When I finished my previous marathon, at the end of June, I was sure that the 11 weeks before my next was too long and I needed to enter another long race in July/August. Well it turned out to be not quite long enough, so I’m glad I didn’t find anything else to run. During a training run in mid July, along the North Down Way I hit a tree root (why?) and gravity did the rest. I picked myself up, clearly nothing too serious, certainly nothing broken and I was able to complete another 20k. There was sufficient pain for me to have it checked over the next day, just bruising to side/back/ribs so 6 or max 8 weeks before it would be healed. Well wind forward to the day of the Ostrava (Ostravsky) Marathon and the suggested time was certainly optimistic, I knew this was going to be a difficult run.
The heavy shower at 0900 then sun with cloud for the rest of the day was exactly what the forecast suggested and ideal conditions. Thank goodness things had changed over the previous week, it was in the low 30s seven days earlier so the 1030 start would have meant it being very hot for most of the race. But a westerly wind was forecast to increase noticeably, with gusts up to 40mph, and this was also correct, strange how although very little of the course involved running to the west the wind did seem to be head-on for much of the second lap!,On my walk down to the start I met another senior runner, a Finn, Christer Kallio, who had had a similar rib problem earlier in the year which, if I understood him properly, he sustained in a robbery in his home when all of his running memorability was stolen; I’d never considered that happening, what a loss it would be.
This is the 2nd two lap marathon I have completed, the other was Bermuda. Whereas that was twice around the island, so a very straight-forward route, this one was convoluted, with different loops such that at no stage were we more than 5k from the start/finish and for a majority of the run we were within 3k. There were aid stations every 5k, a useful distance as it made it possible to just imagine you were running a parkrun from one to another. There was water and energy drink at all of them and fruit plus a juice (guava?) at some. The half and full marathon set off at the same time, so as we started on our second lap the field sudden thinned.
The hub for the whole event was Trojhali which was behind the a major shopping centre. The buildings were formally part of a coking plant (Ostrava was formally a major iron and steel city), which have been transformed to produce a new venue for sport, entertainment and culture. The expo was in one of the buildings, the start and finish on the road next to them.
Apart from the approaches to the bridges we crossed the course was basically flat. Before my enforced rest over most of the Summer I had pictured this as a pb run, but on the starting line I knew that would have to wait for another country. My intention was to complete the 42.2k with minimum stress to ribs etc so when I went through half way fractional under 2 hours I was happy and decided to aim for 4:30 by walking/running when things started to ‘tighten’. This was at the 28k mark when I stated to walk one ‘distance’ then run five. My ‘distance’ was either between the adjacent bollards that were used in some places as course markers, or lampposts. This made the 2nd half a relatively comfortable jaunt and I finished a couple of minutes inside my target, despite a brain freeze moment where I took off in the diametrically opposite direction for a couple of hundred metres after crossing one of the bridges.
The whole of the right side of my chest was very uncomfortable after I had finished, so I didn’t hang around once I had picked up my bag. I did know that there were awards for my M60+ age category, but didn’t think I would need to hang around to see if I had managed to get into the top three, I wanted to get back, lie down and have a few beers to ease my considerable aches. Unfortunately I made the wrong decision as I had ended up second, indeed with anything like the run I would normally have had I would have been first. By the time I had seen the official results next day it was too late, I contacted the organisers but the bag of whatever goodies that had collected had been distributed amongst the excellent support team.
So marathon number 15 in country 15 was completed, one that I could have quite easily had to DNS, thus probably ending my whole project if it had happened a couple of weeks later. A salutary lesson for me to be much more careful when running trails, or indeed any run, as something as simple as a trip although producing an injury that ostensible isn’t serious can have a major detrimental effect on being able to run.