Above - Heading round the KC Stadium around mile 4 - Zoe in centre and Alex in red to the right.
The route took us round the city centre before we headed out on Anlaby Road and then a circuit of the KC Stadium (Home to Hull City FC and one of the Rugby teams). We’d already noted a lack of visible mile markers so were reliant on the garmins for our distances to see if we had the pace right for our target. Through mile 6 and we had a gentle climb up Boothferry Road to then head onto the Humber Bridge. Plenty of support along the way, with many Beverley AC members cycle along the route to cheer, or even use their car to get about (thanks Jo!). One of the club, Jed, looked like he’d cycle into a bus stop as he tried to take a picture on his bike. As we headed onto the Bridge we noticed the route didn’t seem to go as we’d expected, instead taking us across the bridge on the actual road rather than foot path. This was great though for the supporters here, passing Pam and Mike and Andy (making his first trip to see a marathon, which said left him feeling exhausted watching it!).
Coming up Boothferry Road between 7 and 8 miles
The Bridge had the advantage you saw the front runner going back in the opposite direction and as we headed back, we could cheer on other runners we knew. Zoe had a couple of mild issues with her asthma as we came back over the bridge and towards Hessle, at which we pointed we parted with her. Alex and I carried on, maintaining the pace we needed of 7:30 minute miles as we headed through Hessle town centre and on back towards Hull. We had a brief section off the main road as we ran round part of Pickering Park – it turns out not as much of it as we should have though!
We also passed Julie’s husband and son, Stuart and Oliver, who also took advantage of the area and appeared several times to cheer us (well more likely Julie) on. More friends were out as we went through into mile 17 – Jacqui, Denise and Claire (Claire having had the privilege of running the 5 miles round the Olympic Park two weeks earlier). As we did an s shape movement around the Hessle Road industrial area, Alex and I both had toilet stops and had to chase the other to ensure we didn’t drop our pace majorly. At 20 miles we were on 2:32 – we’d dropped to 8 minute miles as a result.
Mile 19 before the Marina
We gained some extra cheering as we entered the Marina area and Alex’s parents and partner, Joe, cheered us through. The cobbles were a tad uncomfortable, not aiding the slightly slowing pace. I could also feel muscles beginning to tighten, knowing I had 6 miles still to go. The route then took us around the Deep and along Victoria Dock by the Humber Foreshore. This seemed very odd as I train along here every week, so running a marathon a mile from home was bizarre! Alex led the pace here as I started to struggle – but kept pushing myself to recatch him. It was twisty and we then ran back along the same section to the Deep – in total nearly 4 miles out and back, to pass through mile 24 as we headed past the Fruit Market and into Hull’s old town. The good thing along the dock was we saw various other club members as we headed each way – including Zoe, Julie, Andrew Brant and a number of Beverley AC and East Hull Harriers (Alex’s club) runners.
I could no longer catch Alex as we headed into the city centre for the final mile along the same route as we’d started. There were plenty to cheer us through mile 25 and I my final sight of Alex as we ran was as he went round the square and we passed each other. A big cheer from Tony Beck – a club member on marshalling duties at this point helped and I’d worked out I could even walk and still get a PB!
I ran it all – I believe the first time I’ve not walked any of the 26.2 miles in about ten marathons! I came through into Alfred Gelder Street and was delighted to see 3:21 on the clock – and finished in 3:21:25 – nearly 10 minutes faster than my previous PB from October 2006 – my 17th attempt at beating it! Even though it turned out we ran 25.85 miles, I’d have beaten my time whatever in about 3:24:10. It was good enough for me! I’d also finished in the top 100 – 96th overall.
Right - Alex and I on Hull Marina between 20 and 21 miles
Crossing the finish line to finally break 3 hours 30 mins
The great thing was many other friends smashed their best times – Alex ran 39 minutes faster than in Lisbon, (3:20:15); Zoe wasn’t far behind us and finished in 3:24:46. Andrew Brant smashed 25 minutes off his best and finished in 3:29:10, Helen Storr a similar margin to finish in 3:52:55 and Debs Brant broke four hours for the first time to cross in 3:59:48; Steve Hadley (who ran Dublin in 2008) knocked 22 minutes off his time (3:57:18). Huge well done to them all. Julie came through in 3:33:51 and Mandy in 4:04:42. The winner was local runner Phil Taylor in just over 2:31.
We celebrated the days results and critiqued the event back at mine afterwards with light lunch. I’d still not quite broke my brothers time, but I’m getting closer! The day was topped off by my younger brother, Pete, asking me to be his best man at his wedding in 2013.
Alex and I with our medals - massive thanks to Alex for his company on the route and helping me through the last 5 miles
The first of the next 25 marathons was unusual in that I didn’t need to go away for the weekend as it was on home soil with the first ever Hull Marathon. It was so local I walked to the start from my home within 25 minutes. If anything, I found it hard to get my head into the zone that I had a marathon coming up, as I was home cleaning etc the day before, apart from popping to the shopping centre to register. What was more disappointing was the lack of visible signs a marathon was taking place in the city and the rather long queue to register. At least I had a chance to catch up with fellow running club friends whilst waiting.
The positive of it being at home was the number of other known runners taking part and also the running club community from the 8 local running clubs and local triathlon club dotted along the course. The race was to start at 8am – the earliest I’d ever raced and meant despite being at home I was still up at 6am to have breakfast. Friends, Helen and Alex, walked in with me and we had a chance to wish many other friends’ good luck before the race began. This included Julie, Debs, Mandy, Steve and Andrew, who have all done international marathon trips with me.
Alex and I had planned to run together having run nearly all our long training
Just before the race began
Below - just after the Humber Bridge near mile 12
Julie runs alongside fellow Beverley runner, Jody Horth, on Hull’s Docks near The Deep around mile 21
With Andrew Brant after his stunning PB
Helen around mile 21 near the Deep
Many thanks to Stuart Donald, Jed Holden, Andy Marson and Andy Grainger for the great pictures - more on Facebook or in the gallery