#246 - Halstead Marathon Race Report

Marathon #246 - Halstead Marathon done! Nice saunter around the villages of Essex in a sort of dual lap race. Great to spend time with so many familiar faces as was a very good turn out from the "Usual Suspect" who weren't "up North" at Brathay and 100MC and Maidstone Harrier members! Managed a fairly decent 4:30 odd on an undulating course and boosted at mile 25 by hearing the dulcit tones of Roger Biggs gaining on me so a 9:30 26th mile gave me my annual "beat the chairman" marathon! lol Great support on course and may well have eaten my body weight in Jelly Babies!


Halstead was entered some time ago when Jonny Kempster announced it would be his #100 marathon and I'm always keen to support others at their 100th if it fits in with the schedule. Unforunately Jonny had gotten injured in the previous month or two and this was no longer going to be his century race, but being reasonable local (i.e. within 100 miles) and road was still keen to give it a go as it was one I hadn't done before.

We'd arranged to pick up fellow Maidstone Harriers Andrew Burgess and Denise Wright who also have aspirations of earning blue and yellow shirts en route to Halstead and as it was a 10:00 start it was a reasonably late departure. At least only a 5:00 am alarm call rather than some silly o'clock one!

Uneventful until we arrived and then some fun car manoevering trying to get lots of cars down narrow lanes in to the car park. I am suspecting more than one runner parked in a road they shouldn't have, not least as I saw several sitting in their cars! But rocked up and went to collect the numbers chips and was great to see so many familiar faces, had a bit of a chat with Sarah Thorne about GUCR (I guessed we were having similar "taper" strategies! A whole bunch of other brief chats and hellos and it was time to get sorted and be off!

Weather was pretty decent but with rain due at 14:00 or so, not a day to be hanging around too long I thought!


Starting near the back was a bit of a mistake as it was downhill for the first half mile or so and couldn't really get in to my "set off at 2:45 pace and see how long I can hold on" pacing strategy! In fact I didn't want an especially hard day as my left ankle has felt a bit odd/sore/weird since Salf Flats 100 and didn't want to aggravate the healing blisters (although putting on my socks that morning revealed a lump of skin about the size of a 2p coin hanging on by a thread!). On the subject of socks was trialing a new pair of trail max socks. I don't subscribe to the view of "test nothing on race day!" (They were fine by the way. Comprehensive review done!)

After a while though I got in to clear space and was off, and then the first hill arrived, and all those folk I'd sped past caught me up again!

One of the nice things about starting near the back I've found is that you get so see a lot of familiar faces as I go past at them for the first mile or two, and then have a more comprehensive chat when the reel me back in again at some later stage in the race. (I do not advocate my race pace strategy! All I was hoping for really was a decent 10 mile tempo run and then just coast to the finish)

With this methodolgy I got to spend some miles with the likes of Karl Randall, Rosemary Close and Andrew Burgess which was nice as that helps pass the miles... quite a few other conversations too with random people including a couple of girls running their first marathons.

I soon discovered on the course that there was quite decent support for such a small marathon (circa 500), its a sort of figure 8 course with two loops (ish) so spectators can easily see runners four times if they are in the middle bit or twice elsewhere and a number of them were handing out sweets, jelly babies must have been on special offer somewhere as they were most popular! So I availed myself of them at most opportunities! Also the aid stations tended to have some jelly babies too, so began a day of jelly baby over indulgence. I like them... though perhaps not quite to the level I wolfed them down!

The first 7 miles were all done at an average of about 9:10 so that was good as that involved several jelly baby stops, then decided I need to check on the bears which broke up the rhythm somewhat as I needed to stop a second time to sort bits out. Women runners are lucky they don't have these issues! Never quite got going again but still clippling along to 13.1 in about 2:07.

About here Andrew Burgess (now known as Fake John as Rosemary had been mistakenly calling him John...) and Rosemary Close caught me up, Andrew was just beginning to struggle a bit and this gave a handy excuse to walk up a couple of hills, then we lost Andrew and then at the next water station at about 16 lost Rosemary too whilst I messed about quelling my growing jelly baby addiction!

I eased back somewhat for the rest of the way, or put it another way, the hills got steeper, the legs got creakier and my big toes were feeling a bit sore (they've still not really totally recovered from the blistering at Thames Path 100 in March) so generally messed about getting around until about mile 25 when I heard the dulcit tones of Roger Biggs behind me! I'd rather forgotten I was ahead so thought this was my chance to beat him for the whole second time ever (in his defence he was going around with Gina with a run/walk strategy as she's recovering from a hip injury and sure otherwise he'd have been miles ahead!) so a 9:30 mile to the finish (which took me past maybe half a dozen others) and job done in 4:32.

Stood around at the finish waiting for the others to finish and cheering/chatting to whoever was around! One of the benefits of finishing marginally quicker than I used to is that you see more folk before they go home so that was nice! The rain duly arrived about 3:30 which was handy as by then were heading home! A nice marathon and day out in general really!

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