Skechers Milton Keynes Marathon
Monday 5th May 2014
I've always wanted to run 26.2 miles around roundabouts and on dual carriageway. Fortunately my dreams came true as I tackled the Milton Keynes marathon for my debut on Bank Holiday Monday.
Buoyed by the prospect of finishing in a stadium, the half and full marathon runners started together on the road outside, knowing that we had rather warm conditions on the route. The decision to start without corrals and the half & full runners together meant that I nearly wiped out a group of charity runners at the start - sorry about that!
The first half of the marathon was well-supported and predominantly on road. There were quite a few out and backs in the business park, but a number of bands and the very vocal LUBE stand kept the runners entertained. I was feeling good if a little psyched out by the 3:45 pacer setting off like a hare, and went through half way in 1:48:50, having passed him at 11 miles.
Much like football, this definitely is a tale of two halves. Once the half marathon runners peeled off, the route moved mainly onto pavements and through housing estates. The course was nice and leafy but featured an extraordinary number of underpasses, of which the short, sharp up and down slopes started to slowly sap my legs. After mile 16 I started to fade, and despite the friendly hosepipes brandished by locals, I backed off the pace to prevent a full detonation in the increasing heat. It is a mental game, and all that.
The route continued along by a particularly fetching part of dual carriageway as we approached the closing miles. I started to feel a bit better just as mile 24, or the MK equivalent of Boston's Heartbreak Hill ('Hospital Hill'), hit me. Despite my obvious slowing, I was still picking off a number of runners and as I entered the stadium, picked it up enough to finish in 3:45:07. Clearly the 3:45 pacer had made an error somewhere as he just beat me with a sprint and professional dip on the line. Bravo.
Overall it's a nice race, and close to home. It's not flat, and the time of year means that there's always the risk of some uncomfortable heat, but I would recommend it - probably not as a PB course though! Nice medal of a shoe, too.
Respect to Chris Darling of Cambridge Tri Club who managed an impressive 10th place on debut!