The Madeyarun round the reservoir marathon double … 2 days, 2 marathons on a loop around a reservoir somewhere near Northampton – 6 laps for marathon distance each day. Sounds likes hell? Well, it wasn’t.
After a particularly heavy couple of days drinking on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday I was feeling pretty rough at 8am on Saturday as I started the 45 minute walk to the start from my hotel. Once there though, the usual suspects from Islwyn RC cheered me up and we headed off to a very chilly start a few hundred metres from the finish and loop checkpoint at the Holiday Inn.
This weekend is well attended by the 100 marathon club crew, and there were plenty of the distinctive blue shirts there. Anyone who’s read “Running Crazy” will immediately recognise some of these characters. I think this was my 42nd, (official) marathon/ultra since my first marathon in October 2010 – so I’m a way off yet, I’ll get there although my passion is 100 miles rather than 100 marathons so I’m in no hurry.
So, off we went on the loop – I’d estimated 9 hours for both days and was run/walking on my usual 25:5 ratio. The hangover abated after a few miles and I settled into my groove, it was one of those iPod days where you’re on your own and just need to get lost in music so I ran my own race, plodded and walked keeping things nice and easy.
Now, I like laps – it’s a bit like running the same race multiple times in one go – you get to learn the route, find the fast and slow bits and check out the bushes for those emergency pit stops.The 24-hour races I’ve done are some of my favourite events, Thunder Run and Run24 both being laps – psychologically there’s just something about them that works for me!
The laps were coming in at 40 minutes dead-on which gave me a 4-hour finish… It seemed far too fast, but it was really comfortable so I stuck with it. The weather went from sunny, to cold, to windy with intervals of snow and hail. Impossible to have the correct clothing, so it was on and off with hats, arm warmers, gloves etc. It was nice to be running without a backpack for once- and to be able to sport the San Dom club vest over a thermal layer.
The normal speed demons ran past me in the first half, only to be mercilessly reeled-in during the second half – honestly, some people never learn… Maybe they like that start fast, finish battered feeling – I don’t get it, even/negative splits is my M.O. up to 50-miles
Round the top of the reservoir was quite exposed and I had to laugh every time round at a couple of things. Firstly, there was a sign which said ‘dogs chasing sheep will be shot’, but it had been vandalised to say ‘sheep will be hot’. This gave me a secondary giggle as an honorary Welshman! Only a couple of weeks earlier in Exmoor, I’d been with another South Wales chap worrying sheep as we paused to relieve ourselves on the moors – Baaaa! He said that one remembered him from last year!
I was pretty sure I’d be outside 4 hours for Day 1, but we must have been late starting so as I came into the finish people were saying you can still make sub-4 I came in at 3:59:48 which must have been about the most consistent pacing ever! A quick shower later, then clapping the Islwyn crew in and I headed back into town. A jacket potato, and it was another big night out with some mates who’d come down to see me – oh dear, tomorrow could be messy?
Day 2 dawned an hour earlier than normal due to the start of British Summer Time – ha, ha, ha… Cold and frosty more like, which helped clear my hangover on the 2 mile walk down to the race start. Back at registration a few of the double-clubber runners assembled along with some fresh legs who were only doing the second day.
Once again we headed off to the flour-marked start line at 09:30, my plan was exactly the same… Run easy and on my 25:5 run/walk schedule, I was surprised to be chasing the leading group on the first lap and my legs were feeling pretty good. Lap 1 came in just under 40 minutes – same as yesterday! Could it be another sub-4? As I started my walk breaks I let the leaders run away from me and continued onto loop 2.
owards the end of loop 2 it was clear there would need to be a pit stop at the Holiday Inn this time around, so I legged it past the water station and to the toilets! Ahhhh, the relief… I have no intention in ‘doing a Paula’ so the 5 minutes downtime was well worth it, it also took the pressure of a sub-4 off, once that was in my mind – everything else became easier.
The laps continued, and it got colder again. I went past halfway at lap 3 in 2:01 the back was broken and it was just a case of digging-in and grinding out the final couple of hours. The Islwyn gang and I had agreed it was an iPod day so Kylie, Lady Gaga and other unsuitable music selections for a 42-year old bearded man were keeping me company on the revolutions around the reservoir.
Once onto the last lap I caught up with a couple of chaps who had done the Groundhog track marathon a few weeks earlier. There were quite a few familiar faces around, and a few ultra runners. My Centurion NDW “100 Miles, One Day” belt buckle was noticed and commented-on at registrations which was great! A few war stories from recent UK ultras were swapped, always good to hear others have similar highs and lows in these events!
Day 2 finished in 4:04 and change. Not too shabby, and if I hadn’t needed to stop to ‘drop the kids off at the pool’ I’d probably have done another sub-4, but the extra effort just wasn’t worth it – especially as the next 2 weekends feature the Compton 40 and brutal CTS Exmoor Ultra – then it’s a weekend off and back to the Fellsman!
Good fun couple of days, lots of great company with nobody taking it too seriously and lots of great banter. A great back-to-back training session to boot, with THREE medals and an Easter Egg into the deal – what’s not to like? Easter Eggs are low-carb, paleo right? Meh – too late!