Sunday, 24 June 2018

A marathon with bells on.

 In the days leading up to this weekend Husbando said that he would run with me.  'Oh great!' I thought.  'Just what I need, 10 miles of him nagging me to go faster and to quit whinging, followed by me having a hissy fit and telling him to sod off and finish the bloody race on his own.'  In the interests of matrimonial harmony I decided to give running a race together another go.  What could possibly go wrong?

We arrived, with friends, on Friday evening and after checking in to The Greyhound Inn we toddled off to the village hall to tuck into lasagne provided by the local WI which we washed down with a pint of ale before returning to the pub to sample a local gin (  Pre race hydration completed we went to bed.  We had an early start the next morning, but for once we weren't leaving the house at daft o'clock to drive to a race.

The race started at 8.30am after a short race briefing.  Straight out through the village and then up the first of many, many hills.  It was warm already but we were happily plodding along, walking the steep bits and chatting with a few people we knew.  The ground underfoot was treacherous: baked solid and  very rutted.  We saw a couple of people take a tumble in the first couple of miles - but nothing serious.  Just past the second aid station we heard someone fall behind us and turned around.  A lady had fallen on the chalky, flinty path and even from the distance of about 50' we could see that it wasn't good.  We ran back as there was no one else near her, I took my phone out of my pocket as I ran towards her ready to call race HQ if necessary.  The poor thing had split her eyebrow (breaking her glasses in the process) and had impressive bruising on her cheekbone, and grazes to her hands and knees.  Husbando ran back to the aid station, a first aid kit appeared and we stayed with her and her friend (who had caught her up) until the ambulance arrived.  I don't know if she carried on or not - I hope she is ok!

A couple of miles later, and after a minor detour resulting in climbing over a barbed wire fence, I realised that my phone was missing.  I couldn't think where it could be.  We stopped for a while and had a think.  The 'find my friend' app didn't work as my phone appeared to be in an area with no reception.  I then remembered running towards the fallen lady with it in my hand so assumed that I had put it down and not picked it up again.  I knew we'd be going back past that point and I knew that if anyone saw it they would hand it in, but decided to mention it when Andy drove by in his truck and slowed down to ask about the slight detour we'd taken.

As for the running, it was going well.  We were taking it easy and stopping to take photos.  The heat meant that it was not going to be a fast marathon for anyone, but as tanning opportunities go it was great!  At some point, before half way, we took another wrong turn - the dangers of assuming the person in front knows where they are going.  We probably only went about three quarters of a mile along the track before people started heading back down saying that we were going the wrong way.  There followed a rapid retreat and a scramble down a very steep slope to rejoin the rest of the runners on the correct route.

Soon after halfway, Husbando began to tire.  He is a better runner than me, but due to injury his training regime has been even more lacking than mine this year.  This combined with the heat made it really tough.  We were briefly distracted around this time by dealing with another person who had fallen over.  It was a short downhill section and we watched him land heavily.  Husband, me and another runner helped him up, chatted with him, asked him if he was OK, washed the grit out of his hands with my water.  He assured us he was good, and because we could see other runners approaching, didn't think too much of it when he said that we should go on.   We found out later that he had broken both wrists, cracked two ribs and damaged his eye socket... but he managed to complete the marathon!

Husbando was struggling.  We were walking more than we were running and stopping frequently.  I soon realised we had passed the point where I could run on and leave him to struggle on alone because I was worried about leaving him.  He was really struggling with the heat and various bits of him were hurting to lesser and greater extents.  Our pace dropped off considerably.  All we could do was hope to get around. I don't tend to run marathons with a lot of snacks and gels with me because I find I don't need them, especially at a White Star event as the aid stations are so well stocked.  Husbando became convinced that he needed salt - I am grateful to all the kind runners who shared salt tabs and gels with him.

At the final aid station I thought that the wheels had finally come off the bus and that there was a chance he wouldn't finish.  He sat in the shade, drank a lot of water, ate some salty snacks and eventually we set off again.  We'd run with James and Ruth at a couple of points during the race, and encountered them again at the aid station, they had the misfortune to leave the station just after us and therefore were able to witness Husbando throw up copiously!  Rather than take a wide berth and run on in disgust they stayed with us to check that he was ok. Ruth and I went up the final hill pulling him behind us.  After that it was down hill all the way - but we still took it slowly, breaking into a jog only where we could see the finish line.  I think I realised how rough he looked when, as we ran hand in hand to the finish line, people were shouting 'Well done that man!' It was as though I wasn't there!  As we crossed the line he started to wobble, so we steered him in the direction of the St John's Ambulance for a sit in the shade and rehydration salts before I went off to collect medals, buffs and t-shirts.

A quiet afternoon followed - back to the room for a shower then Husbando went to bed for a couple of hours, I went back to the village hall for a pint of beer with friends before we all met up for supper and a very early night.

I slept well, and woke up ready for a the '9k fun run.'  This had a Le Mans start (i.e first find your shoes) and a compulsory warm up.  The race follows much of the route of the Sydling Hill Race (10k -ish) with a short cut.  Forfeits must be performed at the aid station in order to collect your cowbell medal and running the last mile into the village and the finish line.  This was a lovely race and would have been even better if I hadn't done the marathon the day before!  As we ran down into the village with our bells, those taking part in the 5k fun run were coming up it - which made for some near misses as my very tired legs couldn't cope with running down hill and rapid changes of direction!

Once safely down the hill we all met up for tea and cakes (the local WI strikes again!) before packing up and going home.  Despite feeling awful, I think Husbando is glad he did it.  He certainly appreciates why my times at Giants Head are far slower than my road marathon time (3,166ft of elevation will slow you down a bit!) and is very pleased with his spinning willy medal.  He's only signing up for the 10k next year though!

Thanks to Andy and all the WSR team - and well done on your 100th race.  The marshals were excellent, the aid stations coped brilliantly with all the demanding runners.  I am looking forward to next year... I think.... we've booked our accommodation, so now we have to come!

This is what we think of hills!


  1. Wow, goodness, well done you for looking after the other runners and amazing that guy completed with all those injuries - I fell today and (hope I) only have grazes and I just gave up and walked to a bus!

  2. For all the hills, tumbles, bruises and vomit, the GHM is strangely all the more alluring...must be the me toon of gin, Ale, medals and camaraderie! Well done all. TG