Lion’s Bridge Marathon – 9.7.17

My kit list worked!  I forgot nothing!

Although I will admit to thinking I had left my race nutrition bag at home with my gels, hydration pack and zero tablets at home.  So after Glossop parkrun I googled stockist for Torq gels and found a Sports Direct for a replacement pack – only to discover I had put the full pack into my postrace kit bag after I had replaced what I needed!

Mary had kept this weekend free so she could meet family.  I realised this meant I could go to a far off East Midlands parkrun (Glossop – Virtually Manchester!) and as luck would have it I found a marathon the next day for only £25 – I took this as a sign to sneak in another marathon.

Arriving in Gin Pitts Village just after 9 the carpark for the pavilion was already full of eager runners looking to log another marathon to their tally – a few at the event had over 400!  Registering was an on the day affair and with small numbers very quick, so after stashing my nutrition bag at the start / finish / lap point I had lots of time to chat to others.

After the customary prerace safety talk and photo the event started promptly in very warm but overcast conditions – maybe even a hint of showers later on looking at the clouds.  I was optimistic that this could be a great day for running.  However I had taken the precaution of basting myself liberally in Factor 30 P20 (10 hour protection) just incase.  See I am learning!

Once you have done a few of these smaller events you always end up meeting up with people you know.  Today was no exception I met Ruth (500+ marathons!) and Joanne (BRR), who I knew for many years from the Weightwatcher Forums (one of my runner heroes), had signed up for the half to kick start her training for her next marathon properly.  As her expected half time matched the pace I wanted to do together we huffed and puffed our way around the course together – as she decided that she was going to do the full for the first two laps.  Switching between distances was allowed even mid race!

The course was another multi-lap affair – 4.4ish miles – so 3 laps for the half 6 for a full.  No marshals just 30 yellow and black arrows to follow as the course weaved around.  It was definitely as described – multi-terrain – it had a little bit of everything, roads, cobbles, tracks, wooden bridge, paths through woods, sandy paths alongside meadows and streams and even a stretch in a park passed a children’s playground and some toilets well placed at 2miles.  There was only one point that I nearly went the right way as the path through the grassy meadow forked – looking at the sign on laps 2-6 I realised it was poor reading on my part rather than the organisers fault.  However as it was on lap one Ruth the runner ahead was still visible and provided the on course correction.

The mixture of route really helped as the run went on as those earlier teasing rain clouds moved away – definitely not blown as the wind seemed no existent – I think they were burnt away as the sun made its presence felt.  Each lap the temperature and the sun ratchetted up a notch.  After the hill just before the end of the lap Joanne decided that she would stick with her original idea of the half.  Apparently 9 runners down for the full switched to the half.

After company for three laps I now had to slog my way round 3 more laps on my own – only seeing other runners as they lapped me. (some more than once!)  By now the route was ingrained in my head – even if all the signs had gone I could have run it without error.  Much to my delight just before the park an ice cream van had arrived, checking as I ran passed Mr Curly Top was staying until 5pm!  I now had a bribe for getting onto lap 5 – although the Torq gel – Rhubarb and Custard and Apple Crumble were delicious they were quite as appealing as an ice lolly.

Trail events don’t do aid stations like big city marathons – no gels here (if you want gels bring your own) However what you do get is snack central.  Giant foam bananas, fudge cubes, sour chews, candy mice and candy ice cream cones, biscuits (Gluten Free!) flapjack and millionaires shortbread.  It was delicious.  However by lap 4 the sun had taken its toll…  The millionaires short bread had become a chocolate and caramel puddle with lumps of shortbread.  And the candy mice and ice creams had turned into a sweet fondue.  As no spoon was available I had a great idea… Use a biscuit to scoop a large stick mass of liquefied candy mice up and eat.  Upon doing this I realised I was at risk of getting messy so I took the sensible step of shoving it all in in one go.  Shuffling off on my next lap I attempted to chew and swallow the newest sweet sensation.

I managed it, but the next lap was mainly walking as I attempted to digest this part chewed mass rather than see it make a reappearance.

So it was as the sun burnt down I ran on.  Malc (the organiser) had added an emergency water station (two packets of 80 500ml bottles) left at the side of the route for runners to grab if needed.  Theoretically on a 4.4mile route carry a hydration pack I shouldn’t have needed any but it was really warm so I refilled my now empty bottles and ran on.

Now any runner if sensible carries a fiver as they run – mine is with my parkrun card (never leave home without it #dfyb) in a zip lock plastic bag normally with my phone.  My last emergency fiver did nearly 300miles – today however I was more flush having got £10.  Seeing the ice cream van I stopped and queued.

Now surely it isn’t difficult to pick what you want to have from an ice cream van?  Do you want an ice cream? No then choose from one of the 10 lollies / Yes do you want a flake – Yes 99 no plain ice cream!  Clearly some people have no decision making skills as the queue of two families ahead took 6 minutes to pick – I am sure they could have let me sneak in ahead to get my Cherry Brandy Lolly (£1) – apparently the 2nd most popular choice, apple cider lollies taking the top spot (but they are 30p more!)  8 minutes after stopping – it took Mr Curly Top a while to sort out my change!) I was off again at a walk so I could enjoy my treat.

At the aid station I was informed that 8 people were still out on course – so I set out on my final lap – still with the goal of sneaking under the 6hr limit.  I ran the lap just like the first – actually a little quicker, however I had to get a selfie at the Lions Bridge Statute and passing the ice cream van with money tinkling in my pack and only 1 family in the queue I decided to see what made the cider lolly worth 30p more.  As Mr Curly Top sorted the change I took my ice lolly selfie.

I can see why people pick the cider lolly – It was superb, but I feel I rushed it a little too much as I had to get on with the race I had a deadline.  As I ran the final hill my watch started to beep like crazy – thinking maybe my heart rate had surged and I was dying I looked at my watch – It was telling me I had run a marathon 5:59:57  however I wasn’t finished yet…  You certainly get a bargain at this race with the cheap price and extra distance.

Coming into the finish for the last time I was presented with my medal and a lion bar!

Although the weather was hot and sunny (to be expected really for July) this was a superb race and one that I shall certainly think about doing again.