29 Oct 2016 – Norfolk Coastal Marathon

After its successful debut year which saw John Houghton and Dan Valencia take part, 2016 saw an even greater gaggle of Stilton Striders coming along to give this one a try.

Sadly taken ill Simon Bottrill had to sadly bow out on race morning but we did raise a jar for him after, so we were still 6 strong doing the Full Marathon and two doing the half Marathon.

Thankfully an early night for all was good as we got the coach at 7am to take us to the event start; none of us were taking it as a race really just a good day out and a nice weekend. The Fog was very heavy early on which as I predicted turned into a beautiful sunny day although running into the sun without sunglasses was a sweaty affair.

Heavy traffic and one-man path`s in the early going, one runner actually fell over quite spectacular over a mangleworzle on mile two, It`d be interesting reading his race report! Myself and Michael Atton had drunk a surfeit of the free tea pre-race and were running along dying to stop but the vegetation did seem pretty sparse for stopping. Pretty much we split into two groups, Myself, Michael and Paul Geeson in the front group and Dan Valencia, Katie Hateley and John Houghton in the group behind not that any of us were particularly pushing the pace.

The first 7 miles are a loop before what essentially becomes a pile down the coast along the coastal path, some of which is really nice and long after we take our first few miles on the sand itself. Now for all you who haven’t tried it, it’s fantastic when you run near the sea on the hard stuff but the soft or sinky stuff is a nightmare especially as I found later for me.

We caught up with the tail end of the Half Marathon about mile 14, again if you’re going for a time it’s a bit hard pushing past people in the sand dunes, really a case of wait your opportunities. We find Lou Houghton and Kaye Mead running the half marathon a bit further on, Michael at mile 15 whose `positive split` Marathon plan starting feeling it and was going to drop back actually stayed with us and kept with us until mile 20, some going!

Second lot of beach came and for me probably the nicest bit of the day, really started to feel strong and catch up with Paul who was ahead and went past, next few miles were running nirvana. Unfortunately the path off the beach at mile 22 was that soft sand again and the pace for me along with my endurance started to drop.

Paul pushed on looking strong throughout and even managed a 7:15 in the last mile, the last two miles for myself weren’t my best with a shoelace coming undone then becoming over tight as I ran to the finish. I`d now entered `trundle mode` just happy to get back, lost another couple of minutes at the enforced traffic light crossing, I could see a guy in front in high-viz who just seemed to keep going-would the finish line ever come? It did but it’s one of those where you think your finishing but then come to do a lap of the stadium, its then I hear `Go on Rob`, Katie Hateley behind me coming out of nowhere! Remember how to run again and better up-tempo finish, great performance though from Katie(well worth the following day`s hangover!) with three of us in within four hours.

Great feeling after for us all and lovely enjoyable weekend, happy Birthday John!

The Pros: Enjoyable route, scenic and laid back, nice medal and T-shirt, signposted well, plenty of support on course and friendly marshals

The Cons: Very few unless you count the soft sand!