This is total madness. Two weeks ago I ran The Queenstown Marathon, then three days later travelled back for 36 hours to London. Six days later, helped by jet lag, I was on a very early flight from London to Montego Bay. Although these two marathons had been in my plans for most of the year I find it difficult to justify at least this one, it is a total indulgence which maybe I could have forgone and replanned next year so that Zurich was still feasible in April 2017.
3.15 am Up and down to the 24 hour Sportsman’s Bar, I was the only sportsman there but a few others having the first, or last drink of the day. Used their microwave to cook my gluten free porridge as the hotel does not have specific gluten free stuff.
4.00 am Humidty and mid 70s temperature hit when I go back to my room to pick up bag with post race chocolate milk.
4.20 am Free shuttle bus to start about 5k away, bus crowded with Canadian and American ‘runners’.
4.45 am Find a few Brits to chat to before the start, a couple Kevin Bonfield and Nicky Johnson from Paignton who planned to run it together and they did, right to the finish line.
5.15 am Start, at the very back still chatting but proper chip timing so no problem. Spectacular first few 100m as we pass between flaming torches.
5.18 am That wasn’t a good idea. With the 10k and half marathon starting at the same time and MANY of those participants (1932 of them finished) intent on walking EVERY step of their race moving forward was problematic.
5.31 am Cleared the walkers and settled into a steady, slow pace.
Many unknown times: Made sure I picked up Powerade and/or water at every 1 mile aid station.
More unknown times: Reggae sounds blasting out at many parts of the course, lost count how many times I heard ‘ No woman no cry’.
Many many more unknown times: The characteristic Jamaican odour was so obvious, now Canadians won’t have to travel down here to experience it!
5.42 First turn around point, 4.5k, Negril roundabout.
6.14 am Past start and turn off point for 10k race, number of runners on the road thins dramatically. Gets brighter as sun rises and we start on the second out and back leg.
Next hour: Starts to heat up as sun appears through and above trees. The ‘mist shower’ about a mile into this leg (and of course a mile before the half way point) but pouring water over head was already more effective. Go past my hotel, plenty of supporters outside but no one handing out free beer and they are probably all ‘all inclusive’. Passed a lady in a top with a long list of sponsors on the back, which I recognised as being the same as mine from Lima; she confirmed she had run it in 2014 (but was just doing the half here).
6.49 Second turn around point at northernmost part, 15.3k, seemed a lot further than the extra 1k from the start than the first turn around.
7.27 Back at the start where all of the half marathoners veer off to finish. First time I had an idea of the time, had no gps watch, either left at home or lost it. Phone running Strava in my pocket. Very hot (low 30s) and the first time in my two years of running marathons that I thought “Maybe just the half marathon would have been a good idea”.
Next hour: Down and back to Negril roundabout again, sun now beating down on us and almost no shade. At least I was more than maintaining my position, and although I expect my pace was dropping I wasn’t too uncomfortable.
8.29 Through the start line again and was greeted by Tita Bonita who offered me salt, which I gratefully accepted without a second thought. After my cramping problems two weeks earlier (and in Novi Sad in the summer when I ran on consecutive weekends) I had intended to bring salt tablets with me, but forgot.
9.22 The final turnaround and things had started to become difficult, but that was the same for everyone in sight. Walking became the norm, for people in both directions and we were all trying to make use of any small amount of shade occasional trees provided, even if this involved running on the ‘wrong’ side of the round of the road and on the outside of curves. This might explain the extra 0.6k Strava suggests I ran.
10.06 The finish line showing a time of 4:51:22 which I expected to be about three minutes slower than my chip time, as suggested when I stopped Strava. The chocolate milk in my drop bag had never been more welcomed.
I did manage to come in at 4:48:10 so preserved my aim of not running slower than my first marathon in Athens. It had been touch and go, and I’m sure if I had had my gps watch I would have been more aware of my times over the final 6k and walked less. If I had been told my time before the start I would have been very disappointed. But looking at the overall event results I am now not. I was in the top half of the finishers, 68 out of 158. The average time for the finishers was 5:06:24 so I was 18 minutes faster than that and I was second in my age category.
So a year with some quite extraordinary marathons has come to and end, and I can put my feet up for a couple of months. Most unlikely, I hope to get back onto the NDW for some hard winter running in preparation for next year’s races start at the end of February, with the first three in a six week spell, but all in Europe.
I can’t actually confirm that the jerk chicken is hot in Negril, it couldn’t be guaranteed to be gluten free so I didn’t taste any of it.
Well I can now confirm ” the palate burning qualities of the jerk chicken” quote from the afore mentioned Kevin Bonfield.
I am disappointed to report than 2 months after the race the organisers have not managed to produce photos of a majority of the marathon finishers, or provide a reason as to why this has happpened.