#266 - Bacchus Marathon Race Report

#266 Bacchus Marathon done! Good event, only spoilt by a couple of good drenchings! Quite a hilly one but nothing too serious and some real nice long downhill drags, especially the last couple of miles which is nice! I did 4:37 which I was actually quite pleased with for a low effort day jaunt around, I remember not that long ago this sort of trail one taking an hour longer! Always good to see so many familiar faces and even to run a little while with such speed merchants as Mark Johnson and be suffering from a near death experience trying to keep up! Good day out, and whilst I wouldn't say I actually enjoyed the run, it was one of those rare days when I thought the actual running wasn't too bad! lol


The Bacchus Marathon (so named after the Roman God of wine (thank you Andrew Burgess!)) models itself on the famous Medoc Marathon in France, basically running around and drinking lots of wine! Fancy dress optional but very much encouraged! I'd heard only good things about this one and despite it being a rather expensive marathon by normal standards was keen to give this one a go. The only downside being that it includes parts of the North Downs Way on its route, which as I know from my own experience, tends to mean "hilly!". But this year it worked out that we could do this one and as its fairly local, Dorking in Surrey, to be precise we signed up early, much as anything as I had noted it had sold out in the past.


There were some dire warnings of lack of parking spaces I read so we aimed to get there early, giving a lift to Sally Silver and Andrew Burgess en route and arrived about 9:15 (for the unusually late 11:00 start) and we were about the 10th car there! No need to get there quite that early, but we went off to get the numbers and soon were chatting with some other of the usual suspects who were in attendance!

It seemed to be mainly the half marathoner who were in fancy dress, though some of the marathoners were too, and rather troublingly it didn't seem to be very "all-in" fancy dress either in many cases. Do bunny ears make a fancy dress outfit?! lol Rachel and I both had fancy dress outfits to be changing in to, but Rachel swayed off hers and I was in two minds

In the end I compromised on half a fancy dress outfit! Fishnet stockings and a mini-skirt, my Irish fancy dress outfit had to go in the bin as the skirt fell off! Oddly the stockings elicited 500 comments, not one about the skirt, oddly airy to run in! So that was that, much laughter and mockery at the start of the marathon (the half, much to Karen Webbers upset listed as a "fun run" on the numbers went off an hour later).

I was testing out some new Innov-8 318s that I'd picked up from Sports Pursuit a few weeks earlier with half a mind to have them as "100 mile" trail shoes but even I wouldn't go straight into one of those in fresh shoes! I would do a marathon in them though and so far they had about 200 yards of walking on them but they felt good. Oddly the reviews I'd read about them were either, great grip in the wet, or don't wear them in the wet! Mmm... my thinking on these ones though is that they're not Gore-Tex ones so rather more breathable than the Saloman ones I have. Better if its hot perhaps, on the other hand the Cascadia's tend to let in too much junk for my liking, even with gaitors. These proved OK on the junk front, though in the wet conditions perhaps not a great test for dust etc getting in. Noticed at the end my heels were a bit sore, too much hard surface perhaps for trail shoes on this route although they felt pretty comfortable and cushioned, so still rather undecided on them, or in fact what shoes to wear for the coming 100s. (I have packed five pairs!)

But anyway back to the race. At 11:00 we were off, a mile or so loop and then out in to the wilds so to speak. I set off reasonably quickly but nothing too much daft as wasn't looking to run that hard, plus its trail, plus its hilly! It was two loops so my vague plan for no reason at all was to run the first one moderately hard, then just take the second loop easy as I could get away with.

I soon fell in with Mark Johnston and his friend Andy who was in a full Scooby Doo outfit! We chatted about 100s for a while, they both recently completed their first 100s at SDW100 and are in for Caesar's Camp 100 in October and thinking about UTMB. Which even scares me rather! We lost each other at the first aid station as I tucked in and caught up and lost each other several more times. I was feeling a bit lethargic as had a "good" eating week (still cutting) but gave myself permission to have a munch on this one and there was plenty of chocolate, biscuits and jelly babies on offer and with 7 aid stations a loop, I downed half my body weight in goodies as meandered around.

I actually found fair bits of it pretty runnable, despite in retrospect the first 9 miles or so being on a general uphill with a couple of decent hills thrown in (OK I walked little bits of those!) but otherwise ran the first lap, and flew the last few miles which were a nice downhill back to the start/finish area! The only downside was a short sharp shower that passed over about mile 7 or 8, right on the chalky uphill bit which made that as slippy as anything. Was pleased to maintain an average of 9:xx for the first 14 miles though and was only really on the rather more uphill bits than I remembered from the first time that I slowed down to force marching the uphill bits.

The second loop took rather longer but basically ran reasonably where I should and walked up anything noticeably uphill and on the basis that I'd eaten far too much really I skipped anything at the last few aid stations. Was quite motivating I found to start passing the back markers from the half marathon, bearing in mind that they'd had well over an hours head start on me, although in truth with the amount of wine being consumed (I didn't have any as I had volunteered to drive home) I'm not really sure that many of them were racing that hard! The rain returned in earnest for the last few miles which as much as anything else gave me a bit of a gee up to get a move on! I think the last couple of miles (admittedly very downhill) were in the 8:xx area and that doesn't happen too often.

4:36 in the end, which I was actually really fairly pleased with as I hadn't really tried terribly hard the second loop and on looking through my previous times for "hilly" marathons (this had about 1800' of up according to my Garmin) it was my best time by some way. As much as 30 minutes in fact, and whilst I've had faster trail marathon times they've been considerably flatter and more runnable.

At the end I waited around for a while to see the other runners home and to wait for Rachel (who had the car keys!) and had a chat with some more folk. Sally Silver kindly loaning me a jacket as was really pretty chilly in the pouring rain (autumn certainly hit this day...) and after a bite to eat in the big tent that was that!

All in all a very nice event really, very well marshalled and the aid stations were very good (especially the first time around before the half marathoners had half cleaned them out!) and despite the weather felt I had a decent enough run. One I'd certainly do again.

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