Sunday, 14 October 2012


The Loch Ness Marathon hadn't been on my 2013 'to do' list when I made my plans for the year. I had 'penciled' in the River Ness 10K, for the 6th consectutive year, for this weekend in Inverness. But around a month before I looked at my remaining races and fancied a longer one at the end of September. I had never run a full 'proper' marathon before so thought, 'why not?'

So, to summarise.......I stayed at a B&B in Inverness the night before as I had to register for the race the day before (Saturday). I headed down to registration, got my number and timing chip and headed over to the 'Big tent' for a pasta meal.
 I then wandered back up to my B&B and enroute nipped into McDonalds for a sneeky burger. I wasn't sneeky enough, as I was walking up the hill past the castle with a coo's arse hanging out my gob I bumped into Fiona and Pauline. Caught!
When I got back to my digs I sorted out my running kit and went to bed. Up at the dawn of crack (5am) for a pot of porridge, bananana, flapjack and coffee and I was good to go. I crept out of the B&B and drove down to park at the 'village'. Had a drink of fruit juice before I made my way over to the buses and soon we were on our way down to the start at the south end of Loch Ness. For the most part the trip there was in silence. Occasionally only the noise of a bodily function broke the silence on the bus. It took around an hour for the convoy to get to the start area and the welcome relief of getting off the bus and inhaling some fresh air. I had thought i was clever by getting on the second from the front bus. However, on arriving at the start area the buses at the front were the furthest from the start area, the baggage vans and more importantly, the toilets. In fact the start banner was barely visible from where my bus stopped. There was nothing else for it, pee in the bushes. So hundreds of male runners littered the side of the road with their bits hanging in the wind. After what seemed like forever I reached the baggage van and launched my bag into the right numbered section, only for it to fall straight back out into a big puddle. Bugger.
Then the organised warm up began, which I decided to give a miss and do my own. I took my place in the crowd at the 4 and half hour finishing banner and waited for the off. I didn't have too long to wait and soon we were running. I settled into my pace very early on and just wanted to enjoy the day. The route is very scenic and took a while to reach the lochside. I took full advantage of the water and Clif feed stations, although the clif shot bloks were like chewing rubber and alot of inconsiderate runners had disgarded theirs on the road making it lethal if you stood on one. A number of residents along the route had very nicely set up their own small unofficial water stations which was brilliant. However ,at one of these a runner in front of me, lets call him an arse for reference purposes, lost the plot when a small child accidentally dropped a cup as he went to grab it. Arse. My thanks to all those who manned these unofficial stations as it was great to get a wee fluid top up and a jelly baby and hope that idiots like that don't put them off supporting this event. So 26 miles of tarmac turned out not to be all that beneficial to my muscles. Maybe Hokas would have helped. I had been hoping to get around four hours but had cautiously started in the 4 and half hour group. Around halfway I was on target for under 4 hours but had a wee touch of cramp which affected my second half. On the lochside I stopped for a pee only to hear Fiona Rennie shouting as she ran past, I think in words to the effect of 'I can see your willy'. I turned to laugh, but instead of turning just my head, turned my whole body!, hopefully she had passed by then. So on I ran. At the bottom of the 'big long hill' I spotted Katrina and John, who were here supporting one of their daughters, Laura. I shouted hi and John ran alongside for a few seconds and then sprinted ahead to get a photo of me (below).
Thanks John and Katrina for your words of support. That hill seemed to go on and on and on. But at the top, it was all downhill into Inverness (bit obvious). Shortly after here the route became familiar as it joins the 10K course for the last few miles into Inverness. I knew by now that I would be well over the 4 hour target, but would hopefully scrape under 4 and a half. As we approached the riverside a huge crowd had turned out to cheer the runners on. The last mile straddles the river and from the far bank you can see the finish but you have to run away from it before crossing the bridge to turn into the final straight to the line. So after 26 and a bit miles I finished in 4 hours 25 minutes. It was murder on my calf muscles. Give me an off road/trail ultra race anyday. Although, what a massive medal!
So after a shower I headed back to get my free curry and soup at the event village. Bumped into Ian and Sandra, who both had great runs in brilliant times. So there endeth my first proper Marathon which I had mixed feelings about afterwards. A great well organised event with a fun atmosphere, but boy did it bugger up my legs!!

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