By Hana Clitherow
What better way there is to finish the running year than to complete the Cornish Marathon? Long pause……..what I actually mean, is that by running this event I will put myself through physical and mental trauma which will hopefully help me through the 2016 season. Does this sound mad? Well in truth it may do, but every time I have faltered in a running event this year I have mentally revisited the 2014 Cornish Marathon and told myself, that if I can get to the end of that race, I can finish any shorter race with ease. It seems to have worked as I have had a PB in nigh on every race I have entered and distance PB’s in 4 mile, 5mile, 10K and Half Marathon. So what will today hold in store? Blood, swearing and tears probably.
The Alarm clock sounds at 6am, as “Husband who plays golf” needs to get up early as he has a team golf match at Carlyon Bay, which involves Bacon butties before the start time of 8am and dinner after. How civilised is that? I on the other hand indulge in a large bowl of porridge with homemade Kea plum Jam on top, scrummy.
On looking outside the road surface is wet, its dark and generally skank. The wind isn’t bad but there is heavy mizzle in the air. I have packed and re packed my kit bag numerous times so I leave the house overloaded. I’ve got waterproof top, water resistant top, IQ reducer (baseball type running cap) two types of bum bag, assorted race food (and I don’t usually eat or drink whilst running) wash kit, towel and a change of shoes plus post race flask of coffee. You should see what I pack when I go on holiday, kitchen sink springs to mind.
Today I have the lovely Helen D for company and she is also acting as chauffer on the trip to the exotic location of Pensilva, just the other side of Liskeard. I will act as navigator in between our girly chatter, and in preparation I have printed off a map, but really we shouldn’t need one as it will be well sign posted once off the A38 at Liskeard.
The journey takes about 40 minutes from Helens home address (an hour from Truro) and passes in no time at all. We’ve spent so much time yapping that poor Helen hasn’t even had time to consume the mug of tea she brought with her in the car. It stayed firmly placed in its cup holder with lid on, which in my health and safety mind is where it should stay. I often see early morning drivers holding onto uncovered china mugs of tea whilst attempting to change gear and negotiate a junction, where upon I have to curb my impulse to step out suddenly into their path so that they have to brake hard and end up spilling their tea over their nether regions. The words “not being in proper control of their vehicle” springs to mind. Oh and that could earn the driver 3 points on their driving licence. Time for me to get off my soap box and get on with what is supposed to be a race report.
As we are fairly early arriving at Pensilva we are able to park at the school which is a very short hop to Millennium House, the race HQ. This will be advantageous after the race when walking could be a problem. A short walk across a children’s playground takes us to the rear entrance of the building and inside it is already buzzing with activity, excitement and nerves.
On entering the main hall, there sat munching on my pre race favourite, “Kendall Mint Cake” is Dave W, so Helen and I dump all our kit on the table with him and go off in search of our race numbers and Goodie bags. At this race you get your race memento prior to running, which makes me ask myself, “Why bother running when I could just go home now with my hoody”. A very YELLOW hoody, the yellow that “Birds Custard” use to be before they took some of the E numbers out. Having said that, it is also “Cornish Yellow”, which is very apt. Maybe the Cornish flag could be incorporated into the design another year? Also in the bag is an apple, packet of crisps, a small bar of Milky Way and a small Mars bar. My Kendal Mint Cake stays in its wrapper and I opt for the goodie bag mars bar instead as my pre-race sugar rush.
Time has come for me to check out the toilets which I locate on the first floor of the building. There are 3 cubicles and no queue on my first visit but later on I join a queue of 4. They are clean; they have toilet roll and best of all we don’t have to use “unisex portable shite tardises”. Having said that, on our drive along the A38 through the Glyn Valley there were two Green “Andy’s Loo’s” placed at the side of the road at 3 mile intervals. I wonder if Issy stopped to use either of them. Perhaps we could adopt something similar at other races, so that there isn’t an almighty initial rush on point of arrival?
We are soon joined by the lovely Isobel, Jeff, Paul, Wendy, Adam to name a few of the gathering TRC runners. Isobel watches as I faff and get flustered over what to wear/carry with me on this race. She spots my large yellow “safe sack” bum bag and frowns, a school teacher sort of frown. I turn into a small child once again, the one stood at the front of the class for talking too much. Issy removes the contents of the bag, she gives it a once over and then tells me to wear or tie around my waist which ever rain top I decide to take with me. To carry any food in my hand, place the hat on my head and gloves in a pocket. I compromise by producing my smaller bum bag, in which I place some dried apricots, Kendal Mint cake and the mini Milky Way bar. I put gloves as directed in a pocket, the cap on my head and wear the “Boil in the bag” rain resistant top. Job done! All that is left for me to do is smear some Vaseline in places that I shan’t name and it’s not my forehead JFD!
The start time is nearing, so we wonder outside to be joined by Luke, Wayne, James, Becky and Dave C. We have a team photo and Luke can be seen holding onto what looks like a fair ground plastic bag with a Gold Fish inside. On closer inspection it is in fact tubes of energy gel which he then proceeds to rip open and squeeze into some water he has in a bottle attached to his waist. He’ll be as high as a kite if he drinks all that……..maybe that’s why he’s so fast?
With Garmin watch loaded I settle myself somewhere in the middle of the starting line up, as there is no point at all in trying to get anywhere near the front. I’ve pulled my “IQ reducer” down hard on my head, I’ve zipped up my “boil in the bag” wind/water resistant jacket and I’m about as ready as I’ll ever be for the off. A pre race briefing takes place, but I can’t hear any of it due to the chatter all around, but finally everyone stops talking and we all join in a minutes silence for the victims of the Paris atrocities.
Before I know it, we’re off for the two laps around the village (about 2 miles). Last year I sped off far too quickly but this year I will take heed of the words of wisdom Jenny Mills offered, of starting nice and steady and maintaining that throughout the race. Thankfully I haven’t got the bit between my teeth today and so there is no need for anyone to have to rein me in, I’m actually quite happy trotting along whilst I watch Helen and many of the other TRC runners disappear off ahead.
The two laps pass with ease and there are lots of supporters cheering us all on. We are directed up the hill along Higher Road, towards Tokenbury Corner. Two young females to my left have climbed up ladders leant against the inside of their boundary wall as if they are trying to escape and are on top of them cheering us all on. The most important thing here is not to stumble over any of the speed bumps and thankfully I reach the top still in breath and incident free. That’s mile 3 ticked off already.
At the junction at the top of this hill where we join the B3254 we are directed left then immediately right onto a country lane with open moorland on each side. The wind is blowing and the mizzle is a pain but my “IQ reducer” is staying put and is doing its job keeping the wet off my glasses. I feel pleasantly warm and not hot in my many layers of clothing (long sleeved compression type top, TRC race vest and “Boil in the bag” jacket) but I shiver as runners dressed only in a race vest pass me by.
The lane bears downhill to a small settlement called Crow’s Nest where they even have a pub then it’s a slight climb to Darite. Ahead of me are a group of Newquay Road Runners, 4 males and one female. I tuck myself in behind them and keep at their pace. They chatter away as if they are out for an easy stroll but they don’t disclose any worthwhile gossip.
Soon we join the busier road at Common Moor which takes us past King Donierts Stone. The traffic here doesn’t want to be held up by us measly runners and one white van squeezes past me a little too close for my liking then stops dead just in front of me. I don’t gesticulate or swear at the driver, I’m feeling far too chilled. It’s as if the running pace I’ve settled into is acting like a form of meditation. I’m lost in a world of my own.
At Redgate we turn right and reach Draynes Bridge which crosses the River Fowey. This is where you can find a car park and toilets for the beautiful woodland walk to Golitha Falls. It is also a great spot for supporters to gather to cheer their loved ones on and hand out the staple energy boosting food of “Jelly Babies” to anyone who cares to take one. Now as far as breaching a “Bassett’s” trade mark, I have to say that as these “jellied Babies of fruited flavour” have been tipped into plastic containers I can’t honestly tell you if they were the real McCoy or shops own. Did you know that should you place a “Jellied baby” in a bath of Vodka they grow in size and become a novelty party food item……..for adults only though!
We have been running now for about 7ish miles and have been graced with a few very nice downhill sections, so at Draynes we are presented with our first real uphill and I decide that as I still feel really quite fresh I will not walk, but gently jog on up. The Newquay quartet on the other hand, are far quicker and they motor on ahead. I don’t think I see them again after this point.
From here on we climb steadily turning right at Wenmouth Cross (mile 9ish) and head towards Colliford Lake, where the route is exposed to the elements. I am joined by a male who appears a little older than myself and tells me he is hard of hearing and comes from the Glastonbury area. We engage in general chitchat which makes the slope of the road disappear. He moves ahead and he is replaced by some more males to my rear. Glastonbury male then stops to take a photo of the scenery on his phone and someone to my rear shouts “PERVERT” fallowed by lots of tittering. “Only a male would say that” I announce and then I spy a large pile of black plastic covered silage rolls in an adjacent field. “Perhaps he has a silage fetish”? I state, and the conversation continues on this theme for a while longer.
Ahead of me is a male wearing The Dartmoor Vale Marathon memento Technical T so I strike up a conversation with him and we trot along together chatting away about that event (I completed the half marathon). He then asked if I had seen a male of about 70 with a grey ponytail, to which I said no. Apparently this male started running marathons when he was 40 and is almost up to 600 now. I know I need to find a new challenge for next year but I will not be trying to match that one.
It isn’t long until we pass the half way point and we are just a tad under two hours. This time last year I was hoping this would count as my 13th Half Marathon but “Husband who plays golf” stated it didn’t. It was also the point where I started to feel shattered but this year I am feeling slightly fresher even if I do utter the words “Are we nearly there yet”?
A marshal warns us that there are cows ahead. The only ones I can see are beautiful Highland beasties with very long pointy horns and they are still all in a field to our left. I seem to have trotted on ahead of the Dartmoor Vale runner I’d been talking to and tagged onto a Tamer Trotter one instead. I’ll end up with a bad reputation if I carry on like this. Anyone would think I was speed dating.
Bolventor and the “Jamaica Inn” seem to take an age to reach, but then suddenly cheers can be heard and we are there. I am running just behind the younger male from Tamer Trotters and he obviously has a family support crew who have outstretched arms bearing culinary gifts. Somehow I find myself gate crashing this party and a lovely man offers a bottle of orange energy drink. I turn into a vulture and half mug this poor man. I’ve been dreaming about “Fanta Orange” for about an hour and my prayers are being answered. I don’t drink it all as usually I don’t drink other than maybe a couple sips of water at the drink stations during a marathon, but today this orange liquid slips down with ease. I hand back the bottle with ¾ of it still intact and suddenly find a bounce in my step. If this is what such a small amount of energy drink does for me, god knows what Luke is feeling like with all those gels diluted in a small amount of water he set off with.
Beth and crew are also mustered at Jamaica Inn and are doing a fantastic job of cheering me and everyone else on their way. Even supporters from other running clubs shout out my name as I pass. Its mile 16 and I feel so much better than I did last year; I’m even smiling and not growling like usual. Has menopausal woman had a rush of euphoria?
We pass the Inn, keeping it on our left and ahead I can see Sharon D from ECH and Sharon S from Mud Crew running together. They say hello as we are directed off to our right where we jog along at a similar speed but with them being ahead of me most of the time.
The next stretch of road has a slight downhill gradient and meanders alongside the Fowey River which is more like a stream than a River at this point. Where the road starts to level out I can see the Tamar Trotters support group once again, with car boot open and more culinary gifts awaiting consumption. As I’m still in close proximity to the Tamar Trotter male I swoop in like a marauding Seagull and grab two wholesome slices of fresh orange, I thank them for their generosity, not that I gave them much chance to say NO and then not wishing to out stay my welcome jog off, catching a slowing Sharon D in the process.
Sharon has a GPS style watch on her wrist and she keeps uttering words of concern as she looks at it. Her heart rate keeps plummeting and she feels dreadful. Sharon S has pulled ahead so I stay with her as a car pulls up alongside and hands a packet of crisps out the window to her. This is Sharon’s lovely daughter who is keeping a watchful eye on her health and welfare. It would appear that Sharon has difficulty keeping her heart rate regular which is the only reason I am able to run at anywhere near her speed. Two years ago she would have been miles ahead. Let’s hope the medics sort her out very soon.
From this point on the two Sharon’s and myself play cat and mouse and try to keep each other motivated, for we have reached mile 20 and I’m just about running. My hips hurt, my knees hurt, the sides of my legs hurt in fact I just hurt from the waist down and putting one foot in front of the other is getting progressively harder. From the waist up I’m fine, I’m full of energy and not short of breath, I simply need a pair of younger fitter legs.
I’m now at the part of the race where you run back over ground you ran out on at the start of this race, the only problem is, is that most of these parts were downhill at the start. So, what went down now goes up and I have had to resort to walking as have the two Sharon’s. I only walk the ups and not the flatter parts in between. The Tamar Trotter male whose food I stole passes and asks if my legs still hurt. Needless to say my answer is “yes”, but I’m moving better than last year. I take a look at my Garmin and Oh my god, if I can keep my legs moving I could be on for a Marathon PB. This gives me a boost of energy and onward I slowly plod.
I have to say mile 24 onwards is a struggle. I have to grit my teeth and somehow the legs keep moving forward. The two Sharon’s have sped up and have entered the final ½ mile back down through the village of Pensilva. I am a minute or two behind them and I wince with discomfort at each downward step but the time on my Garmin spurs me onward. Last year I crossed the line in 4 hrs 37 (with no training) and so this year to achieve a time under this (with very little training) would be good.
The two girls up the ladders are still in place cheering me on but there was no way I can attempt a sprint to the finish. It really doesn’t matter as I don’t think there is anyone chasing me at this point. The last few feet of the race are up a slope where as I cross the finishing line shattered, I stop my Garmin as it registers 4hrs 09. I have smashed last years’ time, plus I’ve achieved a Marathon PB beating my only other Marathon time of 4 hrs 29 by 20 minutes. I’m shocked, tearful and shuffle off to the hall where it’s time to try out the showers.
There are two showers in a long narrow and crowded changing room filled with ladies all suffering the after effects of running 26 miles. Sitting on a chair to remove my shoes is a real challenge and standing is harder still. Cramp wants to take hold of my lower legs but once warm water bathes my body I start to feel almost human once again.
There are no age category prizes for me today, I think I’m about 6th in the “Old Croc” section, but both Wendy and Isobel have done well with Isobel being the second lady to cross the finishing line. TRC Ladies come away with the First placed team prize and although they read my name out as being part of the team of 4, I was actually the 5th TRC Lady so no bottle of wine for me today, that is until Isobel gives me hers.
One lady in the same “Old Croc” category as me, but looks years younger, is celebrating joining the “100 Marathon club”, a club I don’t think I’ll ever be eligible to be a member of. Congratulations Diane R
I decline the free Pasties that are being given out but enjoy two large mugs of complimentary tea and a slab of chocolate cake from a cake stall in the hall. Helen and I spend a while chatting with Jeff and Dave then it’s time to head home. Thank you Helen for driving me home and keeping me amused.
So all in all:
- Parking. Free and plentiful.
- Race HQ. It was well equipped and big enough to hold all the entrants, all our baggage and provided hot drinks before and after the race. There must have been a bar as well as I did see a few males with pints of lager walking about.
- Toilets. Good even if basic with no real queues when I visited.
- Showers. Once again good but basic. The floor in the changing room though was like walking on ice once wet.
- Marshals. Excellent especially when they had been standing out in the mizzle for ages and still had a smile as we past.
- The route. I think the route is lovely even if challenging but the mizzle didn’t really do it any favours other than stop us runners from overheating.
- Race memento. Bright yellow hoodie which fits me a treat. It may not be everyone’s favourite colour, but I quite like it.
- Will I run this race again? Well that’s a difficult one to answer. I’m not going to say no, it will just depend on what challenge I set myself next year. I will say though that this is a 10 out of 10 event and if you haven’t tried it, it really isn’t as bad/hard as some people say so give it a go.
Truro Running Club Results
|20||3:11:20||CUDBY, Dave (PB)|
|21||3:11:50||WYKES, Isobel (SB)(1st in Cat, 2nd Female Overall)|
|27||3:16:50||SARA, Wayne (PB)|
|33||3:18:50||CHAPMAN, Wendy (PB)(2nd in Cat)|
|34||3:19:00||SOPER, Luke (SB)|
|123||3:52:12||DODWELL, Helen (PB)|
|185||4:09:48||CLITHEROW, Hana (PB)|
|344||5:51:53||TREWEEK, Paul (PB)|
Full results: 2015 Cornish Marathon