Sunday 4th May will be a day I will always remember. My first Marathon, how did I get talked into running 26 miles from Avebury to Stonehenge across country? Personally I hold Ian responsible, his sales line was ‘Neolithic Marathon, you up for it, it’s a doddle’. Having missed out on London this was an opportunity to see and feel what running 26 miles would be like.
My preparation as usual was somewhat spasmodic, ‘Mad March Hare’, couple of 20 miles runs and recceing three Wessex Ridgeway legs with Andy and Ian.
As race day approach I was feeling somewhat apprehensive, what should I eat the night before, then there’s breakfast, should I carry water and gels, what should I wear, will it be hot, cold, wet? So I decided to take everything and look to see what everyone else was carrying.
It was an early start, Jerry, Ian and Pete were picking me up at 7am and on to collect Andy. We met up with Shirley, Craig and Jon at Stonehenge. We boarded the Avebury coach at 8.30am and joined several hundred other runners preparing for the 10.30 am start. Neolithic was described as a run not a race, so why chip timing? I was looking to see what other runners were wearing, the answer was every combination, short / vests, jogging bottoms, water, no water, one guy had a vest with 2 litres of water plus about 20 gels tucked in his belt. Ian suggested we run together but as Ian has run it before he knew what to expect, I did not want to get part way and have to pull out.
So we were off, through Avebury across the main road and into the Wiltshire countryside, as paths narrowed it was down to a walk, but as the route became a track the runners started to open up. That was the last time I saw any other Wacers until the finish but I was to get updated from other walkers along the route. The first half went through open country up to Rybury Camp with views for miles, onto All Cannings where the locals were selling cakes and teas. At Redhorn Hill I had to walk it was so steep, Jerry said he walked it as well so that made me feel better. The half way point was near, we were skirting round the M.O.D. danger area on Salisbury Plain, mile after mile of gravel tracks.
The steady stream of walkers could be seen for miles ahead. One group of walkers said they had seen four WACers running together, another asked if Debbie was running. The lack of mile markers meant I hadn’t a clue where I was until the drink station at 19 miles when a marshal said, ‘Only 7 to go’, only to be disappointed to hear from another runner his GPS read 18 miles. I was running with a couple of others for the last few miles and we were all tiring fast. I was looking for Stonehenge in the distance but couldn’t see it. Another runner came along and could see we were flagging, we exchanged our experiences of marathon running, it was the first time for two of us, seventh for another, the general view was ‘what a marathon to start with’. We ran the last two and half miles together through a belt of trees and there was Stonehenge at last. The run in was fantastic, Andy and Jon running alongside, Ian, Craig, Shirley and Pete at the finish line. The atmosphere was brilliant, the scenery beautiful, organization first class. If next year Ian says. ‘Neolithic, you up for it’, sure am!
Tim Box (virgin marathon runner)
15 – Jerry Shield – 3:21:11
31 – Pete Lemon – 3:31:14
47 – Craig Dixon – 3:40:30
56 – Andy Horsley – 3:45:09
58 – Jon Braund – 3:45:27
168 – Ian Kennedy – 4:32:06
178 – Shirley Billinton – 4:41:57
212 – Tim Box – 5:02:03