Niki Roe reports
‘Why the Isle of Man?’
‘Why a marathon in August!?’ Well, I could say it was to cause a
distraction to Claire whilst Craig was in India but it’s more selfish
than that I’m afraid. After supporting the Spring marathons I was
scratching to do one. I knew I could improve my time and wanted to run a
sub-4 hour marathon. Also, with being faced with the reality of being
‘out’ for a few months following my operation I needed to find one in
July or August. August it was, Isle of Man sounded the one - ‘up and
down for the first few miles, then a short climb and the rest of the
course flat’ Great. So Craig wrote my training plan, Claire got her bike
out of the shed, I joined the boys on Thursday’s for Jerry’s 10mile
routes in the rain, bought Tesco out of Chocolate ‘For Goodness Shakes’
went to see Nigel and got on the training. My times had been getting
better all year, the training was going really well and I began to think
3.45–3.50 could be possible.
August arrived and the
famous WAC encouragement and support came flooding in, as did the rain
(perfect running weather!) Anthony gave me an abundance of supportive
pep talks and I was ready to go.
Our Adventure on the IOM
After redirecting my
father to Southampton airport, not ‘Hurn’ airport, we, sorry Claire,
settled into holiday mode and would like to recommend the Costa Mint
Iced Coffee – yummy!
Following the indulgence
at Costa we got on the plane, giving the propellers a spin on the way
and then being joined in our seats by the pilot, who I’m sure should
have been doing something else!
When we landed on the
island we were whisked off to collect the hire car (the owner of the B&B
had explained the bus would take three hours from the airport – it was
only 12 miles!). Kindly ignoring my speeding misdemeanour we were given
the keys of a Fiesta Sport!!!
The fact I had forgotten
to write down the address of the B&B was not of importance to me as I
had all of the buttons in the car to work out the function of, on the
way! Luckily Claire had picked up a detailed map of the island (showing
all 3 roads!) and we followed the coast road and arrived in Ramsey at
the B&B – On Thie Jairg.
After a little chat with
the lovely lady at the B&B when she explained that her dog had a little
‘behaviour problem’ but it was ok because they had a baby gate to keep
him behind – ‘the open one?’ Claire asked! This was fine as he was in
the garden and didn’t even know we were there!
On entering our room it
wasn’t long before we both spotted the array of toys on the shelf – one
of which was a clown! It had to go. So in a carefully constructed
operation, which involved me; who could look at the clown but not touch
it, directing Claire; who could touch the clown but not look at it, the
malevolent toy was relocated to the drawers for the remainder of our
stay! (Thank goodness it wasn’t a porcelain doll!)
Finding that the only
Italian restaurant on the island was in Douglas, we headed over the
mountains on the TT course, through the clouds to the ‘capital’. Dinner
was lovely, even the pasta! And we ended up back there the next night –
not that we had much choice!
Marathon Race Report
(the serious bit)
If you like a quiet
course (and I mean, marshals and Joan & Horace who happen to be
doing their gardening on a Sunday morning and a dachshund called
Colin!) with seemingly continuous climbs, then this is the
marathon for you.
didn’t match my interpretation of the description on the website
and probably wasn’t the best one to go for with a time in mind.
at the stadium, here you can see the tent! Sounded impressive
race started on the seafront. We took this picture the next day
but on the Sunday morning it looked exactly the same except for
200 or so runners and an elderly couple with a stopwatch and a
So, the sun was
out, the wind was blowing and after a pre-race talk about the
achievements of Mark Cavendish we were off. 200 metres of flat
promenade then a sharp turn left and climb. After 3.5 miles the
road levelled for another 200 metres then the hill. At about 4.5
miles you were done with the big hill and the rest of the 13.1
mile course, although dropping in elevation was either long up
climbs or declines (which Claire pointed out later as we drove
round the course as I hadn’t noticed any form of down hill at
The first half was a
tough mental battle which I wasn’t expecting and at mile 12 I
began to worry about the climb again which I would hit just after
half way to about 17.5 miles. The half mile drop back into Ramsey
cheered me up and I came through the half way point at 1.50, right
The climb the second
time round was very hard but I battled on until it beat me just
past the 17 mile mark. The water station 300 metres on just before
the top of the hill gave me the incentive to run again and off I
went looking for the mile markers to start with a 2.
This is the painful
bit so I’ll have a break from reliving the last 5 miles and will
write about something else.
As you can see, the
IOM marathon was the epitome of a rural and quiet marathon but all
the organisation must have been going on behind the scenes because
this was a very well organised race.
On getting my
number, I was also given a chip timing tag on my wrist,
when I came over the finishing line they cut it off and pushed it
into a machine to give me an instant print out of my time and
position. It was the time when the chip went into the machine that
gave you your finishing time, not the time on the clock as you
passed the finishing line!
The competitors were
treated to a super buffet after the race. Like at the Ritz,
the sandwiches and cakes were topped up continuously and after
having been devoured by half marathon runners and 56 marathon
finishers ahead of me still looked as if it had just been put out.
were manned by friendly marshals, although one did laugh at me at 21
miles before her amusement turned to concern as I crashed into the
And, back we are to the
race. The last five miles were a struggle. My muscles were fine (thank
you Nigel) but I couldn’t seem to get any oxygen into my body and after
leaving a drinks station I found I was desperate for the next one. Maybe
bottles of water to carry for a little while would have been more useful
instead of cups.
Hitting Ramsey again and
breathing as you would only imagine Honey Monster would, I knew how
close I was to sub-4 and pushed as hard as I could for the last half a
mile, only to cross the line at 4.00.02. Rejecting a marshals attempt of
scooping me into an ambulance I sat on the grass and poured fluids into
me. I was so disappointed my time didn’t start with a three and knowing
I would have to tell everybody. Please excuse any grammatical errors in
the last two paragraphs but I don’t want to read them again.
You may think that passing
the clock seconds after 4 hours was the low point of the day, but that
came about an hour later when Claire hit me with the car, driving off
just in case anyone close by had noticed!
What Claire did when I was
Claire visited the
supermarket - ShopRite! An independent store selling a range of goods
from Waitrose, Iceland and other high street shops (non of which can be
found on IOM) Claire’s frustration of not being able to find anything of
post-run use turned to fear for her optical health as she struggled to
pick her way through the dated stock as the light dimmed. I can only
imagine the dynamo was faulty or the electricity supply takes a while to
get going on a Sunday morning!
She also kept Anthony up
to date on my half way progress and received texts of support from India
such as ‘Go Honey Monster’ and later, ‘where is she – I’m worried’!
Back to the B&B for
a shower and to look at my feet – which hurt. ‘Oh my God, that’s
disgusting – Andy Horsley would be proud!’ I think was Claire’s
response as I took off my socks! The lovely lady at the B&B
donated a range of plasters and prescription ointments to help my
feet and showed a somewhat disturbing interest in my injuries.
After a shower we
hit the town. Although this only confirmed our fears that the IOM
closed for business around 20 years ago! The big wheel at Laxey
was still going round though.
Driving round the
island seemed quicker with Claire at the wheel and gave me more
opportunities to research button function, only momentarily
obstructing Claire’s driving! We explored the other side of the
island and found ourselves in Port Erin, a beautiful harbour that
Ian had suggested we visited, we missed the train, had champagne
and Guinness in the pub and went back to Douglas to the fab
Italian for more amazing food and ended our evening sat in bed
drinking wine and eating chocolate – great!
On reflection, I need
crowds. I learnt a lot from my second marathon about myself as a runner.
I need to be mentally stronger and celebrate what I have achieved – a 25
minute PB on a tough course. Next marathon will be flat and cold – maybe
Norfolk or Holland.