Brighton Marathon Race Report, Sunday 6th April 2014
By Christopher Bartlett
The problem with weather forecasts is that they are never right. For once they were wrong in the right way on Sunday on the South Coast of England.
The forecast had been for heavy rain and wind and all the talk at the marathon weekend event at the Brighton centre was for poor weather, cold and a tough day for those who would be out on the course for a long time. Time! That was going to be a tricky one for me. Having been injured in late October and not being able to run properly until early February I only really trained for eight weeks. Training had gone well though, with lots of long runs with club members on a Sunday morning and by the weekend of the race I felt completely injury free, a real confidence boost.
My previous marathon best had been 4 hours 56 minutes, but that was BTBH (Before Tyne Bridge Harriers) so I arrived at the start at Preston Park in Brighton on a chilly but dry Sunday morning still unsure which pacer to join up with. I decided 4 hr 30min seemed sensible but on the way down to the start I managed to lose the pacers in the crowd while chatting to other runners. So into the crowds and off we went.
The course is generally flat with one of the bigger climbs in the first mile, a good way of getting into the running. The weather forecast had improved and with the cloud showing signs of slowly lifting the crowds were starting to come out as we ran through central Brighton and then along the coast in an easterly direction. With no pacer in sight I was sticking to my 10 minute mile pace and realised that I was passing more people than was passing me. Once the race had gone through the first 4 miles or so the crowds thinned out and until the half way point when we had turned back into Brighton centre the light sea breeze gave great running conditions. At around 10 miles I caught up with the 4 hr 30 min pacers (they must have been much further near the starting point) and as I ran past them confidence grew.
Half way, weather still good and plenty of people watching at the coast in central Brighton as we headed towards Hove. This section of the run was basically a long run through Hove, turn round and run back to where you started. Great when you are coming back looking at the pained expressions going the other way, tough while going out. My legs were still strong though, which was a new feeling for me at about mile 17. I am normally worn out and wishing I had trained more, or ate the rights things at mile 17. This time I had trained with the club and ate so much pasta last week I must have kept the Italian economy in the black. With the dead flat section in Hove behind me I realised that I had kept to a 9 minute pace for a number of miles as we turned away from Brighton towards the power station on the coast. The sun was now starting to break through the cloud and past 20 miles I felt the first feeling of tired legs. The loop around the power station has a couple of small inclines which by mile 23 was starting to reduce my pace, but just as I Ieft that section I got a big smile and wave from Zoe Ball who was watching with her family (her house is close to the route), so I had my “celebrity watch” ticked off for the day.
The final 3 miles are alongside the beach. You can see the finish beside the big wheel and the last 2 miles were a crawl compared to the previous 24. Pace dropped back to 10 min 30 secs, my fuel tank was empty. My family at mile 25 gave me the lift I needed, the crowds on both sides of the road cheering. The sun was out and the Brighton crowds had not disappointed so the final half a mile was a great feeling as I crossed the line in 4 hours 12 min (chip time).
44 minutes off my previous best. Have to be pleased with that.
Next time – I signed up for 2015 when I collected my number on the previous day. Brighton might not have the size of London but it is well organised, friendly and when the sun shines as you cross the finishing line is there a better feeling in the world?