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Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon  – 11 December 2010

Jon Braund reports.

Back in September my running motivation was flagging a bit so I did the Clarendon Half - running for the soul.  For some reason I then started looking for a marathon to keep things going and up came the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon: December, local, very multi-terrain (but see below) and the first time it had been run. My curiosity was piqued.

The weather on the day was mild and overcast - very lucky as a week either side and it would probably have had to be called off. I had a base layer and T-shirt and felt too warm in the first half, although it did get a bit cooler as we ran into a gentle breeze on the way back.  On a wet and windy day this would be very exposed and a totally different prospect.

The start was low-key, so much so that I was still doing up my shoe laces and hadn't cleared my previous run out of my watch when everyone else began running.  I set off gently, chatting to a couple of 100-marathoners (one did 29 last year - mind boggling) but eventually left them and caught Annie.

The course was a flat, there-and-back mixture of maybe equal amounts of pavement/tarmac paths (including one stretch just over a fence from the M27 that I didn't much like) and grass/earth tracks with a few stretches of shingle thrown in.  Whoever described it as ‘very multi-terrain’ needs to try the Grizzly - although there were a few things in the shingle, including what sounded like broken glass, that I hadn't run on before! I hadn't thought I'd like the ‘there-and back’ nature but it did provide interest seeing the leaders and then the later runners go by and meant I could recognise what was coming up (the people who got lost at 23 miles can't have been paying attention on the way out).

It all seemed really relaxed and at 5 miles I was averaging about 8.5 minute miles. However, soon after that I settled to 8 minute miles which I kept going for the rest of the race. The last 6 or so miles were a challenge (not at all relaxed any more!) and I didn't even notice the traffic that had annoyed me on the way out, I was concentrating on keeping myself going. Did you know that 12 verses of ‘Bread of Heaven’ will get you through 1 mile?  I'm not religious but it has a great rhythm to plod away to. The last stretch along the Portsmouth front seemed to go on forever but eventually I got to the end.  I suppose I'm lucky that my legs waited until I'd stopped before kicking in with some serious pain. The voucher for soup, bacon bap, mince pie and tea from the nearby van was a really nice touch.

Would I do it again?  Possibly. There are a few negatives above and if there was a Clarendon/Grizzly around the same time there would be no contest.  But it is close, well organised, friendly, with good facilities and easy parking and at a time when there aren't that many alternatives. I wanted a target to train for into December so I could take a reasonable level of fitness into a Christmas break and hopefully start the year with some distance in my legs.  It fitted that pretty well.

WACers times and results were:

Jon Braund – 3:32:24
Annie Dougall – 4:07:59


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