Miniature Hero


Well, today we celebrate 2 years of marriage. I am a lucky, lucky, LUCKY man. I get discouraged from gushing about how in love I am…… but Nicky truly is my miniature hero!! (and, yes, she does approve of the pet name!)

Miniature heroes

A silly pet name, really, what with, you know, us being ON IT and everything…….

SO, I shan’t go on and on and on about just how wonderful my life is with Nicky…. well, only a bit…….

Anyway, we did the Imerys Trail (half) Marathon on Sunday. Unfortunately we didn’t quite make the cut-off at 8.2 miles and were diverted on to half course. Clearly we aren’t fast enough runners for this event:-

2017-05-14 09.53.00
Met a blog reader(!) and fellow Marathon Talk listener Millsy at the start – he came 10TH – good running!

The apparent race time limit of 5h30m (this would be 12m36s per mile) wouldn’t have been a problem, Nicky has recently ran a 4h24m marathon and whilst this is definitely a more challenging route, with her relentless and consistent pacing we would always get there. Lovely, settle in and enjoy the run……

Hang on, the cut off at 20 miles is 4 hours (12 mm). Oh, really, well, we’ll get to that relatively safely and even if we are tiring, that would mean we had 1.5 hours to do the last 10k (and as we now know, the last 3 miles are pretty quick). Smashing, we could average high 11’s and see how we felt at 20…..

Oh, HANG ON, the cut off at 8 miles is 1.5 hours, that’s 11m15s per mile!!! Er, why?? Anyway, I tried not to let this concern me as I set about pacing Nicky as best I could to this first cut off point. I can’t tell you too much about the course, as I was trying to get the right effort out of Nicky without burning up valuable energy for later in the race.

2017-05-14 12.26.31
Mile 26, er……..
2017-05-14 09.58.52
Started at the back. Whoops!

We ALWAYS start at the back. This serves two purposes – firstly, it avoids being dragged along by runners going faster than we should be and secondly it stops the demoralising process of quicker runners coming by as they find their place in the field. This was a mistake today!

It took us exactly a minute to cross the start line.

After a lap of the Cornwall College site we hit a rather bad bottle neck. Stationary. 90 seconds.

Then, an uphill very narrow grass path, at a gentle walk as there were plenty of half marathon runners enjoying the greenery as they were, of course, under no time pressure. How much quicker might we have done this section, maybe 30 seconds, maybe a minute?

2017-05-14 10.43.39
One of us struggled under the tunnel….

The final nail in the coffin of our marathon was when we passed the 8 mile marker with 1h29m50s showing on my watch but with no sign of the split.

A few hundred yards later we were 2 minutes too late for the poor chap charged with the task of informing us! You were bravely firm and apologetic sir and I hope we weren’t rude!

We completed the ‘half’ in 2h28m feeling bright and fresh, a bit cross(!) but could merrily have gone around again.

2017-05-14 12.29.47
These lovely (ultra veterans) were also not up to standard today!!

Such a shame that my beautiful wife, a seasoned veteran of 30 marathons, including a 50 miler, 4 50ks and numerous tough off road events is now saying that she feels that she simply isn’t good, or indeed, fast enough.

I guess we’ll just have to be more careful to ensure races we enter are aimed at runners like us.

A cracking venue and course, numerous and enthusiastic marshals and volunteers and an inclusive half marathon with no time pressure.

2017-05-14 12.51.41
Not quite the ‘full’ monty

Not all doom and gloom though, a pasty and an ice cream as we chilled on the beach at Charlestown was just splendid, followed by a lovely evening and night in our favourite bolt hole in Mevagissey.

2017-05-14 14.13.34
Definitely a 2 ice cream day.

And now we look forward to some lovely weekends of running and Nicky is getting right back into her open water swimming again.

Hopefully I haven’t come across as bitter and twisted. As I said to a nice chap in a Mudcrew vest as we stomped our way through the last few miles, I need to shut the wotsit up and stop moaning. “Oh no, he said, if you’ve developed a life skill you should definitely use it!”!!

2017-05-14 14.55.46
This is what we did instead of the ‘other’ 13.1 miles

15 thoughts on “Miniature Hero

  1. I hope your wife doesn’t feel like that very long! It’s a very tough route and as your description gives I’m sure your would make it another time, please come back and give it another go!
    Having seen this race from both sides having run it and helped out I can understand the cut offs as the race does get tougher as you go on, having run in one of the earlier years when there were no cut offs and being the last runner in by the end I kept everyone out much longer than now, the last 3 miles you enjoyed are not so nice at the end of 26 and the course is one that does take a lot of marshals. We’ve also ‘touch wood’ always had very warm weather for this one! I’m sad to hear the not good enough comment as we pride our club on being inclusive of all please come back and give us another go! Unfortunatly it’s just a tough course that needs a lot of helpers who we need to help year on year. I hope you enjoy your next race x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nicky is probably in 4.20 shape on a flat course and fitter than ever. She ALWAYS finishes strongly as she paces her races so well. She would have done 5.15 on your course using the same tactics as she always does. We didn’t enjoy the last three miles, I must correct you, or any of the last 5, with Nicky just feeling like crying that an event could be so elitist as you discriminate against people who can run strong negative split 4.24 marathons on an undulating road course. I asked the marshal at mile 8.2 when they started pulling half marathon runners off the course. He said you don’t!? So I could run 3 hours for the first 8 miles of the half!?
      Lesley, your race is staged by a running club, all volunteers, dozens of friendly marshals and helpers, free photography etc etc for no profit and the HALF is welcoming to runners and walkers of all abilities. A quirky course and location and a great set up at the college. BUT it’s not aimed at people like Nicky and myself. If you’re told at mile 8.2 (not mile 8) that you can’t carry on them clearly that means you’re not good enough for this race. Nicky new feels that, despite her other achievements, she is simply not worthy of being called a marathon runner. Her fragile confidence broken. Her faith in her tactic of getting stronger through a race has completely gone. Her belief in my coaching (I am a UKA level 3 endurance coach, and have a degree in exercise science) is gone, our enjoyment of running together shattered. Because, as was made quite plain on the day, none of that is good enough. For you.
      That training weekend where we heard talks by Liz Yelling, Martin Yelling, Steve Way, Louise Damon, about ideally negative sitting marathons, building into the race, holding back in the early stages. Clearly that advice is incorrect at getting a strong 4.24 marathon runner around your course in, I reservedly estimated, 5h15m. Not good enough. For you.
      Good enough to be 2nd vet female In the 20 mile RAT, followed by two years success in the 32 mile event. Good enough for 2nd vet female at the CTS South Devon 28 mile coast path marathon. Good enough to cruise 1.5 hours inside the cut off at the South Downs Way 50. Good enough at 2 Giants Head Marathons, 2 Larmer Trees, a Dorset Invader, Dartmoor Discovery 50k (went through 26.2 in 5.08) and numerous other challenging tough events. Good enough for the Great Wall of China Marathon. Good enough for Beachy Head and dozens more. ALL of them using the start steady, build into the race tactic. But not good enough for you. I wish people would stop saying ‘you are good enough’ after telling us we’re NOT!
      On all of the events above Nicky finished faster than she started because she is a seasoned marathon runner.
      Thank you for pointing at that the last three miles of a marathon are hard but we do have some knowledge of how that works already.
      Your Half Marathon is for anyone. Your marathon isn’t.
      Oh, and someone kindly shared with me a screen shot of your website informing me that I need to be at mile 8 by 1h30. There was no marshal at your mile 8 marker to check this!!!! If you want to be deadly accurate and uncompromising about the 1h30 maybe you should tell people EXACTLY where the cut off is.
      As for the start, maybe people who can ONLY run 5.15 on your course should start at the front and then sprint until the bottle neck to avoid the clogging up. Not sound marathon running advice is it.
      I see the Eden Project Marathon now has a 1h30m cut off at mile 7. That’s an easier course (Nicky did 5.08 there when less fit than now) that’s nearly 13min/mile!!!
      Again, thank you for your interest in my blog and I truly think you have and great event and and thoroughly inclusive half. But the marathon isn’t aimed at people like us and, no, we shall stick to genuinely inclusive events in the future. Because at the moment my extremely talented, strong and inspirational wife feels like shit and doesn’t want to go running.
      We certainly won’t be back.
      Good luck with future events.


      1. Hi I ran the marathon as well. I too got held up at the start and at the bottle neck up the narrow path. However I managed to make both the 8mile. Mainly because I realised I had to make the 3 plus minutes up that I had lost. Whether or not the check point was at 8miles or 8.2miles you didn’t get to it in the time that was both spelt out on the web site and on the si entry registration page for the event. Blaming the event because you didn’t make the cut off is a tad petty, do you not think? Whether you agree with the rules (that were clearly stated) is irrelevant.
        I’m sorry you had a bad experience.
        Email you’re address and I’ll post you my marathon medal ad it clearly means more you guys than me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ahh, but that’s because you’re so much better than us Phil, many, many congratulations on your achievement from us both.
        Look forward to catching up with soon.
        PS – you EARNED your medal, you should treasure it like we do all of ours.


  2. No offence at all intended! my comment re the last 3miles was more related to it being mainly downhill and my own personal feeling at the end of a long run of downhill hurting more than uphill and not at all me trying to point out to any runner experienced or otherwise that the last miles of any race are hard. Apologies if it came across that way! 🤐

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Comment at Phil, did you read the blog? They DID read the website and planned to get thru the split, and indeed managed, to get thru the split within the requisite time. When you’ve done that and the split is not there, I would also be a tad miffed with the organisers. As a regular marshal at events, I entirety agree with cut offs on longer races, but the pre event information has to be correct for people who put a lot of time effort and money to prepare.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kevin. You are wrong I’m no better than you our you’re wife, and don’t claim to be. I only managed to get round in 5hours and 26minutes. And as you say you would have finished in 5hours 15
      This was my first marathon and so you’re achievements and experiences far out way mine.
      I’m sorry you both had a bad experience. I hope that looking back you can at least appreciate being able to run in such beautiful surroundings.
      I genuinely wish both of you the best worth you’re next goals.
      Regards Phil

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi bonners
    Yes I did read the blog.
    Was just pointing out that they weren’t the only ones to have the difficult start and bottle neck situation.
    Unfortunately if imerys say the check point was at 8miles surely you have to take there word for it. Regardless of what you’re watch says?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It wasn’t my watch Phil, it was the 8 mile marker on the course, the actual cut off was several hundred yards AFTER the sign which said 8 miles. My point was that if you’re going to be deadly accurate with the cut off time you need to be deadly accurate with the information you give the runners. You must have felt you’d ran too hard so early on the race? I just didn’t understand why the first cut off demanded that runners who were capable of even pacing a 5.30 marathon we’re being asked to run at 5 hour pace for the first section. That’s why it was so galling to have timed it perfectly to arrive at the 8 mile marker which had been placed by the organisers (who’s website states the cut off & course split is ARE 8 miles) with 10s to spare. Anyway it really doesn’t matter, there are so many events to look forward to where runners who like to evenly spread their pace and effort over the race are made welcome. As for the bottle neck- it just adds to the tension for those runners and makes it are far less pleasurable experience. You said it doesn’t matter if it’s 8 or 8.2. It does if you’re going to tell people it’s 8, especially if you’re going to make a point of being deadly accurate with the time. Personally I think they are trying to discourage runners who are going to take over 5 hours, which would probably translate to 4.15 on a fast flat course, which is why I believe it’s not inclusive. They said there was absolutely no time limit or cut off for the half. So those marshals could have been out there for 5 hours waiting for half marathon runners? So I stand by my points. I actually couldn’t care less, there are so many lovely inclusive marathons to do. I would recommend anybody who fancys a bimble around a quirky 13.1 miles in a quarry in Cornwall to try this but I’m afraid the marathon set up isn’t aimed at people like Nicky and myself. As Bonners said, cut offs are there for safety and to ensure volunteers are stood down in fair time. I just feel in this instance they’re not very well thought out.
      I genuinely hope you go on to enjoy many more marathons Phil and I’m sure we’ll see you at a Mudcrew event (the RAT?) and I genuinely thank you for engaging with the blog, it’s good to know it’s thought provoking even if we might not agree about everything.


  5. Kevin I wasn’t trying to blame you. I’m sorry if I came across that way.
    Look I said it was only my first one, so I don’t have anything to compare it too.
    I do understand your point.
    Yes I did feel the effects of my earlier effort towards the end.
    Please tell your wife from me that she should feel down, or that she and you are not good enough.
    Whether or not you finished the imerys marathon our not, you have already achieved far greater feats than a clay quarry marathon.
    All the best


Leave a Reply to Lesley Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s