Tyne Bridge Harrier John Hurse is training hard and putting in some superb mileage in preparation for his 2012 Comrades Marathon. For a ‘training run’, John chose the Hull Marathon at the weekend. Here is his superb account of the day.
The search for a spring marathon began with the usual suspects. Early hopes of a place in the VLM came and went (three times including the club draws), Brighton sold out, Manchester too late, possible excursions to Europe ruled out. Finally I came across the inaugural running of the Hull marathon. If you trawled the bucket lists of runners, aside from possible home town bias, it is unlikely that one of them would contain the Hull marathon. It wasn’t going to be VLM, Kielder or Snowdonia. But as this was a training run, it didn’t need to be. The event had other benefits, namely being fairly close, around the right date and the suggestion that it would be relatively flat.
Despite being a training session there was still some pressure for the race to go well or at least to avoid the wheels coming off completely. My main focus this year (Comrades: a race that is on many a bucket list) requires a qualification time to determine your seeding. Plan A: was to get sub 3hr40 then 20 minute increments to Plan E: at sub 5hrs. Plan F: would mean I’d be watching rather than running Comrades. The past few weeks have been tough with a few niggles that have prevented training, just as I was heading into an important and final part of the schedule. Having completed 24 miles last Sunday I was confident that I could do the distance albeit with a run / walk strategy if it came to it.
So, race day came and it was an early 8am start. Having arrived at the race HQ with a good 10 minutes to spare it was a calm preparation to drop the bag off as they continued to call for runners to get to the start line. Slightly overcast with no wind or rain, conditions seemed perfect. My only issue was finding one of those GPS satellites that we have become so reliant on. I’m not sure if they invested in a countdown, but out of the blue the starting gun fired.
The race started with a loop of the city centre before heading out towards the Hull football/rugby stadium where I noticed a runner with a Comrades 2011 finishers t-shirt and took the opportunity to have a quick chat about the race and received some really helpful advice. As he already had his qualifying time for his return trip, I said goodbye and set off in search of mine with some renewed motivation to get there.
After the stadium the route followed a seemingly straight road for the next 4 miles as the drizzle and slight head wind began, ending with a steady climb up before a left towards the Humber Bridge. Now, as far as bridges go I’m no connoisseur. Having said that, it makes an imposing sight over the river and provided some of the more pleasant views of the race. Across one side before a loop and back over, the bridge rattled as we ran over. To distract the mind, I wondered whether it was the fear of the mighty Tyne Bridge vest above causing it to shake in fear. Maybe it could be explained by physics. I’m not a scientist.
By now we were approaching half way and headed back along towards the city centre. This section consisted of several industrial estates before arriving at the marina and was all in all uneventful other than a brief trip through a park and around a small lake. As we approached the marina the sun crept out offering some warmth. There were many spectators around this area and they provided some quality support and encouragement. Through the marina we started to head out the other side involving a few sharp corners, which start to become difficult in that final 10k when the legs are starting to wobble and your turning circle matches a family saloon. Heading along a narrow gravel track as runners returned the opposite way, I reached the end of the track alone. The marshal shouted to run around the boy and head back. I’m easily confused, especially after 22 miles. I stopped and looked for a boy to run around. He meant buoy. There was a bollard. I ran around it and headed on my way.
Back to the marina, the route then headed towards the start / finish line where the crowds started to pick up again. Another lap of the centre and we filtered into the finishing straight with enough cheers of support to encourage a final dose of adrenaline allowing me to lengthen the strides and pretend the last 3 miles hadn’t been more of a shuffle. Across the line in 3hr24, slightly disappointed I’d wasted more energy than I needed to but at the same time a sense of satisfaction that qualification for Comrades is (hopefully) sorted and the knee and legs seem to be holding out to get back into training.
Overall, it was a successful first running of the Hull marathon. The organisers will take away many points to improve, and I would reserve further judgement until after the second running to see if they ironed out some key issues. But it is what it is (it is not Kielder) and if you’re not worried about some of the scenery then it’s a good little morning run. In my opinion, for what it’s worth