Newcastle Town Moor Marathon, Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Chris Hills 10 in 10

Andrew Thompson …

I was really hyped up for this race, I planned to smash my PB I set last year here and finish the challenge in a blaze of glory. It didn’t happen but I gave it a go, I crossed halfway at 1hr 42 and felt good until 20 miles but I kind of knew that adrenalin alone wasn’t going to carry me over the line regardless of how much I wanted it to. It didn’t matter, what made the day special was that 10 Striders, (including two marathon virgins) a huge fetch gathering and numerous faces from the marathon circuit I’ve dipped my toe in recent months were running. Added to that were Liz Hills (Chris’s mum), Al, Phil, Jeff H, my kids and dad as well as a most vocal fetchpoint at the bandstand on the moor for moral support. For the first lap I was trailing some guy to try and keep up the blistering pace I had gone off at, he must have thought I was some kind of socialite as every third step was an encouraging shout, dynamic over the fence hi5, fist pump, photo or a note perfect rendition of “you’ve lost that loving feeling” (thanks Phil…) it was like nothing else I’ve been involved in. Big well done to especially to John, Danny and Sue for getting out of their comfort zones and going the distance, and Paul E flew round the course—his first marathon in years done in a great 3hrs 10 finishing in 11th he had an exceptional run. Is that the fastest Strider marathon of the year?

Hallelujah! So with that the challenge has finished and everything seems to have fallen into place nicely and all that was set out to do has been done: I’m pleased that Liz and the rest of the Hills family liked, and got behind, the challenge. Nobody should have to go through what she and her family did and hopefully this, 7 years down the line, was a suitable gesture to let them know that Chris continues to be remembered.

Some extra pleasing news was that (thanks to a donation from Captain Brooks yesterday morning) the fundraising passed the team total of £5000 and I’m super pleased and a little overwhelmed also that about 60 people, including loads of Striders, turned out for the post-race party. Hopefully a great time was had by all.

One thing I wasn’t overjoyed at was when the microphone was passed to me at the party… Had I been forewarned (Liz had a speech written down already so must have been in the know) about this I probably wouldn’t have turned up so it was probably a wise move to spring it on me. Anyway what seemed like hours later when I put the microphone down with shaky hands and sweating brow I got a tap on the shoulder and there was a rather angry looking queue of people led by my wife who I had forgotten to thank… sorry!!! Poor old Anna has the thankless task of being a running widow for the last few years while doing a nightshift job and looking after our 2 kids while I have been gallivanting round the country doing what I enjoy. Also involved are putting up with the incessant mood swings that go with marathon running and listening to me harp on about it all the time. So BIG thanks to Anna. That should get me out of the dog house, for a while anyway. One dog house I will never get out of is with my dear mother who joined team 10 in 10 and did 5 marathons since April along with a lot of fundraising too so big well done and thanks to her for helping. Although she prefers to be a wallflower, she is a merciless fundraiser!

The 10 races have been great fun, even the hard slog ones I have taken good things from. The standout race for me was Coniston—number 5. Everything about the preparation went wrong-camping with kids didn’t work for us first time round… added to that it was the hottest weekend of the year with very little water on a brute of a course. The first pint at the end was well earned, which makes it all the better. Close behind that was race number 2 in Caythorpe, Lincolnshire, where Richard Hall and I got lost and ran nearly 30 miles—that was the moment that I realised that sometimes conquering what is thrown at you along the way is the achievement rather than the time it takes. Number 6, the Dovedale Dipper was another long haul to the Peak District (with Gibbo Gibson this time) and it was the only one that I’ve felt I didn’t do myself justice on but it was a hell of a route! As an add on was the GNR leading a gallant band of Tetris blocks which was something different, we (including super Strider Jean Gillespie) raised well over £1000 on the back of that day which was a great fundraising boost to set up the final straight of the challenge.

Life dictates that I can’t make it to the club as often as I used to but the support and encouragement I have received from everyone has been a big help. Having people who run harder, faster and further around us mere mortals is a great incentive to improve. Also the new Parkrun has given a weekly incentive to test and better oneself when otherwise training may go stale which has been a big motivator recently as well. Furthermore there are the dedicated team of webmasters/nerds (arf!) who run a website to rival the BBC herself—you email in a report and an hour later, regardless of time of day, it is there and online. I’m sure Colin doesn’t actually live in the wilds of the Dales, but is actually locked in a broom-cupboard somewhere under Maiden Castle waiting for a report to come in. Anyway, it all just goes to show that we are indeed members of a most super club.

A question that the end of one challenge brings is where to go from there… the ultra-path looks tempting though so does bettering my marathon time. At the pub I was just running through some options and setting up the coming years races when I saw poor old Anna with her head in her hands. She thought it was over! No, my love, just getting started I’m afraid… better put my blanket back in the dog house, I’m not out of it yet.

… and Danny Lim

This was my first marathon and I was really apprehensive about the whole affair. I’d never felt this nervous pre-race since my first Great North Run back in 2002. We gathered at the cafe on the Town Moor. I had the chance to meet up with fellow striders with the usual pre-race photo. The start was refreshingly free from fan-fare. Unlike the GNR, there was no silly aerobics warm-up, no cheesy music or DJ. Just a man with the starting whistle.

So far so good ... The course is 5 convoluted loops around the town moor. I believe that many runners, myself included, started off way too fast. I was pacing myself for a sub-5 hour finish. I knew from last years results, many runners that had finished beyond 5 hours. I was keeping on-pace but I was was one of the last few runners. Angela, Dave and Sue were only 20 seconds behind me. They were having their own little party at the back, whooping and cheering with every marshall they passed. As I passed Flip who was marshalling, he joked, “only 25 miles to go”. Thanks!

All the marshalls were extrememly supportive and would cheer us enthusiatically everytime I passed. And there were marhalls every few minutes of the course. Though I usually run with music, I didn’t need to wear my headphones because, they provided all the encouragement needed. Also, there were many points where the slower and faster runners could see each other and we would give each other cheers of encouragement. I had at times seen Dougie, Andrew and John on the course. Even the Fetchies (from Fetcheveryone.com) had set up their own fetch-point at the band stand and I got lots of cheers from there too.

The first and second laps flew by pretty quickly. I was feeling stong and looking at my Garmin, I was way ahead of schedule and very optimistically calculated a finishing time of 4:30.

On the third lap, things started getting tougher. I was forced to jog at a much slower pace. “This marathon is a serious distance!” I thought to myself. As I passed the 20 mile marker, I was in terra incognita. I’d never run this far before and wondered what monsters awaited me. The final lap was by far the hardest. I had stopped to walk for a water break and Alister cajoled me for walking, “Come on Danny, I can’t take a photo of you walking!”. So grumbling under my breath, I plodded on. Another mile later and my right calf then my left thigh had started to cramp up. This was very worrying as I had never experienced this in a race before. I resorted to alternating between walking and jogging. Even Flip with his dodgy dancing and singing couldn’t keep me going!

I had hit the proverbial wall. But I don’t think I pushed through it, but more like staggered past it in a feeble sort of way. I was hurting everywhere. My heart and lungs seemed to be exhausted. My arms felt numb. My legs had mutinied. I only had willpower to keep me going. Walk and jog. Walk and jog. Walk and jog. Eventually, I was on final approach to the finish. And what a relief it was to hear striders cheering me home!

This is the friendliest race I have ever ran to date and I would definitely recommend it to anyone including newcomers. A big thank you to all the marshalls and organisers for a fantastic race. Also, thank you Striders and Fetchies for cheering us on that day. I’m glad I did it. But I think I will retire from marathon running for the forseeable future!

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Peter Stockdale UK Net Runner M 1 2:55:38
11 Paul Evans M 3:10:15
30 Rachel Chinnery Tynedale Harriers FV45 1 3:25:54
63 Andrew Thompson M M 3:51:36
68 Anna Seeley F 3:55:38
78 John Hutchinson MV55 4:06:28
100 Dougie Nisbet MV45 4:32:48
105 Dave Robson MV60 4:38:44
114 Danny Lim M 4:57:14
118 Angela Proctor FV35 5:06:28
125 Margaret Thompson FV60 5:27:37
127 Susan Jennings FV45 5:33:59

127 finishers.

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