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Crewe Déjà vu - Lap of Honour Track Marathon
Sunday 3rd November 2013
Christof Schwiening

So, having already run two marathons in the last 5 weeks I turned-up at Cumberland Athletics track in Crewe with little expectation that my attempt to try and break 3 hours for the 105.5 laps was going to work. In Berlin I managed 3:05 pacing my nephew and whilst I clearly could have gone faster, I don't think I was in sub-3 shape then, and the almost complete lack of training between then and now (except a 3:30 marathon) was not going to have helped improve my fitness. Nevertheless, my race coordinator (Max) took his place, with two stopwatches and my meticulously crafted pacing sheet, at the finish line to keep me 'on plan'. The weather was bright and blustery (15 mph headwind coming round from the 200m start to the finish) but cool (9 degrees). 50 of us made the start line including on Riverside Runner who felt similarly guilty for missing the Frostbite.....The Sandbach chairman - dressed as Queen Victoria was running his 100th marathon - a spectacular outfit mistake given the windy conditions. I tucked my C&C vest in, fashion be damned, I didn't want any more wind resistance than possible. The gun went off and four of us sped forward - far too quickly. Mike had his pacing just right and rapidly opened-up a big lead. He was the only one to pass me after the start. I completed the first 200m way too fast and Max immediately sprung into life telling me to slow down. The race then pretty much unfolded as all marathons do with the exception that every 102s the commentator was shouting; 'Christof, Christof.....'. Then spectators around the track began to join in so that every lap someone was issuing encouragement - and Max kept me informed of how far ahead of my plan I was - if stabilized at 15s ahead (in total) of a slight negative split plan. By 2.5 hours in I knew that I was going to fail. Stomach cramps, stitch and growing legs pains were all containable - but, no matter what I tried I just couldn't maintain the pace. I was running naked - no watch etc - and obviously still passing people every few seconds, but there was no way of judging just how much I was slowing except for the continuous flow of; 'Up 15, Up 10, Up 3, Down 5, Down 15, Down 29 etc' from Max. The last I recall was Down 2mins then I was concentrating on keeping running. My calves were toast, my thighs also were extremely painful and I was trying to find some way of keeping going. One last push and I got across the line. The photo will be terrible. But, my first ever (ever) podium finish - 2nd place. OK, 20 mins behind the winner but still a PB for me. The organizers were fantastic - not just at the finish but throughout the race. It really was a model of how events should be run - smooth, ultra friendly and absolutely every one was polite and enthusiastic. I have a very soft spot for the Sandbach Striders and it would be very sad if this really is the last running of the event.
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