earlier in the day) ploughed through Kielder cobbler, scampi & chips and an array of delightful looking puddings!!
After saying hello to a few familiar faces, including Davina, Adele & Scott Legge and marvelling at the soon to be 3 time Kielder champion Ceri Rees, it was time for the race to start in absolutely perfect conditions for running.
Mile 1 certainly prepares your legs for the challenges ahead by climbing steadily before plummeting back downhill towards the crowds at the finish area, this area would be a very welcome sight in a few hours time.
The first hour of running passed by in the blink of an eye and I felt like I'd settled in to a nice rhythm, averaging around 7.20 per mile. I managed to tag onto 2 other runners for a few miles which was a welcome break from the loneliness of running alone.
I reached halfway in just under 1.35 and was welcomed by the most beautiful sight imaginable.... The Cuthbertson brothers, who had pedalled the opposite way around the course to offer some encouragement.
Mile 13-16 is definitely not my favourite section, it's not very scenic compared to the rest of the course and is just plain hard work with some nasty little climbs.
Mile 17 brings the dreaded Kielder dam where it all started going wrong last year but just as I approached it, Lee appears again on his mountain bike like a knight in shining armour on horseback to help me through this tough section. It's the most exposed area of the course and we were faced with a full mile into a strong headwind but I reached the other side feeling strong.
I can't pinpoint exactly when but somewhere between miles 20-22 it all started going a bit pear shaped - and by the time I'd ran/walked up the toughest hill on the course at mile 22, the remaining energy I had was all but gone. The last few miles were going to be tough again!!
Luckily I had Mr Motivator by my side to keep me going - handing me water and jelly babies when needed and generally just keeping me positive. My legs were cramping badly at this point and every step was agonising but the finish was getting closer.
In the last 2 miles I got passed by 6 runners including the first lady but I wasn't bothered about time or position by this point , I just wanted to finish.
The 26 mile beep on my watch was music to my ears and I even managed a sort of sprint over the last 200 metres to cross the finish line. As soon as I stopped though for some strange reason I burst into tears, not from being emotional but probably from the huge effort I'd just exerted. What a wuss!!! Then came the pain in my thighs, I hit the floor with the muscles in my legs in an agonising spasm and couldn't get back up again. A combination of my missus, a kind police officer and half of Ali's Aces helped me into the tent where I took on some energy gels, sugary drinks and received a massage. I'll be the first to admit that I was in a bad way for half an hour or so..... I'm now banned from taking part in any further marathons (we'll see about that).
My finish time was 3.18.58 (pb by 6 and a bit mins) and finishing position was 29th (improvement of 20 places). Partially broken but completely delighted!!
Well done to the other Blyth runners that conquered the hills -
Davina Lonsdale - 4.26.55
Adele Lonsdale - 4.26.55
Scott Legge - 4.39.00