York marathon – Catherine's race report:
I stayed in York the night before the marathon with a friend who was also running. Thankfully we did a dummy run (excuse the pun) to get to the start of the race which was just as well as we got a bit lost and it took us over an hour to find it and less than 20 minutes to find our way back!
On the morning of the race I had the usual questions going round my head of why did this seem to be a good idea when I entered? Have I done enough training? What to wear as the forecast was not great for the day.
The start and finish of the race was at York University which proved to be an excellent venue with lots of space, lots of indoor areas to keep warm and plenty of toilets! The bag drop area was well organised at the start and end.
The route was excellent, the first mile took you down into the city and past York Minster and then out through the more rural areas of York. There were 2 parts of the route where you doubled back on yourself. I found the second time this happened a bit tough mentally as you passed the 19 mile marker on the other side of the road before reaching the 17 mile marker.
Thankfully the weather forecasters were wrong and the predicted wind and rain held off. I had initially hoped for a time of 3hours 40 but thought with the training I had done that 3 hour 45 might be a more realistic time however, after 14 miles I realised that I was still doing an 8 minute mile and began thinking that nearer 3hrs 30 might be achievable. This helped me keep focusing on the next mile rather than the remaining 12 miles that were ahead. I managed to keep this up until 22 – 23 miles when my legs started to slow. There was a bit of a hill up to the 26 mile marker which was hard going but thankfully a good downhill after this with the finish clearly in sight. I was thrilled with my time of 3 hours 32, a PB by 24 minutes.
Overall the York marathon was excellent and very well organised. There was plenty of spectator support all round the course which I hadn’t expected. The atmosphere around the Minster was fantastic. There were drink stations every 3 miles with sport drinks at every other drink station and gels at a couple. There were plenty of marshals who were very cheerful and supportive. I would definitely recommend this as a marathon to do. Will I do it again? I am very tempted, who knows sub 3 ½ hours.
Amsterdam marathon, 20th October – Martin's report:
This was obviously going to be flat (a pre-requisite for myself, naturally), and in this regard, it did not disappoint. Weather was good, and the forecast rain did not materialise, so no excuses there. Part of the race was through the city, and quite a long section down the canal side and back. However, the water/sports drink stations at 5km intervals provided only ¼ to ½ cups full which is hardly adequate for a race of this distance. I found myself having to stop, and take two or three, just to get enough liquid. There was no “goody bag”, and the T shirt had to be paid for (€25, I think). After the race, a segment of orange, half a banana and a small recovery drink. Support around the course was rather sparse in places, but very welcome. Having runners’ names on the race numbers was helpful too. I didn’t see Jonathan Skidmore, but he finished a few seconds in front of me in an impressive time of 3hrs 09mins, and I crawled over the line in 3hrs 41mins, rather disappointing when I was looking for a sub 3hrs 30mins PB. This is looking less and less likely unfortunately, not that I’m ever negative in any way. For me, the city was rather uninteresting, and the canal trip even less so. Perhaps a rather jaundiced view, as I wasn’t in the best of moods, but there you go. I wouldn’t do it again.