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Isle Of Man Marathon – 2009

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.

Unfortunately, it 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.

Registration was at the stadium, here you can see the tent! Sounded impressive anyway!


The 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 loud hailer.

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 all!).

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 on time.

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.

Drinks stations 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 drinks table.

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 running

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.




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