Spring marathons and other races

Farnham Runners press release - 19/04/19

Spring marathons

A number of Farnham Runners have been taking part in the first of the spring marathons, far and wide. They have written of their experiences.

Boston Marathon

Linda Tyler travelled the furthest, to Boston one of the six “world marathons majors”. She has now completed five of the six that lead to a Six Star Finisher Medal. She writes:

Linda Tyler
Linda Tyler just after finishing the Boston marathon

“On Monday 15th April I took part in the 123rd Boston Marathon, the fifth of the World Major Marathons I'm hoping to complete before I'm 60 next year!

It was pouring with rain as I walked to the long line of buses waiting to take the 30,000 athletes to the start of the race in Hopkinton, 26 miles away. I felt nervous but very privileged to be taking part in such an historic race.

The rain had stopped by the time of the blue wave start at 10.50. Conditions were warm and humid. The course was downhill overall but undulating, with the worst of the hills, Heartbreak Hill so aptly named, at 21 miles. As we ran through typical New England towns and countryside we were encouraged by enthusiastic support all along the way.

Weather conditions became hot and sunny. Too hot. Water hoses were put in place to cool us down and some enterprising residents used their garden hoses to give much needed relief. The combination of hills and heat was a real challenge. Never have I been so pleased to see the end of a marathon as I was in Boston and crossing the finish line in 3:47:26 was a huge relief.”

Manchester Marathon

Nicola O’Connor ran her first marathon in Manchester on April 7th raising over £1000 for two charities: First Touch at St George's Hospital and Autistica. She writes:

Nicola O'Connor
Nicola O'Connor after the Manchester marathon

“My chip time was 5:42, slower than I'd hoped but that didn't detract from a huge sense of pride in finishing. I felt good for 21 miles but suffered over the last 5 and had to walk some stretches with a very painful right foot. It was definitely mind over matter in those last few miles to convince myself I could carry on! Crossing the finish line was the best feeling ever and I'm so grateful to the support on the way round and during my preparation, especially from my wonderful fellow Farnham Runners.”

Paris Marathon

Richard Denby: finished the Paris marathon 3:41:47. He reports:

"I did a half marathon when I was at university over thirty years ago, and it hurt. In recent years I ran three half marathons, and they hurt. So despite being a regular runner, I resisted the nagging question of running a full marathon as at the end of each of the halves I was spent. However, I recently stopped working and decided this was the time to crack a full. So I signed up for Paris six months ahead. I found a training program, joined Farnham Runners and invested the hours. I knew to expect the weekly long runs, but the relentlessness of the other four runs in the week was a grind. I adapted the program to dovetail it with the Farnham Runners club runs and speed work/hill training, which contributed expertise, chats, motivation, variety and running buddies. I reached the start line having substantially followed the program injury free, and with terribly little idea how it would go. I had only really set myself a target of running a sub four hours. The first few miles were considerably faster than four hours pace, but it felt right, so I decided to trust what my body was saying and in the fact that I had done the training, so I stuck with it. At about fifteen miles my body told me it knew it had run fifteen miles, but it was still ok. I ran the second half in two minutes more than the first. I was ecstatic. At the end I had a surge of emotion and a little tear for the coming together of seventeen weeks of training.”

Also in Paris was Stephen Tarrant:

“My primary target was to firstly enjoy the Paris Marathon, but secondly to beat my PB from New York of 3hrs 57mins. All was looking good at Christmas, but I then lost a month to injury and was ill twice losing another two weeks training, meaning I only ran 230 miles between Jan 1st and the Paris marathon. So I set a plan to run between 8min 40sec/45secs and built all my training around preparing for the last 8 miles and not slowing down. The race pretty much went to plan with a new PB by six mins of 3hrs 51mins and most of all I had the most enjoyable weekend in one stunning city. I managed to raise £400 for Shelter as well!"

Brighton Marathon

Billy McCulloch ran the Brighton Marathon:

Billy McCulloch before the start of the Brighton marathon
Billy McCulloch before the start of the Brighton marathon

"Since completing my first marathon in 2017 at London, I had always wanted to do another and see if I could beat my original time. Early 2019, I found myself running alongside many Farnham runner club members who were training for a spring marathon, and so when a Brighton marathon place became available through the club I jumped at the chance.

I was soon following a sub 4 hour training plan and was delighted to set a new personal best at the Fleet half marathon of 1:39. I found running the really long distances is easier with company so the 18 mile mid-week run to Farnborough and back I did on my own was tough.

The actual race day conditions were perfect, though there are some hills and it was windy along the seafront. The crowd were fabulous. My husband Stuart and children - Jodie and Euan were enthusiastic supporters, and it all came together. When I reached 22 miles in 3 hours I felt confident I could finish in under 4 hours. All that said, the last 3 were really hard and about 2 mins slower than my average but once the finish line is in sight and it’s amazing how you find renewed energy for those last 200m!! I was so happy to record 3:45:01, a PB by 23 minutes and 9th in my age category! Thanks to all the running club members who helped me to achieve this, especially Linda Tyler who kept me company on that last long run!”

Also at Brighton was Keith Toms who ran his first marathon in aid of Prostate Cancer UK:

Keith Toms and his brother
Keith Toms (left) with his brother with their Brighton marathon medals

“This time last year my brother and myself made the decision to run the Brighton marathon for Prostate Cancer UK after our dad had passed away on the 21.04.2018. I was given a lot of good advice from fellow club members on training, which was a great help to me, along with all the support. After 12 months of training and a few niggles on the way race day arrived stood on the start line feeling slightly nervous about the challenge ahead. I finished the marathon in 4.41.43 seconds 7 minutes before my younger brother. Between us we raised just over a £1000.”

Mikey Taylor has completed all 10 Brighton Marathon since it started in 2010:

“There are 102 people left in the 10/10 club. The Brighton Marathon weekend has got bigger and bigger over the years and it is so well organised and the support is amazing. My time this year was 3:42:11 but my best time over the years remains at 3 hours 22 minutes which I did in 2014. My goal is to break 3 hours 15 minutes. I will keep trying and one day will hopefully achieve it…”

Seville Marathon

Stephen Elliott-Nicholls ran the Seville marathon in mid-February. He writes:

“A great city and super choice for an early spring marathon. It advertises itself as the flattest marathon in Europe and didn’t disappoint! Perfect weather, starting at 08.30 and 10C, well organised and supported, and big open roads, culminating in the last 8k ticking off some of the big tourist sites in the city. I had been targeting the race since Abingdon four months earlier, training around 100k a week, and hoping to get around 2.55 or 56. In the end, managed to push through for 2.54.14 and a big PB by more than 4 and 1/2 minutes. So absolutely delighted with that. Now easing back a bit and enjoying some time with our new baby who arrived one month after the race!”

Other races

Worthing 50 mile trail race

Not content with the 26.2 mile distance, James Warren came 18th in 7:41 SDW 50, a Centurion Running organised 50 mile trail race from Worthing, up to the South Downs Way and along it all the way to Eastbourne. It includes a total of 6000ft of elevation.

“I ran multiple loops of ROAM at the Devil’s Punchbowl in training which appears to be jolly effective for making your legs stronger. (ROAM639 is a roughly 10k trail round the Devils Punchbowl (6.39 miles to be exact) which has 1000ft of elevation in it.) There were about 350 starters this year and although the weather was lovely and bright there was a nagging headwind the whole way.”

Combe Gibbet 16 miler

Three Farnham Runners enjoyed the recent Combe Gibbet, a challenging cross country 16 miler through the beautiful Berkshire and Hampshire countryside from Combe Gibbet to Overton. Charlie Hill-Venning clocked 1:57:00, John Phillips 2:02:06 and John Hill-Venning 2:10:45.


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