The Chelmsford Marathon that wasn’t….

When the Chelmsford Marathon was first mentioned I was a bit non plussed about entering it.

So obviously within a couple of weeks I’d signed up and a training plan was chosen.

Having run Milton Keynes Marathon in May and suffering in the final eight miles I decided to take Chelmsford a little easier and try to enjoy the occasion.

So we all met up on the Sunday morning in Central Park. Some nerves were jangling in The Flyers camp and whoever used the portaloo before me seemed to be more nervous than most, but at least they’d be a bit lighter when they started. Or at some point someone had taken a horse in there. Would it kill the organisers to put a ‘Glade Lily Of The Valley’ in these things?

The weather was pretty much perfect and that was a relief as heavy rain in the preceding week had forced the organisers to re route the course.

The race started fifteen minutes late, not entirely sure why, but the Heart FM DJ who was entertaining everyone seemed to be enjoying himself.

And we were off. I started at a steady pace and before I knew it Justin, Andy, Paul, Elliott, Ian and Chantal went past me and on to a fantastic run (only for Justin’s calf to ping around mile 15)

By mile three jogging in the opposite direction was star of the green baize Ronnie O Sullivan.

Ronnie on the Run!

I imagine Ronnie likes to get away from it all on his quiet Sunday morning run.

Not quiet today though.

“RONNIE!”, “LEGEND!” were just a couple of things I heard

“Have a good run Jimmy!” was another.


When we got to Hylands Park I was still maintaining an easy pace and felt really good.

I knew Heart FM were in Hylands Park and I could hear the faint sound of Robbie Williams smash hit ‘Rock DJ’. Not being a huge fan of Robbie I found this the hardest part of the race so far and probably ran the quickest mile throughout.

At this point it was great to see Lin, Val & Tina shouting and singing encouragement.

There was also an American man running with a camera strapped to his forehead. He was very enthusiastic.

“Alright!”, “Looking Good!”, “Yeah baby!” (When I heard this I had to look around and make sure he wasn’t running dressed as Austin Powers).

Not sure he appreciated the blank looks and half-hearted “Cheers mate” from fellow runners.

I had to get away from him as ironically his constant positivity was getting me down.

I went through halfway in around 1.48. Which felt fine and I felt very comfortable.

This was my plan until mile 20 when I intended to up the pace.

Between miles 17-20 I was passing runners constantly. They either went off too quickly or I was still quite strong. It felt great to have so much in the tank.

When I got back to Central Park for the last part of the race I saw Amanda and Dean. (I actually heard her before I saw her)

Shortly after, heading in the other direction were Paul and Andy who were having a great run.

Then I saw Hugh, Maggie and Peter cheering us on again and I thought how much of a boost all the supporters had given us, not just today, but at every event.

A woman in front of me was going at a good pace and I thought if I could get in her slipstream I could get pulled along. But within a few strides I’d gone past her and felt great.

I then turned the corner back to where Amanda and Dean were standing and noticed there were no runners in front of me. The field seemed pretty stretched out at this point.

This is when it went wrong. A marshal ushered me to his right and I assumed everyone had been directed this way.

The crowds were fantastic. Cheering and clapping, a great wall of noise.

It took me back to my schools sports days.

Then I looked up. The finish line. What? My mind was swimming in confusion.

I went over the finish mat after running 23.20 miles. A medal was placed around my neck and I was given a goody bag.

“Well done”, “Congratulations”.

I couldn’t accept any of this. I looked at my Garmin again. The time I liked. The distance I didn’t.  What just happened? I felt my quickest miles were in front of me.  To say I wasn’t happy would be an understatement.

I walked over to Amanda and Dean who were all smiles. But I had to tell them what happened. It felt like I had cheated, but at the same time I knew none of this was my fault.

The way the course was set up it would have been quite easy to cheat deliberately if you were really struggling and you were that way inclined. But I had never felt so good at that stage of a marathon before and cutting corners isn’t in my nature. Seeing everyone else finish was great though. Paul had a superb run. Andy smashed his PB out of the park. Ian with the help of Elliott ran a marathon debut of 3.40, Chantal made it look too easy as well.

And then Keith and his posse came in. All was good again.

So in short, personally not what I set out to achieve. But I like to look at the positives.

I’d run well within myself for that distance and would have ended up with a decent marathon time. I’m sure I will get some gentle ribbing regarding this, but I don’t mind a bit of banter. Fortunately I don’t dwell on these things and 48 hours later I’ve already set myself a new target of getting my parkrun time down by the end of the year.

On to Brighton next year and 26.2


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