Monthly Archives: January, 2014

The Bermuda Marathon – More Parallelogram Than Triangle

The race forms part of the Bermuda Marathon Weekend Challenge. The full challenge involved a mile race on Friday, 10k on Saturday and the marathon on Sunday; the half challenge substitutes a half marathon for the full. 81 runners registered for the full, and I was one of  50 for just the marathon. Nearly 1000 were to run the half marathon which started at the same time.

The expo was held in one of Hamilton’s top rated hotels, The Fairmont Hamilton Princess. It wasn’t really an expo, just 2 separate rooms where the bib then t-shirt were collected.  Unusually we were issued with 2 bibs the instructions were for them to be attached to the front and back; but why?* Even more unusual was the front bib having 2 timing chips attached, no-one knew why.** The goodie bag stall for the marathon wasn’t manned, so I sorted out my own bag; not too difficult as there was only one with my size t-shirt! 

The hotel chef started work at 6.00am and cooked the gluten free porridge I had brought with me. My OH had decided to come in for the start, getting up so early isn’t usually her thing, but the 4 hours time difference made it easy, we were both awake well before 6.00am. There wouldn’t be much for her to see, except the runners passing after the first circuit, then the finish. Most of the shops in Hamilton don’t open on Sunday, except those serving food. Being a bit of a foodie, the full Bermudian breakfast of salted codfish, boiled potatoes, banana, boiled egg and avocado (with a choice of sauce) was her obvious pick. It probably took as long to eat as it did me to run one circuit of the course.

Bermudian breakfast

We don’t usually take taxis but it was the only way to get to the start, the buses didn’t start running until, not because of any road closures, it’s just the way Bermuda works. There were 2 other runners staying in our hotel, one doing the full challenge, the other the half marathon. The start organisation was very relaxed, no pens, no particular starting order, just get yourself to where you are comfortable, but as the field was small this wasn’t a problem.

I have completed a number of half marathons where the full was run at the same time and involved going round the same course twice. In all of them I could not imagine being able to do the 2nd circuit. So as this was one of those, with 2 circuits of the island,  I was very apprehensive before the start. And of course the number of runners decreased dramatically after the first lap such that there would be very few others to run with.


Over half of the course involved running with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, and the general consensus was that that course was hilly; undulating is a better description. I’m sure hardcore marathoners would say it is not a difficult course and during the 1st circuit I would certainly agree.  Magically all of the gradients seemed to magnify 2nd time around, especially  the major hill that occurs just before the 4/17 mile mark (McGall’s Hill?). And the course designer was cruel at the end of the circuit; as we were coming down into Front Street, with the finish line just coming into sight, there was a detour of 200m off at a right angle clearly needed to make up the distance. It would have been much kinder to have added this somewhere else in the course!

Bermuda Half Marathon elevation

Weather conditions were much better than might have been expected. Those running the 10k on the previous day were almost drown! People I spoke to said they had found it difficult to get their trainers dry for the marathon. Locals said usually it is wet and windy for the whole weekend. It was sunny this year, with a moderate wind in our faces along the north shore

There were water and red Gatorade (ugh) stations every 2 miles, but no gels, fruit or sponges. Great support around the whole course for the first circuit, and in pockets during the 2nd circuit where Bermudians were clearly in party mood.

Checking times after finishing I was so pleased to have produced an almost 17 minutes pb (OK, from a low base in Athens), and my time for the first half was faster than my time in the Jerusalem half marathon 11 months previous.

end1So if you want a marathon to kick off the year, why not try this? And the medal is excellent, with a t-shirt brightening your winter runs when you come home.

t and medal

Post scrip: 7 weeks after the race, the evening before I was due to fly out to my next marathon, I received an email from the organisers of the Bermuda Marathon informing me that they had a trophy to send to me for finishing 3rd in my age category!  They arranged for it to get to me, so this is now sitting proudly with my medal. Thank you very much for taking the trouble to send it to me.

* The person that organised for me to get my trophy told me the back bib was so that runners of the half marathon could see, when behind a marathon runner, that it was not someone they were ‘competing’ against.

** The same person said the 2nd timing chip was a back-up, just in case the first one failed.





Lows, highs, deeper lows, higher highs

This year was not going to be just another when I went out running on my own on local roads. I was going to step up.

Before 2013 my races comprised of struggling around 2 half marathons, half of a 30 mile ultra, 4 park runs (I know I shouldn’t call them races, but…) and a beerathon. Now I am comfortable running half marathons such that I can do them on consecutive week ends, with a stress fracture in my foot;  my 30 mile ultra race distance increased to what I was aiming for, 25 miles, on one of the hottest days of the years; parkruns have become an integral part of my life, including 3 on New Year’s Day and 7 on the Sunday closest to mid-summer’s day and the beerathon is still running, drinking eating and meeting mad people. And of course there was the big one.

The low hit in January, in the midst of Janathon and training for the Jerusalem half marathon. On holiday in Zanzibar I misjudged the last step on the stairs on the way down from dinner and ended up with a grade 2 quad strain. The suggested recovery time of 6 weeks took me to the day of the Jerusalem half. With race entered, flights and hotel booked you can imagine the trough I was in.

The upward climb did began, literally, on the hills in Jerusalem as I was able to compete and finish; it continued to a high in July with 10k and parkrun targets met a half marathon pb after running a parkrun earlier in the day and an exhilarating 5 mile Anniversary run finishing in the Olympic stadium.

Things unravelled at the end of August to be confirmed in September a couple of days after being the first home in the 60-64 age category at the Bacchus half. A metatarsal stress fracture with no hope of running for a least 6 weeks. That would be the day of my proposed 1st marathon, Amsterdam. The deep low really hit after another 2 weeks when there had been no significant improvement, even walking was incredibly painful and I had to accept that Amsterdam would not be possible. Because it was to be the start of significant project, not to be able to run it would mean the 2nd marathon which I had already booked, and subsequent ones planned would really be redundant.  But… 

The saviour came in the form of The Athens Classic Marathon with a date 3 weeks after Amsterdam. I was fit enough to run it, the project was back on the the high afterwards (and still now) was immense. And to keep the crest up there, even though the announcement came in January, it was for December, I received the Riddlesdown Sweatshop runner of the month award.

So the year has taught me that some setbacks do not necessarily mean that all is lost, but I was lucky that both of the injuries (which actually meant for 20% of the year I was unable to run) gave just enough recovery time; however for some time I will be nervous during the final few weeks before key races.

There were some other highs that I enjoyed. My son coming in 16th place in the Surrey 100 cycle ride in August, my daughter being first lady home in 3 day, 90 mile ultra-marathon The Toad Challenge and a number of other marathon  podium finishes, and accompanying/supporting my son-in-law  to quite a number of the 30 marathons (and an ultra-marathon) he ran during the year.