Ahhhh, Dorset. This time for the Larmer Tree Marathon, part of the weekend of races (a 10 miler, half marathon, 20 miler & marathon) based at Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset. This being another White Star Running event we were eagerly anticipating mud, hills, gorgeous scenery, sweepers on brooms, badgers (I really must get around to feeling the badger), slippery car parks, people dressed as peacocks and great big burrrrling. Oh, of course an incredibly friendly and enthusiastic, encouraging bunch of runners, marshals and race crew as well as a veritable feast on the aid stations.
4.30 AM. That’s 4.30 AM. Half past four. In. The. Morning. That’s when the alarm went off. Luckily we’d elected to forgo our normal Saturday night down the discotheque, Nicky in her stilettos and me in my white suit, and were tucked up good and early with our Horlicks.
Porridge and pre-race emptying performed, we boarded the mini with our good friend Martin in the back. Were you at the Larmer races on Sunday? Yes? Then you’ll know Martin, because he will have spoken to you. He does like a chat does our Martin….
On arrival at the race, cars were being parked where they stopped slip-sliding across the field, ably directed by race director, Andy Palmer and his merry band. It didn’t half rain early on Sunday.
We bumped into Andy from Storm in Plymouth which was lovely, they’re always such good company at events, and later Caroline and some more of their friends and family. We also met Julia, their daughter, who by coincidence is putting together the WSR digital magazine and I had been conversing with her about possibly contributing, so it was lovely to meet he too.
Martin was having a bit of a wardrobe crisis, deciding in the end (wisely as it turned out) to remove his long leggings and don his trusty shorts. Unfortunately his draw string was a bit tangled and Nicky had to delve in to get him all straightened up.
Obviously this wasn’t the time to start taking piccies…..
In to the house itself for a coffee (tea for Martin, umpteen sugars) and a visit to the arc of portaloos and before long it was race time….. Despite the early start to the day it was actually lovely to be off at 8.30 amid the hubbub of excited runners ready to explore another part of Dorset.
We started, as is our wont, pretty much at the back (yes Martin “right at the back”!), lovely to be around all the guys and girls running with dogs, most of whom soon passed us!
Our tactic was to run steady and walk the steep bits and really muddy bits, with no time target in mind as we had a hard half the previous week and all our Sunday long runs are building towards us both having a crack at a time in the North Dorset Villages Marathon (although we’re not telling anyone that). I’d had a good old go at the Torbay Velopark Parkrun on Saturday, running a pb, yippeeeee, and was hoping my tired little legs would get into their stride early on.
As I’ve said in previous blogs, I’m afraid I don’t have the detailed photographic memory of some of the tremendous marathon bloggers out there but I remember the race a bit like this……..
Trails, mud, country lanes, pretty villages, friendly aid station, woodland, feckin’ great hill, urgent need for the toilet, sprint into the woods…… sprint back out again, more mud, some more woodland, lovely trails, friendly runners overtaking us, friendly runners being overtaken by us, friendly aid station, fields, mud, hills, not falling over (just).
Oh yes, we also bumped into a regular at these events, Malcom, from the 100 Marathon Club who we chatted to and asked advice about where to keep all these lovely medals we are acquiring, although his 200+ marathons makes this more of an issue for him than us. We probably won’t go for Malcom’s pile-them-on-the-sofa technique though, he says the job has become too big to know where to start!!
This was followed by, if I remember rightly, mud, great views, another feckin’ great hill, loads of incredibly helpful and friendly marshals, lovely aid stations, the Lovestation (WSR’s trademark 20 mile aid station laden with feasts and tipples) where we took the feast but declined the tipple and headed off for the last 6 or so miles.
Our tactics paid dividends as we kept the running going, still walking the challenging bits and before long we were at the infamous 400m to go sign, fully anticipating this would actually mean a further mile or so! But no, we could see the finish and we galloped (ish) across the field towards it, holding hands to cross the line for our first marathon finish of the year. That’s 30 for me and 28 for Nicky and the lovely bling was well earned and, as ever, quite beautiful.
I absolutely love running with Nicky and these uber-friendly off road events are just what we need on a Sunday morning. We ran 5 hours 51 minutes, marginally slower than last year when it was certainly a lot drier.
So another one ticked off on our quest to reach 100 before Nicky’s, er, next ‘landmark’ birthday. Next up for us is another half, the Tavy 13 on Sunday, which is a beautiful course. Next marathon for us is the Devonshire Dumpling which sounds like a gorgeous route and a quirky event.
If you’d like to read about marathons we haven’t completed this yea because they were cancelled (Dover), or we only got half way (Portland), or about occasional snobbery in running, or the Arc of Attrition or my run streak, then click away……
My run streak ended with the marathon on Sunday (36 days) and started again today with a lovely early morning 7 miler.