Stour Valley Marathon thats actually 27 Miles bu Paul Heard
So race weekend had arrived again but for some reason I was looking forward to this one more than any others, not to sure why, I knew it was going to be tough. Stour Valley Marathon, 27 Miles of trail running. Maybe I was just looking forward to finishing it after not finishing Brighton Marathon, which has been subjected to some friendly abuse (which is fair enough). So my bag was packed, and Saturday afternoon came around and I found myself at a first birthday party with a beer in my hand not ideal prep work. Then came the usual flurry of text messages from Jo but they weren’t the normal nervous ones, I sensed she was fairly looking forward to this also.
So I set my alarm for 5am, not that I needed it thanks to my neighbours having a badly timed party that woke me up at 4am, thanks. But then again I live in Hamlet Court road its kind of standard behaviour (must move house, looking for a house share if anyone knows of any) I get up and head to the train station to get to Hockley where I was meeting Jo and Mark. Jo opens the door in a towel, is she late…No I’m early, Mark arrived then we were off to meet the rest of the guys in Rayleigh and we were off.
We arrived at Race HQ which was a quiet town hall just outside Colchester and was greeted by a smallish field of runners. Stour Valley Marathon was put down as 27 miles, self navigated, multi terrain, hilly trail run course. For the last few months Jo had told me how hilly it was so we trained well on hills. We gathered everyone together then we went to collect our numbers, SURPRISE there is someone giving out numbers with a Flyers T shirt on….A friendly Paul Sparks welcomed us all in with what I now know as the standard friendly flyers welcome then a quick briefing and we were off.
The race followed out through the village of Neyland then out into the fields surrounding the town, the first 6 miles we were told were the hardest but to be fair it was ok, maybe some energy sapping grass but the toughest bit of the run for me was the flat section at mile 5, a really rutted path covered by grass, ankle breaking stuff that took some concentration on my part with my track record of falling over….Ah bugger I’m on my arse AGAIN, Elliot would be so proud that I’m clearly trying hard to keep this new and ever growing tradition up. We ran with a group for a fair while using there navigation skills but we had a secret weapon with us…we had a roadie cyclist who had bought his bike Garmin with him. Thanks Mark so yeah maybe that’s cheating a little but I’m useless at directions, we soon cruised though 13 miles. The weather made the running a little harder today so it took a while to settle in plus with the different terrains to be honest we never were but at 15 miles things were going well, Mark was comfortable chatting away to EVERYONE that would listen to him, Jo just focusing and me with some Trance in my headphones, perfect, Sun, Running, Friends and good music, I was enjoying this., I look up then at mile 16 to a huge hill, we looked at each other, yeah we are walking this. Then came a little hiccup, Jo was on her first marathon had trained really really well but had a little wobble, this I put down to just a little realization how far we have left to go. She pulled herself together as quickly as she threw the strop and we were off again. Through some fields with lots of cow poo dodging was this the fields with the bulls? The poo was fresh so I picked the pace up to get through that field and we hit the 21 mile mark and the last aid station…Cookies, jelly babies, apple juice I’m not sure about anyone else I could of stayed here. Ah know I can’t I need to finish this. 6 Miles to go Mark was struggling a little which to be fair the running he has done he’s doing well to still be going but like a true gent he gave Jo the Garmin and told us to go without him and he would make his own way. 22/23 miles in takes you back on a loop towards the village, Jo is absolutely cruising now we then hit the official marathon distance of 26.2 in about 4hrs 40 mins a quick hi five and we pushed on back through the village and into the field where it all began we’ve done it and greeted by a yet again friendly Paul Sparks who gave us out medals and complemented how good we looked, by “WE” he must of meant me surely?
4 hrs 50 Minutes awesome work. We then grabbed our medals and went and got some food, Mark came in about 13 minutes later again what an effort with not much training then we waited for the rest of the Flyers who all came in with huge smiles on their faces.
So my opinion on the race, brilliant, well organised , friendly people, awesome course, good food for after, a great goodie bag (with a cold can of booze in it) and the Medal wow!!! What a medal.
A personal point of view what a great day was the most perfect days running you could ever ask for and to cross the line with an awesome pal too was a new experience for me and just added to the event.
Would I do it again, yeah sure might even look at the bigger version too.