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Race Reports [Reports Index]

Autumn Shakespeare Marathon
Saturday 15th November 2014
Christof Schwiening

After the shambles at Amsterdam - and Andy Irvine's observation that it was taking me an awfully long time to go sub-3 - I had little option but to try again. This time the weather was perfect; cool, dry and calm with a faint layering of mist. I managed to avoid much of a taper having signed-up only a week before the event. We arrived at the raceway to find little that Shakespeare would have approved of. Long Marston airfield has seen better days. I imagine that it has hit its lowest point. Think Romanian scrap yard and you get roughly the right impression. The tarmac revealing its stratified layers throughout the course. The field was large - nearly 1,500 - but most were doing either the 5km, 10km or half. Only a few souls had turned-out to enjoy the 8 and a bit laps with 32 dead turns in total. Added to that were about 4 right angled corners per lap. Everyone started together so that there was never a shortage of runner to catch. In terms of overtaking it rivals any of the major marathons. The problem with the mass start was that the toilets were far too busy at the start - a subject that is closer to my heart than anatomy would suggest. I started off with the intention of running a flat paced 3 hour marathon but ended-up ramping the pace up throughout the race. I went through halfway (21.4 km by my GPS) in 1:29:00 with a comfortable 1 min buffer on 3 hours. The second half was slightly faster at 1:28. I don't think anyone overtook me. I had plenty of opportunity to practice different techniques for the dead turns, but failed to reach any conclusion as to what was best. With the mass of runners I had no idea of my position - but, that wasn't really why I was there. Repeating the 5km laps I began to notice where the gradients were - gradients very similar to those I come across running in Cambridge! I had the occassional worry - a dip in my speed (and heart rate) when as I got the stitch, a minor slowing when again I lost all sensation in my lower legs, and a lot of silly feet dragging to try and dislodge the stones from between the grips in my soles. I avoided taking any gels or energy drinks - or indeed water - on the run. I just threw a few cups of water over my head - that was all that was necessary. Eventually the final small lap arrived and I finished spot on 2:57 (chip time), collected my medal, dipped under the railings to avoid the guy repeatidly throwing-up right in the exit funnel and headed off the airfield as quickly as a Sopwith Camel.
Would I recommend the race? Well, it is on a Saturday and it is flat and cheap. The organizers were friendly and the organization absolutely fine. It did what I wanted and is one of the few fast marathons at this time of the year. But, for the 26 you could probably pick-up a stand-by ticket for a play instead - Shakespeare would have approved of that.

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