Brighton Marathon Race Report: 12th April 2015, by Chris Bartlett
All marathons should be 26.2 miles long, and yet they are all different. Even if you have run the course before (as I had in 2013 and 2014) 2015 would bring new challenges. This year was the first time since I joined the club that I could have a decent go at training with a number of Sunday long runs with others who will run Manchester next weekend. Their support over the past few weeks has been wonderful and got me in the best shape for a marathon. The challenge for me – to finally break four hours.
As with many other major race events, Brighton now has a marathon weekend, with kids racing a mile on the Saturday, an expo where you must collect your number and a 10k on the Sunday setting off 45 minutes before the marathon. Travelling down on Friday meant I was able to get my number on the Saturday. Also joining in the fun this year was Alex Battersby and Aimee Cook. We planned to meet at some point on the Sunday so Saturday allowed time to prepare, and an excuse for me to help with some local canvassing (there is an election on you know). Walking the streets of Brighton on a sunny Saturday afternoon talking politics was probably not the best preparation but it kept my mind occupied.
Sunday morning arrived with clear blue sky and a chill in the air. The start at Preston Park was full of the runners getting ready and I found the Run Brighton pacers who I was going to run with on the day. In the crowds I did not see Aimee or Alex, and it was time to go to the start which is split into colours depending on your expected time. 9.15am arrived and Jo Pavey started the race.
The course winds around the streets of Brighton as well as along the coast, so they are a number of places where you have runners running towards you on the other side of the road – an opportunity I thought to see where Aimee and Alex were. I ran with the pacers (who were doing a 3:45 pace) for the first 11 miles. The sun was warming things up but all was good. This year the marathon had done away with water bottles and were using cups so that they could have more frequent water stations and reduce wastage. The early stations were a bit crowded and I doubt I actually got much water down me as most of it just fell out of the cup (later stations were easier as the runners thinned out). There had been no sign of my fellow TBH’s until mile 12 as I heard my name called from behind and there was Aimee motoring along. At this point I tried to keep pace and therefore went ahead of the pacers I had been running with – note to self – this is not a good idea. After the half way point at 13.1 miles Aimee was off into the distance and I slowed up as the pacers caught up with me as we entered Hove. This is a long “there and back” section in the main Hove high street and as I came to run back Alex was not far behind coming the opposite way. A great boost to see another TBH vest as I was now struggling with the heat and the pacers were starting to get ahead of me. 8 miles to go and it was starting to get pretty warm.
20 miles and the section round the power station, an industrial section on the edge of Hove. There are very few people watching at this point and no one was talking as they ran. It was quiet, just the sound of trainers against tarmac and the sea. Faces were starting to show signs of stress with the heat. Another wave from Alex as we past each other going in opposite directions was another boost. Quite of few people were now walking around me and my pace had dropped right off, but with only 3 miles to go a sub 4 hour was now a real chance. The course was now beside the beach and the crowds had come out in force with the bright sunshine. There was fantastic support all the way to the finish. The final mile even saw a small increase in pace and the grandstand just roared everyone on.
Across the finish, exhausted, emotional but job done. All three of us managed to meet up at the finish, and agree it had been a really hot and hard last few miles but really worth it for the achievement.
Time is, of course, just an artificial human creation. We obsess about magic milestones and challenge ourselves – I am just as guilty. I will be back in 2016, I do like my trip to the seaside.
Aimee Cook 3:39:57
Alex Battersby 3:58:22
Chris Bartlett 3:54:08