The Grizedale Marathon 2016

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Tamsin Imber

The day before the race

The waterfall coming down from Easedale Tarn was a raging, white torrent! Even though we were about a mile away, from our windy vantage point on the top of a small knoll, we could see the water moving; jets of white falling water. The beautiful surrounding bracken of the hillside was deep red, dotted with a few windswept trees, and higher up the tops of the fells had a light dusting of snow. It had been raining heavily all day. After driving over to Grasmere from Durham this morning, and a café lunch in Grasmere village we had put the kids in wellies and full waterproofs and splashed/waded our way a mile along the path towards Easedale Tarn in the heavy rain and blustery wind. The path was more of a stream, the adjacent fast-flowing stream having burst its banks in several places! This was the day before the Grizedale marathon, and although I was now enjoying being out in the rain, I would prefer it not to rain during the event tomorrow!

Race Day!

At 7am, still dark outside, and after a rough nights sleep in the youth hostel (I’m not a good sleeper away from home) the high energy 1980’s disco alarm went off on my mobile. The kids jumped out of the bunk beds and started dancing. (How do kids do this when they were snoring 3 seconds ago?!). …I moved the curtain and took a peak out of the window..it had stopped raining! Yes! ..I felt excited!

My plan was to use the Grizedale marathon as a long training run for the Manchester marathon in April. A change from running my usual long run routes around Durham, and a good excuse for a family weekend break in the Lakes! So I was planning to run at an easy-steady pace. Chill a bit and enjoy the scenery and the social aspect.

We were all assembled at the start at the Grizedale Visitor Centre. 5,4,3,2,1 GO! boomed the loudspeaker! We were off! The crowd of runners moved forwards through the inflatable start-line arch! The route wound up and up and up into the deep Grizedale forest! The track was lined with tall dark green branchy conifers. The pine smelt fresh. I found myself in a group going at a nice steady pace, just the sound of our breathing and our feet on the forest track. This was nice. Relaxing! Peace and quiet from the noise of the kids in the car earlier! At around 6 miles ish the track turned into a deeply rutted path on the top of the moor above the treeline, with puddles and bog. I found myself behind a group of 5 lads. They kept leaping from side to side to avoid puddles/rocks/mud, as did I. Everytime I jumped to one side there was a guy who jumped right in front of me. He knew I was there but was just trying to find the best route. However it made me want to get past him. As soon as the path widened I waited for a gap and ran hard past them. Suddenly it felt fantastic going fast on the top of the moor! ..And also now I was past them I wasn’t going to let them catch me! I increased my speed to make sure of this and ran up and down, up and down along the very undulating narrow ridge path with a view the high snow topped mountains across the valley. Who-hoo! I kept going fast and passed another girl, then no-one for a while. The route went back downhill through the forest, great to keep up speed. After a quick jaffa cake at the first check point I caught up with 2 guys. We chatted a bit. One was from Yorkshire. He said he supposed the view was ok but it wasnt Yorkshire! Ha ha. Then ‘Marathon Man’ caught us up. He was doing 52 marathons in 52 days! After talking he bade us farewell and sped off into the distance!! ..Nearly half way now. Mentally this marathon is a fantastic route, two loops of 13.1 miles each, so you know exactly where half way is. As a neared the half way point a couple came towards me peddling uphill on their bikes. They shouted out that I was the second lady that had passed them! …Well, if that was the case, I was going to race! I needed to keep the pace up in the second loop. Not let the girl I passed earlier catch me up. The pressure was on!

The second loop began with a steep climb up a boldery rain eroded path. It went over another ridge, down to and around the head of Esthwaite Water, past Beatrix potter, up into the wilds again over another ridge, this one a bit more exposed and windy (thanks Debbie for the buff!) then down through beautiful forest to the shore of Lake Windermere. The sun came out for a moment and the glimpses of sparkling water and moored boats could be seen through gaps in the trees. The regular rushing lapping of waves on the shore from the brisk wind could be heard. I spotted some runners ahead. One was tall and thin, and wearing a pink cap and top. Could this be the first lady?! I needed to find out! I Increased my speed! They were going fast and the path kept going over hillocks and round corners around the lake-side so they kept going out of sight! They stopped at the final check-point. It was a guy. Oh well! The final check point was amazing! A table with a large spread of cakes, peanuts, jelly babies and drinks! The marshall proudly declared he had made the flapjack himself and that it contained so much fat and sugar It would keep you going for 2 weeks!:) I thanked him and ate as much of it as I could in 2 minutes, then ran on up the hill. The final part of the route wound back over the ridges back towards Grizedale forest. With two miles to go I suddenly felt really tired! I tried as best as I could to keep up the pace but a few runners past me. There were a few fun stream crossings in the forest, ..but back on the forest track it seemed to stretch on and on! I must not let her catch me! She could be just behind me ! Finally a steep hill and the joyous sight of the roof of the visitor centre!! Just back down the boldery hill, onto the road, round the corner….and there was the finishing arch! Yippee! 2nd place was mine! …and literally 2 minutes later the girl behind ran through the arch! … ha ha ha I had been right to keep on the pace!

There was a small presentation in the visitor centre cafe afterwards. Everyone was very friendly and chatty. The first lady had finished 30minutes ahead of me, super speedy! My husband and kids arrived, the kids full of excitement as they had also had a good morning leaping about at the outdoor treetop adventure course at Brockholes. We were all hungry and enjoyed a hot lunch of juicy sausage bread buns with oinions and hot chocolate in the warm cafe!

Extract from the book Running My Way by Tamsin Imber with permission from Pitch Publishing.

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