Race Report by Jeremy Smith
Very windy. The “Let’s Go Round Again Disco Marathon”, Nottingham, February 17 2019
Holme Pierrepont, near Nottingham, is a watersports centre and among other wet attractions it has a long, oblong lake for rowing. I’ve been told it can’t be used for certain high prestige rowing events because of its daily wind problem, and having run round it a lot of times now I can see what that problem is. In December 2018 Massey rising star Ian O’Donnell and I did a marathon there. It was my first marathon and I was pleased to get round – he got an impressive 3.39.25 time and PB. It left me with the desire to do one in less than 4 hours, and I enrolled in the “Let’s Go Round Again Disco Marathon” that took place on 17 February. There was a half marathon starting simultaneously, and on the other side of the enormous lake, and earlier in the day there was a 5km race and a 1 mile fun run. The organisers, Time2Run, seem to be from Bolton and have charming accents, and seemed to have done a good job.
Only 50 starters, compared with over twice that many in December. Everybody was friendly and encouraging, as usual. The race isn’t everybody’s cup of tea – a marathon with barely any spectators where you go round and round a pancake-flat route (almost) 9 times. Round… and round… and round… With rubber bands to put on your wrist to keep in touch with how many you’ve done. But the location is kind of lovely and there was sunshine, at least for the first couple of hours today. The predictable nature of a route like that lends itself to technical runners chasing PBs and people with personal targets like doing 100 marathons.
I think it cost £38 and I paid an extra couple of quid to have my medal engraved. With the word “LOSER”, which appeals to my sense of humour… When I finished, which I did manage to do a few minutes short of 4 hours (yay!) they didn’t have my medal ready and thought I was winding them up when I told them what I wanted on it. Should be in the post… The post-race cakes were very good. The signage to the toilets was a bit confusing, or would be if I was a woman, because where the sign to the (unisex, as far as I could tell) toilet was there was marker pen on it saying “female” with an arrow diverting women in a different direction. Could have been clearer.
A word about that wind. Because of the geography of the area there only seems to be wind on one side of the lake, the North one, always from the South-West. It gets stronger and stronger all morning and Ian and I remember clearly how it increasingly slowed us down each time we ran on that side – because the laps are anticlockwise you don’t get the boost of the wind behind you on the other side. (Clockwise laps could be a different animal altogether…) Ian noted that the wind stopped shortly after the event, early afternoon. Anyway, the wind was noticeably stronger this time, so much so that there were brief times when I did get a bit of a following wind on the South side.
But the North side! Good grief, the laps became soul-sapping as I increasingly paid the cost of fighting against the constant opposition. And I even ended up walking stretches at a time, head down to cut down the resistance, and when I did that I didn’t seem to be going significantly slower than the other runners. It became an ordeal, but the last 6 miles or so of a marathon probably always are. Finishing felt great and the goodie bag was extremely calorific. I have friends in Nottingham and I may well “go round again” one more time…
Please consider signing the petition asking England Athletics to abandon the archaic practice of segregating men and women in XC events, the latter getting shorter routes. Or just write to them and ask them WHY? I think we could have two distances and anybody should be able to choose. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/equalise-cross-country-races-for-men-and-women-in-england