Race report: Brighton Marathon Sunday 17th April 2016
I have really fond memories of Brighton. It was the backdrop for my first ‘out of London’ date with hubby in our early stages of dating. The location for my hilarious hen do, dressed as gangsters for a two day bender. We’ve visited the pier with our boys over the years – first they braved the Noddy Car ride, progressing to the roller coaster over looking the sea. Plus I’ve spend numerous birthdays day-tripping around the Laines buying jewellery and arty bits and enjoying lunch in a sunny café. So when I entered the Brighton Marathon I was really looking forward to being able to run the 26.2 mile course through one of my favoutire places.
Having done the Virgin London Marathon the previous year, I knew what I had to do in terms of winter training and began planning a diary of events to keep me motivated leading up to the Brighton Marathon. I enjoyed long training runs with the brilliant Gade Valley Harriers, who lay on special Marathon training runs open to anyone for just £5 – complete with jelly baby stops! I also completed the London Winter 10K (PB 54 mins), Watford and Surrey Half Marathons (PB 2:04) in the run up (no pun intended). By April 17th I felt ready to go.
Over the weekend we were staying with relatives right on the marathon route in Hove, which was excellent as my family were able to spot me twice, literally from the drive way. It did mean I was woken up to the thud of portaloo deliveries outside the house at 4am – which didn’t help my already tattered sleep.
The morning was glorious and everything I had expected from a marathon by the sea-side. A clear sun-shiny day with seagulls flying over head. I was dropped off just outside Preston Park, and was thankful for my sports sunglasses as there was already quite a glare.
Bag drop and loos went as well as can be expected – there are always queues at these things, but at least the portaloos were still in good shape and didn’t have my gag reflex working over time. I lined up in the Yellow Corral and was lucky to bump into a friendly face from @ukrunchat (Lee Kemp) – so we chatted and joined in with the warm up karaoke singing along to The Proclaimers ‘500 Miles’. Soon it was time to filter down to the start, with Radio DJ and TV Presenter, DJ Zoe Ball officially starting the race. With a high-5 from Zoe herself, I was off and bobbed along in the throng of runners towards the coast.
I tucked in behind a Shark and Fred Flintstone and was bang on target for my 4.30 marathon time, until about 16 miles. A hot, out and back, section earlier towards Rottingdean – a very quiet section of the course with a couple of inclines – mentally zapped me. However I pressed on and caught up with my family waving banners and running along side me, around mile 17 which gave me a boost; as did some cheery waves from The Queen and Prince Phillip. Okay, not the actual Royals, but some very good look a likes supporting the passing runners.
The atmosphere amongst the runners was great – a nice camaraderie, which was much needed as we headed out towards the power station. A notoriously tough part of the course – known for its fish smell and lack of entertainment. Crowds are sparse here, with just a handful of supporters, so for me it was plug in the iPod and let Calvin Harris, How Deep is your Love? push me on this three mile section.
As we left the fishy hell, I spotted Brighton resident and DJ Fat Boy Slim cheering on the runners. I shouted ‘Fat Boy’ – but was mortified to see a slightly tubby runner in front of me turn around and hoped he didn’t think I was mocking his physique.
The end was in sight! I could see the Pier, smell the sea, hear the crowds roaring on each side and the word ‘Finish’ was getting bigger and bigger. My legs had gone, by brain was willing me on with promises of water, ice cream and a little sit down as rewards. With a final bleep of my chip as it hit the finish line, I had done it. 4hrs 48 minutes and 45 seconds. I was over the moon, as it had been tougher than I had anticipated and I felt proud of my achievement – regardless of my time. The sunshine, the people of Brighton, the frequent jelly babies and smiling marshals made it a superb event – and something I will hold fond memories of forever.
The race in a nutshell: Largely flat course, with a few undulations. Minimal congestion. Well organised, nice medal and technical t-shirt. End of race goodies were pretty good – although could have done with some more water or Lucozade.
Race Tips: Try and get to the Expo Friday or Saturday AM – queues in the afternoon were over 1 hour long. Be prepared for loo queues, but also note there are a couple of loos just before you cross the start, which had only 3/4 people queuing. Gels/energy drink were well timed and plentiful throughout the race, so if you have trialled the brand before it would save you carrying your own. Residents also have LOTS of jelly babies to hand out.
Would I recommend it? 100% yes. Just be prepared for the quieter sections with a decent play list!
To register for Brighton Marathon 2017 click here
If you have done Brighton Marathon, or are planning to do it in future, drop me a comment and tell me what you think.