Today saw the running of what is claimed to be the flattest, so I guess the fastest marathon course in the UK with only 50m elevation over the 26.2 course. For most, the goal is to just get around the 26.2 mile course but for club athletes its all about the time. I suppose this is the main difference between road and fell racing and because of this I think mentally its tougher; to run down Geronimo you just take your brain out and go!
My preparation like most had been a long winter on the tarmac and canal banks of Lancashire, meticulously building my weekly mileage up week-week. Long Sunday runs became the norm going from 13-22 mile over a 12 week period, always looking at my watch. Winter races all planned around preparation; 5 & 10k’s to keep up leg speed and I must say the road training helped me put down a 5kpb in just under 18 minutes. Then Blackpool half marathon for a middle distance run at speed (the wind spoiled that) and finally Trimpell 20 because you’ve got to test the marathon race pace, which I was happy at 2:10 and some seconds, although not shown on the results!
Race day is all about the preparation and the silly poncho to keep you warm on the start line (fell runner goes soft?!?). Preparation consisting of electrolytes, magnesium, protein and plenty of carbs. I think I ate my body weight in pasta in the 48hr leading up to the race!
The race kicked off at 9am with the legend Ron Hill setting off the 10,000 runners. My plan – 6min30’s for as long as I could hold on; I figured I did it for 20 at Trimpell so should be capable of holding it for 26miles? Unfortunately not. It lasted to 13miles! 13-19 mile in 6:50’s then the wall. Your mind wants you to run quick but your body screams at you at every step. My times started to slip: 7:20, 7:40, 7:50 then Paul Hesketh came breezing past me at 20 miles. I knew then it could be over; my mind telling me to keep going, my body just wanting to withdraw into a darkened room. 10k to go 48mins to do it in- surely I could manage that. Mile by mile my times got slower: 7:50; 7:55, 8:00min.Thoughts of the 3hr pacer coming past me any minute. 25miles now and Garry Wilkinson was in the crowd. He could sense I was struggling, running next to me giving me words of encouragement; the 3hr pacer closing in on me….100metrs behind, 90meters, 60meters… Garry screaming at me ‘You can do it Motley…come on!!!’. Finally Old Trafford and the finish line. A finishing time of 2:59:24 running straight into the arms of Mr Cannonball (John Lloyd) who could sense my suffering, making an offering of food, water, silly marathon blanket. Next onto to congratulate Paul Hesketh who had an absolute stormer finishing his marathon in 2:56:15.
Will I continue to run on tarmac, Yes definitely. I feel stronger and better for it and it definitely helps with fell running. Will it be me my main focus, probably not for me the Great British fells are much more fun. Will I do another marathon, not for a long long time, my hat goes off to Clayton marathon men. Good luck to all of you at London.
Out of 10,000 runners the clayton boys finished as follows:
140 – Paul Hesketh – 2:56:15
197 – Dave Motley – 2:59:24
572 – Simon Halliday – 3:15:40
1213 – Nick Roscoe – 3:32:30