wins Ö as Pete hits his century! Ė 15 March 2015
Andy Horsley reports from the Larmer Tree Marathon
Andy on his way to victory
had a difficult week I was not particularly motivated for this run. The
only reason I had entered was to cheer Pete Lemon in on his 100th
marathon. The conditions were said to be extremely muddy and the course
was hilly and the forecast was cold so I wasnít sure if I could be
bothered. In the end I could be.
race starts and finishes in the Larmer Tree Gardens on the
Wiltshire/Dorset border and is mainly off road, hilly with some superb
views. There was also a 20 mile run taking place at the same time and a
half marathon later on. The runners gathered in the start area in the
cold and were entertained by a refreshingly honest race briefing from
Andy Palmer the race director. The owner of the Larmer Tree estate set
us off and everyone charged off down the road towards the woods.
myself towards the front. I saw Anthony [Clark] and another BAC runner
head off in the lead, they were running in the 20 mile race. I settled
at the back of half a dozen runner or so just behind them. They were a
mixture of marathon and 20 mile runners.
the first few miles are fairly easy running and I found myself going
slightly faster than I would normally for a marathon but felt ok and
conditions were good, the mud wasnít too bad early on. The group in
front gradually went further ahead until they were out of sight and I
was running on my own. After 5 or 6 miles there is a long uphill and I
saw another runner ahead. Eventually I caught up with him at the top and
after a few pleasantries I went ahead. I did notice he was a marathon
runner. I was expecting some of the runners behind to catch me.
next few miles involved some testing hills and some cheeky descents
until the course splits at about 10 miles where the marathon runners
turn right and do an extra loop of six miles or so before re-joining the
others. This loop was not too muddy but involved several steep hills and
was hard going. I was conscious that I could see no one ahead or behind
the whole time and if I kept up a good pace I may get a fairly good
placing. Therefore I tried to go as fast as possible up the hills, I
donít think I have ever run a race so aggressively before. Every climb
my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest and the sweat
was pouring off me despite the cold. I kept reminding myself that
everyone else was having to do the same. The downhills were tricky but
welcome. I did pause at every significant turn to ensure I didnít get
lost as the race director had been clear at the start Ė if in doubt
follow the arrows Ė Iím pleased to say this worked perfectly. I saw no
one else in this section except for marshals and the odd spectator.
came down another long hill I saw other runners ahead as I re-joined the
20 milers but much further down the field. I was glad to get that
section out of the way and it was nice to feel part of the race again
and exchange Ďwell donesí with other runners. It did present me with a
new challenge, overtaking on narrow trails. However most of the runners
stepped aside when they saw me coming, apart from a couple of cheeky
ones who decided to try and race me. I had started to get some cramps in
my stomach so had to ease up slightly, I didnít want to blow up having
worked so hard, my one gel race strategy was looking suspect and I
needed some water and energy.
was a water station at 17ish miles and I ran in and grabbed some water.
Whilst I was there a spectator told me that I was the first marathon
runner in. I told him he was mistaken as I knew there were at least two
ahead. Apparently they had opted for the 20 mile course now leaving me
at the front! I looked back down the course and saw no one, oh ****,
this is unknown territory for me. I wasnít convinced he was right but he
off again along the road with all sorts of nagging thoughts. Iíd run
really hard up to now and couldnít afford to relax or I may be caught up
and it would be a shame after so long. I kept looking behind me and only
saw 20 mile runners. I decided to go as hard as I could and see what
happened, if I could finish high up the results I would be happy.
Unfortunately the terrain didnít allow for fast running and the hills
kept coming and the mud got worse, I consoled myself that everyone
behind was doing the same and would have to do it quicker to catch me. I
continued to pass many 20 mile runners and this kept me going.
20ish miles I got to the Lovestation which is most peopleís favourite
checkpoint. Manned by lots of lovely people giving out food, drinks,
hugs and alcohol, no joke! It was a lively place and I could see many
people hanging around. I ran down the hill at a fair pace and got a
large hug from a man in a skirt with something underneath which
resembled a badger. I wasnít stopping to check so I drank up (water) and
followed another steep hill and this one nearly did for me. I had run
every hill so far but I was fading now so I marched this one for a bit.
Amusingly I was walking faster than anyone around me was running it so I
didnít feel I lost too much time. At the top my legs wobbled but I
kicked them into action and I plodded on. Where was everyone behind me?
Iím sure I was slowing so they must catch me soon.
next few miles involved lots more ups and downs but not as bad. However
the mud was starting to get worse and most people around were now
walking. I couldnít afford to but the mud took my mind off my aching
legs and I just concentrated on putting my feet in the right places and
passing people with as little inconvenience to either of us. A couple of
times I was heckled by runners I knew but most others were giving me
encouragement, I did return the favour when I could but as finding it
hard to breathe. I was really enjoying the feedback and the running at
this point despite the mud and knackered legs. The voices I heard were
telling me I was the first one through so maybe that guy at 17 miles was
about 23 miles there was a drink station. I stopped to drink and down
some jelly babies. I asked how far there was to go as I had heard that
the course may be long. I was reassured that there were just over three
miles to go Ė a mere 5k or so. This was confirmed by a half marathon
runner who just came in. I did wonder why I was stopped chatting when I
may be near the front of the race so I went on.
struggled to get my legs moving when I set out again, luckily there was
a slight downhill but it took a while for them to get rid of the
stiffness. The last few miles were not too bad, fairly muddy but mainly
flattish. I knew it would bring us back on to the road to the finish but
it seemed to take ages and every turn was a false dawn. Finally though
we hit the tarmac and there was a slight downhill before the rise to the
finish. I needed to get my legs moving faster but was unable to, I knew
this was where I would get caught. There was an unknown runner coming up
fast behind me (in my mind) and I needed to keep going.
jogged down the slope and started up the last small hill towards the
finish when my left hamstring cramped up. This was it then, I would limp
to the line whilst being overtaken by those people who had remained out
of sight but were waiting for me to weaken before putting me in my
place. However I didnít stop but tried to march it out whilst rubbing my
leg, it got better and I broke into a jog as I got to the top. Round the
bend and through the finish, there was no one just behind me, just my
and felt that I had run really hard and have never attacked a course as
I did in the first half today but needed to get dry and sat down. I
wandered over the field towards my car. On the way I spoke to a couple
of friends who had done the 20 mile race and then I heard the tannoy
calling me back to report to the race director. I limped back and found
Andy who shook my hand and congratulated me, he informed me I had come
first in the marathon and needed to report back to the prize giving in
an hour, wow!
hundred up for Pete
Congratulations to Pete Lemon who completed his 100th marathon today,
particularly as he has done his in such a short space of time compared
to others, it was great to see him finish. Well done also to Phil and
Charlotte for completing the marathon and to Andy Olden who ran the Ďfun
runí 20 mile race. Also the race and the organisation were impeccable
today, I can thoroughly recommend White Star Runningís events for all
levels, Andy and all his volunteers were the best!