Friday, 21 July 2017

Giants Head marathon - the hills are alive...

Giants Head elevation - not a PB course

The Giants Head marathon is trail run around the Dorchester countryside, mostly hills, and takes in the Carne Abbas Giant.  It was voted the best Marathon in the UK by Runnersworld Magazine in 2014 and renowned for being tough.

I arrived at 7.30 on 24th June for the 8.30 start, parked up and headed towards the start area.  The weather was overcast, 17 degrees and there was relatively no wind - a nice day to be out in the countryside.  I booked in and prepared myself for the race meeting and chatting with some familiar faces including Dave Warren, who I knew would be in the top 20 runners, Phil Blyth and Damien Gutteridge who I had both worked with.

Is it switched on?   (with Damien & Phil)
We ambled round to the start line for the brief and at 8.35 we were off and running.  Within half a mile we hit the first hill, well more of a vertical climb, that continued for another half mile.  This early hill had already started to stretch out the runners and the following 2 miles of descent stretched out the field further.  The descent was abruptly halted with a sharp climb and then three and a half miles of accent.  We had completed the southern loop and now headed north for the second, larger loop, passing the Cerne Abbas Giant on the route.

By the half marathon point I still felt very strong, I kept up the regular fuelling and didn't hang about in the aid stations.  Having finally got away from some of the runners I had been playing leapfrog with over the past 13 miles I was more relaxed, enjoying the feeling of not being exhausted by the constant hills.

The middle miles were filled rolling hills and beautiful countryside and I relaxed even more, not thinking about the miles or the time taken.  Just running for the love of running.

Walk in the park
At 20 miles I visited the now famous "Love Station" for fruit and a tipple before heading off again down the hill towards the last big climb of the race and at 23 miles the course evened out and I started to pick up the pace, not feeling tired or weary.  In the last 3 miles I easily passed 25 other runners and seeing a sign at the 25.5-mile point I started to open up even more, leaving runners in my wake in the last few hundred meters descent into the finish at Sydling.  I was even able to sprint finish!!

Ooohh - Ice Cream

The months of ultra running was paying off, I could run a hilly marathon, as a training run, and still have the energy to race the last 3 miles.

As usual, the medal and t-shirt were outstanding and although there was a free ice cream on offer the queue was longer than I could be bothered to wait.  I swapped tops, ate and drunk and headed back to the car park.

Would I do it again?  Yea, it's a great race.

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