This is a retrospective post of my first ever marathon. I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about it sooner, but better late than never I guess. Besides, given the nature of the event, I don’t think it was one I was going to forget in a hurry anyway.
I will start this post with a little bitter honesty – I have signed up to the Brighton marathon three times in the past, and this year was the year that I finally took the plunge and dedicated myself to running it.
Being my first marathon ever (and yes I do see more to come!) it was going to be pretty important that the whole event was pretty plain sailing and as straightforward as possible to ensure a life filled with marathons ahead of me too. I didn’t want this to be a one-off, and Brighton, my beautiful eccentric hometown, you did NOT disappoint.
The Build Up
I think that the Brighton Marathon team kept all runners pretty well informed right up until the day. I know that some people have a huge issue with having to collect the race packs from Brighton itself (as opposed to being sent in the post), however, where they organised for this to be in the days leading up to the event, I don’t see this as being a big deal.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to go to the Expo myself, but what I heard from my mum (who also ran Brighton this year and collected on both our behalves!), it was great. Apparently they were offering bread with extra protein!? I almost wish I had booked the day off to go there myself. I think it depends what time you arrived at the Expo as to your experience however, because I have definitely heard some horror stories about queuing for hours on end just to pick up the envelope – this certainly isn’t an ideal situation to be spending so much time on your feet in the days prior to a marathon.
One bug-bear that me and my mum struggled with was the bag-drop bags…. TINY! And flimsy. I only had a T Shirt and pair of fresh leggings in my bag and this still had to be patched together with masking tape because the side split open. This is definitely something that needs to be improved for future events.
Well, upon arriving at Preston Park I can safely say that I have NEVER in my 11 childhood years of frequenting the park seen it that boggy. I think a combination of using the same start line the day before (for the 10k), and rain, had just turned the penned areas into a massive mud bath. I noticed a few people walking around with carrier bags over their trainers so as not to water log them. Now, I could understand if I was doing Tough Mudder… but this was a pretty poor start to 26.2 miles. Perhaps Brighton need to consider different starting points for future event weekends, or at least a road-start perhaps.
One more niggly issue with the start – severe lack of toilets. I was totally unlucky with timings of #girlproblems and the 45 minute queue to have the pleasure of a portaloo wasn’t really on.
Because I am fortunate enough to have hugely inspiring parents, it didn’t take me long to find my dad in the park as well (the unlucky sod who had to run the whole thing with me). Myself and my dad are of a much more similar pace, whereas my mum managed to boss the whole thing in under 4 hours (slower than usual for her, the crazy lady).
We made our way to the start line by which point the butterflies were going CRAZY. I kept busying myself by taking my dad’s paracetamol and selecting a playlist just to give myself something to do asides from preventing myself sinking into mud.
The course itself was great – primarily due to the fact that it is basically all flat. There is a slight undulation on route to Ovingdean, but I wouldn’t go as far to say that it was a hill. From miles 19-23 there is of course the highly uninteresting power station leg, and I think that a combination of distance and lack of support on this stretch really starts getting to the runners (myself included!). However, in a weird way, this only adds to the mental challenge that running a marathon really is, and it does push everyone to keep on top of their game to a certain extent.
The support from everyone – spectators, marshals, volunteers, and children dishing out high fives from start to finish are what really makes Brighton marathon so special. The final 2 mile stretch was simply electric with music and cheers… it isn’t something I am going to forget any time soon.
Upon finishing I was lucky enough to have a friend grant me with the well deserved medal and a familiar hug – a truly special, emotional moment. Perhaps the biggest achievement of the day was holding back the tears until I was home!
Apart from the gruelling training involved, I would not hesitate for a moment before signing up to another Brighton Marathon. Despite difficulties at the start line, and complaints from people about paper cups (man up, they’re cheaper than bottles!) I think it is a genuinely well organised route with spectacular support and atmosphere. I get a shiver when I think about that finishing feeling – a real running triumph for someone like me who never thought I would get there.