Tuesday, 22 October 2013


Saturday saw four of us (Ian, Richard, Anne and me) get onto the Dunbar Team Bus (Anne’s Punto) and head off for the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. Jamie, the fifth member of the team, was making his own way there.

Weather conditions were decidedly poor, but the spirits were high and Ian had brought along a CD of the Olympic opening ceremony music to “inspire us”.

Pre marathon conversations are always pretty strange, “guarded” affairs – everybody has a time they want to get, but most people play their cards pretty close to their chest – just in case. I honestly didn’t know what to make of my chances. My last marathon had been about 19 months ago. The longest period I’ve had between marathons. However, I was going to try and improve on that time and, at the very least, wanted a sub 3.

My mind was firmly fixed on my big toe after injuring it at Livingston. A quick, completely informal consultation with Doctor Neil the Thursday before had suggested what I think I already knew – I might be harbouring a bit of a fracture. It’s not sore all the time – but if I move it or bend it certain ways then …yes it is! I’d done a couple of six milers during the week… but there’s a big difference between that and a full marathon (obviously).

Anyway. We dropped Ian off at his mum and dad’s and popped in for coffee then headed off again to drop Richard off at his sister’s.

We then checked into our B&B and had a short stroll round York then went out for a very sedate two mile run (to loosen off really).

Saturday night was taken up with a visit to an Italian restaurant for some carbo loading – then early to bed.

So. What of race day? Well. It was an early start. Up at the crack of dawn for a breakfast of croissant’s and cereal before the short walk from our B&B to York Railway Station to get the shuttle bus that would take us to the start at York Uni’.

Using the university campus as a start and end for the marathon was a fantastic choice. It’s spread over quite a large area and the building that was being used for the baggage storage area was massive – there’s not many marathons you do where there is ample indoor space for waiting and meeting.

We met up with Ian and Richard and, once we had dropped of bags and made our trips to the loo, headed off to the start area.

Luckily, we met up with Jamie at the start.

I was in start zone 1 with Ian and Richard and Anne and Jamie were just behind us in Zone 2.

A few words from some bloke off Emmerdale, a few words from Cricketing-Umpire-Legend Dickie Bird…and we were off.

Straight out of the uni’ campus and before you know it you are going through one of the “Bars” in the city walls (gates) and you are into York proper – a quick run along one of the main streets, a quick run past the Minster ….and you’re back out of York and into the suburbs, before heading into small country lanes.

For the first part of the race, I just tried to settle into a pace I was happy with and didn’t even think about the toe.

The support along the route was great. Everyone seemed to be very enthusiastic about the whole thing (maybe they don’t get much in the line of entertainment in Yorkshire). The organisers had printed runners forenames on their numbers so I appeared to get equal numbers of shouts of “go on Stuart” and “well done Dunbar”.

Sad to say though I did find myself subject to a bit of racism as we went through one small village. Obviously someone recognised the name “Dunbar” and I was accosted with a shout of “Go on there Jock”!!

Got to half way and felt good… dreams of a PB were starting to linger in my mind.

But – me being me, I’d overcooked it in the first half and by about 22 miles I was starting to slow. It turned into a bit of a battle just to try to minimise the losses. It was at about 22 that I remembered I had a couple of Percy Pig sweets with me and had one of them – that seemed to help a bit.  By 23/24 my toe was beginning to hurt…but I honestly couldn’t say if that was pain from the injury OR the fact that my foot was starting to swell slightly (as you expect doing a mara’) and I’d tied my laces a bit tighter that I would normally do.

It didn’t help that at 25.5 miles there was a particularly nasty “sting in the tail” and we were brought into the campus up a horrible steep little climb (though the last 400m was a nice downhill).

Really pleased to get 2:56:30 (chip time). Later on I was surprised and delighted to find out I was 39th overall and 4th V45-55 (been more delighted to have been 3rd mind).

This was one of the best organised marathons I have ever done. I can't recommend it highly enough. The route and the scenery were great. Just the right amount of water stations etc (every 3 miles – I didn’t use them all), great crowds, friendly marshals. The route is very slightly undulating - even if the wee hill at 25.5 was cruel. God, even the weather was beautiful for the race. Saturday had been grim and Monday was grim – but the day of the race? Against everything the weatherman warned us about it was beautiful! The sun shone for most of it and it was mild(ish).

The only disappointment for me? Well. I’d wanted the bloke from the Plusnet adverts to start the race! But apparently, I was told, he is touring in Saudi Arabia at the moment. Ah well. Still got a picture of me next to a cardboard cut-out.

Ian, Anne and Jamie all had good runs. The stand out marathon though came from  Richard who proved to have proper “tough of the track” potential by not only surviving severe cramp but falling into a ditch – and still finishing! He came back into the baggage area covered in mud and looking more like he'd done a cross country than a marathon.

No complaints at all about the race – but one tiny observation and, sadly another instance of [institutional] racism....
The results. Only English running clubs are listed – so while we all appear on the results our club isn’t listed. No big deal, but I don’t know if this will affect our Power of Ten entries.

Anyway. Once we all regrouped we got back onto the shuttle bus to get back into town, before heading off at a hobble for a few drinks and a bit of a chat about our race (even those without tickets!).

Later on, on Sunday me and Anne met up with Ian for a curry.

Yesterday dawned wet and gloomy and it saw us (i.e. me and Anne) out for a gentle 3.5 mile recovery run around town before breakfast. Really enjoyed going through the streets and along by the river before it gets busy.
A visit to see Anne's mam and brother

No trip to York would be complete without a trip to Rebound Records (obviously) and a few choice discs were bought.