Race Reports - September 2021

19/09/2021 - The Folkestone Rotary Half Marathon

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Race Report by Martin Cooper

The last week I was in two mind’s whether to run this race or not, having been struggling with a recurrence of shin splints, low on confidence and two weeks out from the London Marathon, I was seriously considering just resting it until marathon day. I decided to go but take it easy and use it as marathon pace training.

We arrived early as the children were running in the children’s race, it was warm, with very little breeze. I knew it was to be a warm one but certainly not as warm as some I have entered this year. First things first, we stood waiting for the children to run, they had a short out and back along the cliff top of maybe 7-800 meters.

My son Aiden quickly hit the front and led the race from start to finish, running superbly to take the win. His little sister Niamh also ran well and came home in 7th place, sprinting to the line impressively to gain two extra places.

I had a short warm up and stretch and made my way to the main race starting area, telling my wife I was aiming for a gentle run and definitely not targeting a fast time.

The race started and we made our way along the clifftop and round the first corner. A quick look at my watch and I realised I was running faster than planned but felt comfortable so continued with it. A couple of miles in and I found myself running well inside my p.b half marathon pace, a little group of three of us had formed and whilst I knew it was quick for me and there was a huge hill to the finish, I decided to see how it panned out and settled into the pace.

The group in front were moving away and the group behind were dropping off. I needed to stay with these two or be in no man’s land on my own. Upon reaching fisherman’s beach we turned and made our way inland, past a boot fair and turned back towards the seafront. At this point the three of us were working well together, each moving to the front in turn and holding the pace at a steady 7.45ish pace.

10 miles in and a quick calculation in my head told me I was heading for a huge p.b. if only I could hang on to this pace, but I knew the hill was coming. The lady in our group was struggling and the gentleman was upping his pace, I didn’t have it in me to go with him so with a bit of encouragement to the lady, we held the pace together to the leas park at which point it was clear she was struggling and I knew I was still on for a p.b. so I moved ahead.

Turning the corner onto remembrance hill, it looked as if it went on forever and half way up I felt light headed and had a slight wobble, time for a short walk to steady myself. Some water over my head and a minute or so later I started jogging again, telling myself, “just make it to the top and I’ll be fine”. The top of the hill came and the look on the stewards face told me must have seen my wobble! I found my legs again and could soon see the finish line ahead. Picking my pace back up to the 7.45 pace from earlier in the race I finished strongly, spotting the clock at 1.43 in the corner of my eye, a 2 minute p.b!

I stopped my watch and for some reason it showed the start-up triangle, please tell me it has saved it. The watch came back on and had registered 1.44.29 still a p.b. but I was sure I was quicker. A few hours later and the official time came through, 1.43.49, a big p.b on a supposed gentle run. Speaking to my fellow runners at the finish they too had both smashed their pre-race targets and p.bs.

Another great event, organised by Nice Work and the Folkestone rotary club. But whoever decided to put that hill on the last mile has obviously got a great sense of humour. It’s safe to say this was certainly not marathon pace practice after all.

12/09/2021 - The Brighton Marathon

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Race Report by Andy Flood

The Brighton Marathon 2021 was a long time coming. Since joining the Coasties in September 2020 it was one of the events that seemed to be constantly on the tip of everyone’s tongue and held in great esteem as a regular calendar event for the club. It was quite a big one for me; my first marathon since 2017, my first marathon as a Coastal Strider and my first marathon in the UK (all my previous distance runs had been in Ireland and Europe strangely enough)! I was entering this on the back of a period of pretty intense training over the last two years and I really felt that I was in a position to hit somewhere around the 3-hour mark, all going well. In hindsight, I was short of the mark and maybe a bit over ambitious with this being my first marathon in a few years!

On Sunday morning I got down to Preston Park nice and early at about 8am, not as early as some eager beavers, the Sayers and Sharpes, who showed up well before that. Conditions seemed good, dry with a very light breeze but the sun was out to make things that little bit harder. I arrived so early that I actually got ushered into the start corral for the 10km by mistake, thinking it was the area for the marathoners and I nearly ended up starting in the wrong race! When I heard people talking around me about hopeful sub 40minute times I quickly came to my senses and hopped the fence back out to await the marathon proper. We did have some competitors in the 10km, John, Kate and Donna who I believe ran excellently!

I met some of the Coasties stretching and preparing in the melee of Preston Park, Daz, Craig, Maggie, Simon. It was good to have a chat, get a photo and shake off the pre-race nerves. I moved down to my start wave to get in the zone and also hit the portaloo last minute! It is hard to fight that feeling of pre-race nerves and anticipation, I concentrated as best I could, going through the course in my head, my gameplan, how I would pace it and get my nutrition on board. If I was going to make 3hrs I needed an average pace of 6.50min/mile or 4.15min/km (I work in km). Ideally, I was going to start out 5 to 10 seconds slower than target pace and try to run a negative split race, saving my energy for the final third…. I say ideally.

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Soon enough my chip was beeping over the start line and we were away. I have to say that the atmosphere from the get-go was an absolute buzz and the support was immense. We made our way around Preston Park, not the most ideal marathon start uphill but the incessant cheering and initial adrenaline made short work of it. Within the first 5 miles, the combination of pent-up energy, hills, adrenaline and crowd cheering meant that I wasn’t regulating my pace correctly. I was running too fast, I just couldn’t get an even pace going as we meandered down around the Lanes and up into Kemptown. At least in the initial stages, there was shade and shelter in the narrower street sections but as soon as we hit Marine Parade and moved East I thought to myself, hmm this is not going to be a straightforward one today. The sun was beating down on my right side and now without the distraction of the turns and loops of the city centre and the more intermittent crowd cheering it became a battle between my mind, my legs and the long, straight road heading out past Brighton Marina and into the distance.

As we got out to Rottingdean and hit the big hill for the turnaround at 9miles (yes THAT now-infamous turning point), I started to feel sluggish and began to doubt my prospects at hitting 3hours. Mentally however it felt good to be heading back towards the city, the support and more water stops! As I came in towards the pier and where I thought the halfway marker would be, the noise was deafening. It was electric being funnelled through the barriers flanked with cheering onlookers and giving the photographers my best ‘blue steel’. My watch registered almost 22km when I got across the halfway checkpoint and I began to worry. I couldn’t work out if my watch had a GPS glitch or if I’d somehow accidentally run too far on one segment. I was also worried that if the distance was wrong, was I going to end up having to run 44km by the end? My mind started to wander and got the better of me as fatigue really started to creep in around the Hove turn off.

It was a refreshing change to be back off the long straights and direct glare of the seafront. If I thought the support in Brighton was good, well Hove ramped it up a notch. There were people outside their doors with orange slices and jellies, people ringing bells and children offering self-proclaimed ‘speed-boosting high fives’! I even got to see the race leader looping back out of Church Road against me as I made my way down. But all the excitement wasn’t enough to reignite me for a second wind, I really started to lag and resorted to walking at a couple of the water stations. I was cursing myself for not better controlling my initial speed but also something in me just didn’t feel right and I knew it wasn’t to be my dream day of hitting sub 3 hours. It was a great lift to see Daz and Craig on the other side of the road as I made my way out of Hove.

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Next up was the final leg, which was at least a mental gain for me to know I was that bit closer to the end, although I had heard plenty of negativity about the Basin Rd segment of the race. At this stage, my legs were beginning to feel like two lumps of lead. I began picking fixed points ahead on the road as checkpoint markers to get to next, chipping away little by little on the final few miles. I saw a boy in a Kerry jersey (an Irish County football team) and I gave him a shock when I shouted to him in Irish, “Ciarraí abú!” meaning “Up Kerry!”.

Rounding the Shoreham Power Station, I started to notice people dropping out with fatigue and injury. The mileage and heat were starting to take their toll on the runners but the spirit and camaraderie were overpowering, with everyone urging each other on and the few spectators who made their way down there being incredibly vocal and supportive. I felt real elation as we moved out and onto the esplanade, knowing that now there were only a few miles (+568metres) between me and the finish line.

I paced alongside another runner and we both realised that we had paced each other at the Lydd 20miler six weeks previously. It was pretty funny and coincidental that here we were again, the two of us, sweating it out in the baking sun! I kept the pace up as best I could for the final stretch, now running at about 8min/mile, 5min/km pace. I was way off the mark for where I wanted to be but just about on target for a PB if I could keep it up, with my previous best being 3hrs20mins.

It was great to hear a Coastie cheer as I came back into the City for the final time, Donna was screaming her lungs out and it gave me just enough of a push to finish with. As my watch hit 42.2km/ 26.2miles I realised I had come inside my PB time with 3hrs19mins. There was only one obvious problem though, the finish line wasn’t in sight yet! Not knowing whether this was my issue or not I trundled on until it was in front of me. I had just about enough energy to give my trademark cartwheel over the line and what a relief it was to reduce my pace to a walk. With my medal around my neck, I crammed as many bananas, apples, bars and Erdingers down me as I could. My partner Aoife was there to greet me and I was glad to see her as we both collapsed onto the beach, happy to be over the line. I checked in on the big screen and the app to see the other Coasties make it home!

Brighton proved to be everything and more than I expected. I feel I have some unfinished business there and now that I have done the course once I have to get back and hit that 3hour target in April! It was great to see and feel a part of so many other club members crossing the line and accomplishing such a great feat. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this club in my short time here and can’t wait to be part of more events like this. I was also humbled to raise £831 in donations for the ‘CALM’ charity fighting suicide in the UK.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/floodandrew

12/09/2021 - The Great North Run

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Race Report by Mark Baker

So I won a ballot place for the Great North Run and as Jen was always going to be running with me she took up a charity place. The drive up there took us 9hrs+ on the Friday so we had a site seeing day on the Saturday.

Sunday Morning up and getting ready and it seemed odd watching the runners start off on the tv when we are supposed to be running but due to covid we had a large staggered start with our allocated time at 13.05.

We got to the start zone and a mass of people everywhere but hey the lines for the toilets were fairly small for a change. After a few photos on the hill we joined the start line and away we go with all the build up around us it was like running through a party.

The crowd were in good voice with lots of encouragement along the way. The course was filled with lots of ups and downs and the weather was slightly chilly.

We saw some amazing people along the way in their costumes and some with disabilities but just pushing themselves to do what they wanted for themselves and their charities.

We had the red arrows fly over and it was just a great experience all round. At the finish line there was a line of soldiers/cadets to cheer us on along with the crowds.

Although the route was changed this year due to covid I didn’t think it took anything away from the occasion but I will be keen to return again to try out the old route. Mark and Jen.

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12/09/2021 - The Wingham 10k

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Race Report by Carol Pettman

This was Dave’s first Race this year due to ongoing foot problems transferring from the Whitstable 10k, but this was my third 10k event for 2021.

The race was due to start at 10:30, we arrived nice and early and managed to park the car under a tree in the shade as it looked like it was going to be hot. The predicted weather forecast was 19 degrees and cloudy, but just before the race started there were no clouds and it was 24 degrees and sunny.

It was a well organised event, with lots of free parking, no queues for race packs and just short of 300 entrants, with on the day registration available.

Spotted two other Coastie shirts worn by John García Rodriguez and Clare Delf, met up with them as the waves were starting to group together.

There appeared to be only four waves with a minute apart.

Dave lined up in wave one along with several Thanet Road Runners who were using this race as one of their club championship races, Dave thought he was in the wrong wave as they are FAST!

When it was time for me to start I kept telling myself this will all be over in an hour, as we left the recreation ground there was a slight downhill followed by what I can only describe as the longest hill I have ever seen (and as some of you know I hate hills) I thought this is too early in the race to have to dig deep. By the time I had reached the top I had drunk most of my water as the heat was relentless.

The course had clear signposting with Marshall’s giving words of encouragement. There were two water stations on route and by the time I reached the second one at the 7km mark I was ready to throw it all over me, only to be faced with another hill.

The last three kilometres seemed to go on forever, when I had reached 6 miles on my Garmin I so wanted to stop, in fact I did, as I felt I had nothing left to give, but the applause and “Go on Carol you are nearly there” somehow kept me going. I have never felt so relieved at crossing a finishing line!

Time: Carol 1:03:31 Dave 54:55

12/09/2021 - The CapTEN Fell Run

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Race Report by Ian Collier

Before I start this race report I feel I need to explain my relationship with Bridport Runners after all I am known as Ian collier - Bridport runners. Bridport runners was the first running club I ever joined, I was working in Bridport in Dorset and stumbled across this club, I paid my fees, joined the club and ran with them most Wednesday nights and some weekends.

I recall the club members being really kind to me and they helped me develop as a runner, I was very much a novice and had only ever ran one race at this stage. I felt a sense of belonging, I looked forwards to my runs with them and become very attached to the club. Sadly I moved on but I continued to pay my subscription and 7 years on I still pay and I’m still a very proud member of this club in Bridport.

I have never ran an event with the Bridport runners and felt the time was right so I entered the capTEN, 10 miles fell race over the Jurassic coast.

The plan was to turn up, put everything I had into running this race and walk away having completed the course under 2 hours. Ha bloody ha, I had forgotten how unforgiving this coastline was and my plan quickly diminished but my enthusiasm didn’t and it took all of my mental strength to complete this race.

I watched as the first Marshall disappeared off up the hill to the first check point, she got smaller and smaller until I could hardly make her out. To my astonishment I was told that I was standing on the start line and the only way was up, I questioned the Marshall, “what no build up? Straight up that hill” I asked, he smiled and told me to pace myself advising me that if I showed this hill no respect then I run the risk of my race being over before it started.

10 miles I kept telling myself, 10 miles, it’s nothing it’s 10 miles. I stumbled up that hill, it levelled and climbed again, I pushed on but I could already feel my legs protesting, up, up and up a bit more, I remember seeing caravans and I recall running through some woods, legs shot, brain numb, my running instincts kicked in. I completed the first 6 miles, checked my watch, 1 hour 4, yes I thought sub 2 is on the cards, back through the start line then onto the golden cap, omg, if I stretched my arms out in front of me I swear I could touch the ground, so steep, I felt giddy, I thought I was going to pass out.

My instinct was to crawl on my hands and knees but my pride prevented me, head spinning, legs trembling I made it to the top, it levelled then climbed again, eventually some down hill, it was a dried up stream full of rocks and gravel a real challenge to stay upright, at the bottom a very short stretch of tarmac, I could hear people being cheered over the finish line, I tried to end strong but I was spent, I stumbled over that finish line to rapacious applause but I really couldn’t give a shit.

I gave that race everything I had, 2 hours 6 minutes of hell, but I did it. I was approached by many Bridport runners thanking me for being such a fabulous ambassador for the club, it was a very humbling experience. I am a Bridport Runner and always will be.

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