Loch Ness Marathon – 5 October – A ‘Monster’?
Whilst most of the
countries eyes were focused on the Great North Run I headed further
north to Inverness for the Loch Ness Marathon. For those unfortunate
enough to have had to listen to my views on the marathon you will know
it’s not one of my favourite race distances (there that gets the first
excuse out the way) however I had set myself the challenge of completing
one in my 50th year; actually I had two challenges the other
being to survive the 18 week training programme without injury.
With the injury free
challenge successfully completed, Jill and I set of on the Friday for
Southampton airport looking forward to a relaxing flight to Inverness.
Disappointment No 1 – Flybe cancelled the flight 15 minutes before
departure time due to technical problems. After a rescheduled flight to
Edinburgh we then were on a 3½ hour coach ride to Inverness. Up to this
point following my training regime my alcohol intake for the week had
been nil; as the coach entered a pub car park on route for a ‘comfort’
break this was about to change. The pint of ‘Nessie’ real ale was that
good I just had to buy some* bottles for the rest of the journey. So
when I arrived in Inverness at nearly 11pm (instead of the planned 4pm)
my legs were rather wobbly and it had nothing to do with running.
Sunday morning saw an early
start to the day as runners had to be at the stadium (where we would
finish) by 7.45am to get on a bus that would take us to the start. The
bus journey was about an hour’s ride but with some excellent scenery and
conversations based on lack of training, the expectation of hills on the
course, should a long sleeve top be worn or not and other such marathon
runners’ tales it soon passed. I struck up a conversation with a girl
who it turned out came from Portland (not Dorset but Oregon); the
coincidence was that I happened to have the Portland 10 T-Shirt from a
couple of years ago in my bag which I had intended to use to keep me
warm at the start area and then throw away. There will now be people in
the USA looking at her new T-Shirt wondering what the phallic looking
design is supposed to represent (those who have seen the T Shirt will
know what I mean).
Unlike the crowds at London
it was easy to get to a decent position near the start line, before the
gun went we had a marching pipe band playing through the crowd from the
back to the start line just what was needed to get adrenalin flowing.
In all of my races in the
last few years I have always maintained negative splits, this works well
for me and it was my game plan for this race. I knew that on an
extremely undulating course it was going to be difficult to maintain
consistent mile times, and so when I went through the first half in 1:25
I told myself this was due to all the down hills. The 16 mile point saw
the first of the longer up hill drags and when it took me 7:35 to
complete the mile I was not that concerned; then at the 18 mile point
(here comes excuse No 2) I started feeling pains in my upper back leg
(the big round bit above top of leg) and half a mile later I found
myself having to walk. The last 7 miles were a combination of shuffle
and walk with a bit of running thrown in, my aim now had become finish
this race without giving myself any long term injury. I finally crossed
the line in 3:17:04, disappointed with the time but pleased I had
managed to complete it.
The race goody bag was
excellent, I am sure I was not the only one that struggled to carry it.
In addition to the T Shirt it included three cans of soup, a large jar
of pickled onions, a large jar of pickled beetroot, a stack of special
offer leaflets and other bits and pieces I cannot even remember; it was
sponsored by Baxter’s!
I almost forgot my other
aim – be in a fit state for a few beers on the Sunday evening. No
problem on that front, only disappointment was I did not manage to find
any Nessie real ale so I had to settle for some Caledonian dark ale
which went down just as well.
Would I recommend this
marathon? Difficult question for someone who would not recommend London
or the marathon itself - If you are looking for a well organised scenic
challenging marathon without the crowds of London, then it’s for you; if
you want a PB and don’t get on with hills (especially down hill) then
There is a saying ‘what
does not kill you only makes you stronger’; I certainly have benefited
from this experience it has strengthened my belief that the marathon is
not for me. Having now maintained 18 weeks of training without injury I
look forward to getting that red shirt back on and getting some ‘proper’
racing done over cross-country and distances that suit me – watch this
* For ‘some’
read four large bottles!