Left to Right: Nick Crehan (Full), Lee Cutforth (Full), Paul Taylor (Full), Andy Wright (Half), Susan Laceby (Half), Kirstie Dodsley (Half), Darren Dodsley (Full), and Jason Buckley (me, Full) all ran in Boston (UK) on Sunday 15 Apr 2019. Julie Buckley, Helen Whitham and daughter Annabelle were there doing a cracking cheerleading and support role. The marathon started at 9am, and the half at 9:10am. Both races shared the same few miles at the start and end of the races. There was also a 5k fun run.
Boston’s the UK’s flattest marathon course. At the meet and greet the night before the run, where sandwiches were served up and the organisers milled about with the runners, a friendly old chap came over for a chat. He turned out to be the chairman of the race committee, telling us how it’s not a big city marathon, but more of a community thing. We’d guessed it was more of an intimate gig than Wembley Stadium, but that gave it a unique flavour. He also turned out to be the town’s ex mayor and relayed how he’d made the Manchester Marathon correct their website after they’d too claimed to be the flattest marathon, when they were practically a fell race compared with the snooker table fields of Lincolnshire! The only incline out on the course was the odd tiny bridge which he told us was a legacy of Boston’s salt-producing past.
Photo source: https://daviddales.smugmug.com/Boston-Marathon-UK-2019/2ndgallery/
Arguably, the advantage of flatness was eroded away a little the following day as the exposed nature of the course led to a steady headwind. Some of the KADS crew said they didn’t much notice it, but some of the others (me included) found ourselves wishing the wind would back off just a little. It was running at about 13mph when we headed out into it, the marathon turning around back towards Boston at around mile 11 at which point it became more intermittent. The temperature helped us all out though, sitting at about 7°C at the start, drawing out a mixture in kit choice from the KADS, from vest over T with gloves to just a vest with shorts.
The marathon field totalled 615 runners, and the half drew 561, so these were relatively small events, but they’re growing year-on-year. Once we were off out of the town and into the fields there weren’t many spectators to draw energy from, although the half marathoners didn’t seem to notice this as much as the 26.2 milers. The water stations were plentiful and well spread out, with the volunteers holding out bottles with the tops already opened and encouraging the runners as we rolled on past. They only had water, no isotonic drinks or gels, but a fruit station around mile 20 was handing out peeled banana and strawberries. I’d made the error of not practising running with water only as a drink, but I knocked back half a bar of salted dates from Decathlon every 30 mins for the first couple of hours, and with my usual oats-peanut butter-sultana breaky munched at 6:45am I felt like I had enough fuel. I drank at most of the stations even though it remained cool throughout the race.
Everyone did themselves proud out on the course, and Darren deserves a special mention in my book, having been suffering with a couple of injuries in the later stages of preparation and was doubtful to start. He’d written Ju’s mobile on the back of his race number in case he needed recovery from out on the course. Personally, I can’t imagine even starting a 26 mile race with that kind of thought gnawing away, and I was inspired by him even starting. Not that he needed to worry, having paired up with Nick (who was running his first ever marathon too, and came in at a great time of 3:55:01) for much of the course, he absolutely smashed a lifetime ambition of four hours with a solid 3:47:27 effort. I think it’s fair to say he was happy at the finish, a truly great sight to see and to be a small part of, well done Daz.
A fair few other KADS marathon and half marathon PBs fell to the flatlands too, despite the windy conditions. Kirstie Dodsley knocked a massive 12 minutes from her previous best half marathon! Paul Taylor was the first marathon KAD home, putting the hammer down to finish 7th overall in the marathon in 2:49:24, running at just under 6:30 min mile pace for 26.2 miles – wow! Lee was the second KADS man home in 3:13:31, another fantastic run.
Photo source: https://daviddales.smugmug.com/Boston-Marathon-UK-2019/Third-phase/i-htZLW75/A
This being my first timed marathon, and not having done any racing over winter, I had to use a recent 5k time in estimator charts and websites, plus evidence from my old Strava runs to come up with a pace to go at. I ran a 19:02 Parkrun the week before, so according to the various charts in the Lore of Running by Tim Noakes, I could theoretically finish a marathon in between 2:56:02 and 3:06:11, if I’d done appropriate training. The time predictor on the Running World website had me at 3:16:19, based on the same 5k time and the fact I’d been doing (roughly) 45 miles a week in training. I was dubious. My training’s all been geared up to lots of slow miles building up to the uphill 28 mile Zermatt-Gornergrat marathon in July, and I’ve only done a couple of longish run at 8 min per mile pace, and they were only 13 and 15 miles long. On those runs my heart rate averaged 155 (85% of my max of about 182 – I’m 46), which I guessed was probably about as high as I can manage for a full marathon. I’ve done lots of slow half marathons, a fair few hilly 17 and 18 mile runs, and a couple of over 20 miles, but few tempo, fartlek or interval runs.
I’ve developed a healthy respect for long runs, which can really wear you down towards the end, and eventually came up with the strategy of running steady 8 min miles for the first half, then speeding up if I felt good. That would see me finish in a bit under 3:30:00, way off those estimated times (one day maybe!). In the end I did 3:26:25, and I’m really pleased with it. The strategy worked. I started and finished in a controlled way, I felt like I pushed as hard as I could, managed to avoid the dreaded wall (although I felt myself slowing in miles 23 to 25) and learned a few mental lessons about running over this kind of distance. Like starting further back in the field for example, it felt like EVERYONE ran past me in the first 6 miles which had me watch-watching endlessly trying to keep the pace down.
With a few of us staying in the same hotel after the run, the KADS tradition of rehydration was followed in the pub opposite, a great celebration following a solid effort all round. I’d personally like to thank everyone for their support in the run up to the day and for putting up with my nervous marathon-newbie questions!
Cheers ladies and gentlemen, and go KADS! For more information and photos:
P.S. A few more photos of the mighty KADS in action: