Greensands marathon, not one for road shoes, but I had nothing else on the day.
This is a great ‘Grass roots’ event hosted by Tronium. It is a great 26.2 trail miles over the Greensands way starting in Dorking. An out and back course with one mighty tough hill about 800m from the finish line. That was an absolute leg burner!!
It was (and still is) early days in my marathon running exploits. My first being Loch Ness Marathon (2:59) in Autumn 2011 and my second was Edinburgh Marathon (2:59) in Spring 2012. I got this idea that maybe it would be good to continue on this numerical pattern where the final digit of the year should equal the amount of marathons for the year. That way it will be very easy to track how many I have done in the future. So with it being 2012 and only having one marathon to my name for the year, I needed to book in another one! And so the search began. After achieving my target 2:54 in Edinburgh, I continued on with a general training plan, it consisted of the structured speed sessions, long runs and tempo sessions. Although I didn’t have a target race to train for, the enjoyment of running and keeping marathon fit (and continuing to strengthen) was motivation enough. I came across the website of Greensands Marathon about 2 months before the start date. I liked the idea of it- Hilly, challenging, off road, almost guaranteed rain… what wasn’t to like? I continued on training and kept it in the ‘back pocket’ as a potential race to do. Time passed, training continued and the Monday evening before the race I signed up! It was game on!
The trip out to Dorking on the damp, chilly, typical English morning went hand in hand with the setting of the start and what was to come. The registration hall was filling with dedicated people, who seemed very accustomed to the organisation and requirements of the low key marathon. People were kitted up in trail running shoes, packs, poles and Buff Bandanas. This was a lot different to the road running marathon starts I was used to. But I liked it and was excited by what was to come. I laced up my road shoes, stuck a couple of gels in my shorts and was ready to go.
I liked heading into this event with no real time pressure or major goal- mainly as I didn’t know what to expect for my first trail marathon. My goal for the day was to push hard until the end and finish.
The start of the event was marked with singing some song about parting the sea or something like that. Apparently it is a tradition for Tronium events. It was a little weird, but got the laughter and enthusiasm up! Then it began, and we were off. I ran at a comfortable pace, not to hard and not worrying about people around me. I was ticking through about 7:30m/m pace and really enjoying the location of the run. This was one of the main draws to this event, being able to run in the elements and enjoy the natural environment lining the track. At about 4 miles a guy (Lee Kemp) shot past me and I thought- ‘all the best mate, burn out strong’, he didn’t at all, finishing with a sub 3hr time and going on to be British champion later that year. I got back to running my own race and enjoying it. The choice of road shoes was not the best, trying to avoid some of the larger puddles covering the track I found myself running on the steeper banks, this then of course lead me to slip right into the puddles I was trying to avoid. Accepting this I pressed on and enjoyed. The hills of the course were challenging, but I ran them with the mantra- ‘if it feels easy, it’s probably still too hard’, so I just took them as they came, nice and easy. The trail was well marked and navigation was easy. The out and back allows you to see who is in front when the lead runners come past. And when this happened I counted 3, so for me it was 4th place. I pushed on and thought, with half done I can afford to push a bit harder and see where I go with this. I was receiving updates from the aid station crews about 3rd place. First it was ‘4 minutes ahead- come on’ then they said ‘ he is only 800m ahead- keep working’, this lit a fire in me. Imagine coming 3rd in a marathon! That would be unreal! A though I only had for a moment, before a told myself to focus, continue moving and don’t be distracted by these fairy tale thoughts just yet. Run hard and enjoy. The red shirt of 3rd place came into view at about 19miles and I was gaining ground quickly. We came level for about 1 min then I started to pull away, what a feeling to be in 3rd. This was followed by a very steep downhill, and all I could here was his pounding foot steps behind me, as I ran in fear. This easy going Sunday run with no major goals or expectations, had suddenly turned into a race and it was game on. I started to run hard and push the hills. If I wasn’t working hard, I wasn’t working hard enough. Without looking back I persisted and had confidence that I was putting distance into 4th place. It was a different race for the next 6 miles, my legs started to burn and I was grateful I took it easier in the first half. I had some fuel to burn in the tank and burnt it I did, running every step of the way, until the final hill with about 800m to go. I started to cramp in the labouring quads and was reduced to a walk! I was fearing for the worst and just moved forward as fast as I could. As I crested the hill and started the following decent I caught site of the finish line, which made me smile and finish fast. In total surprise and elation I came across the line in 3rd with 3:16… and I was stoked!
I took a quick look at my watch which registered 25.9 miles… so I ran over the finish line, straight into a easier paced ‘cool down’ job, making sure I finished with 26.2 on the clock. Wouldn’t want to skimp on the Sunday long run after all!!
A highly recommended Race! http://www.trionium.com/greensand/