I surprised myself on this one. I was expecting more from this marathon. More runners, more crowds, more miles, more atmosphere, more everything! What I got was very nice.
Even though there were at least 9,000 runners taking part and their families in tow I was not overwhelmed by the sheer number of people around. The commentator for the start kept everyone informed and he was making sure everyone knew where they should be and at what time and what was going to happen next. It was 20 minutes to go before the start and I was getting nervous!! I had left my water in the car along with my hairband and my waist pack was deciding it didn’t want to zip up at all. Thank goodness I’d been spotted by Karen and David before the start. Karen suggested using the safety pins to keep my pack closed. Genius!! As for the water, well it’s not like there isn’t any around on the course and my hair? I used the hole in my cap and had a loose ponytail instead. Sorted. What felt like seconds later the marathon started for the elite runners. Seeing them run past the start was electrifying and those of us who hadn’t started yet were cheering them on. A good 15 minutes after the elite runners started the last of the runners went through the start line, some even getting to high five Paula Radcliffe. Cool.
The first hill was in the first mile which got me warmed up nicely, then in and out through Brighton town, the streets lined with cheering crowds. Lots of charities advertising their causes and lots of runners running for them. It was amazing to see so many people lining the course around the town centre. After all of that it was a bit of a culture shock to then be taken out of Brighton along the coast and being able to see all the runners ahead and also all the runners running back along the same road. SO MANY RUNNERS!!!! It was amazing see all those people, different shapes, sizes, capabilities. Amazing!! After running through the closed in streets this open road was a nice breather. No cheering crowds, just all of us runners pounding to the beat of the marathon.
Coming back through Brighton was exhilarating again, winding us through residential streets. Residents playing music and kids handing out bowl after bowl of jelly beans and jelly babies.
Then we head out to the dock, another long road along the coast with the occasional cheer from groups of people lining the route. Once we get to the end of the docks we head back towards Brighton Pier along the seafront. By this time I was walking more than running but I was still enjoying myself thoroughly. Every now and again a crowd of people would get a bunch of us walkers to get back to running. When we did we got loud cheers which kept quite a few of us going. The pier was getting closer with every step and runners beside me were starting to struggle with the mileage. I was tired, I could push myself to run faster but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to ruin myself before London next weekend. That’s my excuse anyway. As we all got closer to the finish the crowds got bigger, the cheering got louder and it was difficult to stop and walk now. Pulled along by the sheer roar of cheers I kept myself going to the finish. 5 hours 29 minutes 54 seconds. I honestly thought I was closer to 6 hours because I eased off the speed after mile 14.
The finish was just as well organised as the start. Only when I got past the baggage trucks and then out onto the seafront to head back to the car did the sheer number of people in Brighton hit me. I had wanted to meet up with David and Karen afterwards but everywhere was drowning in people. So, instead of worrying I got myself a cuppa and a pork roll and got myself back to the car park.
This marathon did take up my whole weekend and even though I didn’t stay in Brighton I did have to come down on the Saturday beforehand to pick up the number and chip for marathon day. With the marathon being sponsored by Visit Brighton I’m sure a lot of business was made over that weekend. Parking on the day was a complete nightmare even though I had paid for parking in advance. Road closures made getting to the car park a complete nightmare. Thankfully I’d given myself more than enough time but the stress of getting there did make me leave a couple things in the car. This is an expensive marathon – the payment to enter, the requirement to pick up your number the day before and staying or parking in Brighton all adds up. Having said that I did have a fabulous time and I thoroughly enjoyed the drums, the music, the cheering crowds, the organisation, the views, the gentle hills and the sheer friendliness of Brighton. Thank you.
Roll on next weekend when I get to run the London Marathon.
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