The date October the 12th 2014 had been on my mind for a good 6 months and it had finally arrived, it was Yorkshire marathon today , woo hooo !.
The day started early with my alarm set for 5:25am, having packed everything the night before bar drinks it was time to get my porridge down my neck and get changed into my running kit.
Right on the dot at 6am Peter Holmback turned up, who had very kindly agreed to take the four of us competing down to York and back.
As I was putting my bags in the boot Graeme Stewart turned up with Steven French, spot on.
We quickly got sorted and got on the road to pick up the last member of the gang, Mr Brad CLough, which we duly did and got on the road down the A19 towards York. The roads were nice and clear as we made good time down towards our Park and ride at Elvington Airfield just outside of York.
Around 8 am just 10 miles from Elvington the predicted fog descended and it took quite a while to do the last 1/2 mile onto the airfield. We decamped and made our way to the buses as it was now only 1 hour till the start at 9:30.
We got safely to the drop off point in York quite near to the start and made our way to the Baggage drop , where we disrobed and got ready to rock and roll, it was rather chilly in the fog, a measly 8deg C, but with no wind to speak of it was perfect conditions. We just had time for a quick photo then we jumped into our starting pens at 9:20am, perfect timing.
We were all running from zone one and Brad made his way further to the front as Graeme, Steven and I started off together. Steven and I had planned to run together to get ourselves under 3:30. Graeme was soon pulling away from us and Steven and I made good progress for the first 2 miles, albeit a little bit quickly !. Steven was keen to push on but I kept nagging him to slow down and we soon settled into our target pace of 7:45min/mile.
Our plan was to stay ahead of the 3:30 pacer then tag on the back of him should he catch us up.
The route out of York was pretty good with plenty of supporters out cheering us on and we made our way into the countryside, all the time shrouded in the fog that was to last the whole race, only starting to clear in the last few miles.
Steven and I made great progress over the first 10 miles and started our fueling early with a cheeky gel at 6 miles then another at 10 along with water and the rather sickly Powerade from the many stations that dotted the course very regularly. We went through 10 miles in just of 1:17 which was spot on schedule. The course is billed as a flat course, but whilst not in the league of Kielder it was fairly lumpy in places, more of that later.
We went through the next significant milestone, half way, in 1:43, again more or less spot on schedule. Now that's the warm up done, time for the main event. Just after this we hit the first of 2 switchbacks where you run down one side of the road and back up same road on the other side, firstly passing those ahead of you, turning, then passing those behind you. It was on the way back up the road that we caught site of the 3:30 pacer, closer than we would have liked only a couple of minutes behind us, this gave Steven and I the impetuous to push on a bit to make sure we stayed under 7:50min miles.
It was then count down time, the next milestone being 10 miles to go which we passed without incident and with another gel and some more water and powerade we pushed on. We were now getting a little weary , my quads were certainly making their presence known but we pushed on, churning out the miles.
At 16.5 we came to our 2nd out and back section, this one was ,quite frankly, a bit of a bugger.
Not long after we started passing the quicker runners coming up the hill we saw Brad for the first time since the start making cracking progress , looking strong and composed as he powered past us, next it was Graeme's turn to pass us , again looking in good shape
I had stupidly not made a mental note of how far down we had to run before the turn back up the hill, all the time dreading the journey back up as it looked as though it was hurting our quicker competitors.
Eventually we got to the turning point, roughly 1.7 miles from the start of the section to head back up the hill. The support at this point was fantastic with loads of cheers from the assembled well wishers, the race had been really well supported up to this point and it got even better as we closed in on our target.
Steven and I dug in and dragged our butts up the hill, thankfully it wasn't too bad but not long after the turn we saw the 3:30 pace man with his gaggle of runners coming towards us, and the gap seemed to have closed a bit, and so with this we dug deep, downed another gel and got on with it. We finally made it to the top and dived down to the left back towards York, taking a moment to catch our breath and enjoying the respite of a slight downward incline. Since we had dropped to 8 min pace for a mile or so we spurred each other on to pick it back up and at that point we passed the 20 mile marker in 2:37, which with a bit of mental arithmetic meant we just need to do the last 10K in 53 mins, and we both thought , we can do this !.
From this point we started to pick up a few places, which spurred us on further, getting closer to our goal !
So on we went, through another little town, more lovely well wishers with plenty of jelly babies which were gratefully accepted, consumed, chocked upon. All of which give us the energy to keep going.
At about 23 miles Stephen happened to look behind us and saw that the 3:30 pace man had closed the gap and this gave us the push we needed to pick our speed up and crack on, we both thought , no flipping way is he catching us !. This was to be quite a pivotal point and gave us exactly what we needed to push on.
We were really motoring now, or so it felt, as we started passing even more people, with even more crowds cheering us on it really helped us through the pain.
And so we were through 25 mile and now it wasn't a question of if we would break 3:30 but by how much, this was a tremendous feeling ! we were halfway through the last mile and turned a sharp left towards the finish, up a flipping massive hill, great! wasn't expecting that one, it was a good 400m drag, but this wasn't going to stop us now, so yet again we both dug deep, put our heads down and got up that damn hill.
Then we got to the top and it was just approx 400 m to go and with some more encouragement from Steven we started picking it up , fast and faster we went until we saw the finish line and then we went faster still !, we were going at a fair lick as we went over the line together just as the clock clicked over to 3:27, we'd done it !!!!!!
We could barely believe it !, to say we were over the moon would be a massive understatement !.
Once we had stopped the pain kicked in and we shuffled around the finish loop to get our goody bag which contained a cracking t-shirt, medal, strawberry milk and some food ! In a bit of a daze we hobbled our way through the finish area and made our way back to the baggage pickup tent, once we finally got there we spotted Pete and Graeme, Graeme looked a little worse for wear but had finished with a PB of 3:17, top bloke !.
We then spotted Brad who had been off for a shower and found out he had cracked the 3 hour mark with another PB with a time of 2:58 ! Awesome !.
After a quick change we hobbled to another university building to see if we could get a massage but there were quite a few already there so we just ate our goody bag grub then made our way through the crowds to the bus to make our way back to the car and the park and ride.
We made good time and were back in the car and heading up the road looking for a place to stop for some grub. I found a pub and we dived in got a pint, and sat down, rather gingerly. We ordered our grub and what seemed like ages it finally arrived and was duly devoured.
Then it was back to the car for the rest of the journey home, which seemed to take ages even though the roads were pretty clear and Pete was driving at a decent speed.
We finally got back to Seaton Deleval to drop Brad off, at which point we took the opportunity to get out of the car to stretch our weary limbs then it was back in the car for the finally bit back to my gaff in Crammy .
And so our road trip to York draws to a close, we decamped from Pete's car said our farewells and that was that.
So to sum up, what a cracking day, great mates, a cracking course, brilliant weather conditions, fantastic support from the many marshal's and well wishers and a top goody bag to boot. This is only my second marathon but I think it will take some beating ! I may even sign up for next year !
Thanks for reading,