Frost melting on the way to the start overlooking Kielder Water
Steve Cram - the organiser of the event - helping out at the Park & Ride
I travelled up with friend, Si, and we met more friends, Chris, Ros and their son, Tristan. Chris and Si were also running the route – which Chris had recommended from the previous year, despite thick fog and rain and wind. However, we were blessed with a cool, bright wind free day for 2012 as we headed to the starting area on the west shore as the morning frost melted. All three of us got our excuses in early – lack of training/aching legs/bad stomach – you can decipher which one who was who! On arrival at the park and ride we were impressed to see the event organiser, Steve Cram, on duty. That said, the start was delayed by 15 minutes due to a bus getting stuck – but in fairness that was the only issue all day and should not take away from an excellently organised event.
The route goes clockwise round Kielder Water, starting with a loop just over a mile from Leaplish, giving Ros and Tristan a chance to cheer us before our return 25 miles later. Chris sped off ahead early on whilst Si and I maintain a 7:30 pace for about 3 miles before an early loo stop! We separated not long after, Si dropping behind me. The route, as is to be expected around a man made reservoir, very twisty, following the trail path up and down – it said undulating and wasn’t joking as it was never flat! I like undulating usually more than flat, but to actually either be going up or down constantly starts to take it out of you! At 10K I could already feel my right hamstring pulling, but ignored it as much as possible and carried on going.
Si and Lucas come through approx 1.5 miles into the marathon
Marathon number 3 for 2012, still supporting Cystic Fibrosis Trust, took me north to Northumberland and Kielder Water reservoir, just south of the Scottish border. Having never really explored Northumberland at all, it was my first overnight stop in the county and only the second time I’d done anything more than travels though the county.
The training for Kielder was probably my least ever. The Olympic and Paralympics volunteering rather took up 5 weeks of my life and a week cycling 611 miles left few weekends to run any distance. The one weekend in August I ran 15.5 miles across London to collect my Paralympics uniform; I was caught in the most horrendous downpour on the Thames Embankment. My other two long runs were less than 48 hours after completing the 611 miles cycling and then a week before the Marathon – not usually recommended but needed to be sure the distance was in me! 20.5 miles later after running to and over the Humber Bridge and back from home I knew it was, but hurt!
Having made it down into the baggage tent, Roz greeted me with the camera as I apparently looked obviously in pain. However, poor Chris, who’d run an excellent 3:19, had thrown up nearer the end and after finishing. As I hobbled my way through the finish area and collected goody’s and my bag and headed for the tea stall (yes I was well enough for a cup of tea still!) Si arrived in 4:05 – having hit his own wall around 18 miles and muttering something about a lack of training clearly reflecting when I headed off at a pace he couldn’t sustain. Despite us all feeling a bit washed out, we agreed it was a magnificent course, with the autumnal air as you ran through forest and along the water shore with the sun keeping it cheerful. In all fairness, we’d not run around the curse with a Fridge on our back!
Right - runners snaking off on the west shore of Kielder Water
We had a few supporters as went through the 7 mile point near Kielder village but once we’d turned south onto the east shore, it was very sparsely populated with supporters other than marshals for the next 11 miles. The scenery was amazing and some yachts moored in a small inlet blasted some horns as we went round the inlet shoreline – not encouraged by the view of the hill to be seen on the other side which we’d be climbing. By half way was just behind my target pace, in 1:40 and doing OK, despite my leg. No sign of Chris ahead or Si behind though as I was making ground on many other runners. However, by 16 miles I’d started to lose a little pace and stagnated before runners started to catch me again heading into the 18th mile, where we went through a crowd of supporters before turning onto the only flat section over the Dam on the south side.
I was beginning to look more like I was hobbling now rather than running and had lost my pace but was determined to keep going and made 20 miles before finally conceded a stretch was in order. However, as I went to stretch my calf back towards my thigh I caused myself cramp instead! A moment of pained aguish before I pressed on – 6 miles left which included the biggest zig zag hill of the route at mile 21/22. It was the hills that really showed how much my hamstring was pulling as I found myself almost like a bike, rolling up the hill until momentum stopped without man power. My problem being the legs didn’t have the power even though I had the energy. Frustrated, Si still didn’t catch me as I went through walks and hobbling/limping style runs round the inland section on the south west side before we reached Leaplish over what seemed like the longest mile ever! Frustratingly, I couldn’t sprint finish as my legs refused – which had been the issue since about 21 miles. As much as I’d try to pick up pace the legs wouldn’t play the game and I headed over the finish line in a steady paced jog – I think the first Marathon I’ve never sprint finished. My time was 3:51:32 – nothing to be despondent about but I was still frustrated.
Finally I have finished -but hobble through the tent to find my baggage
Once we’d gathered our energy, nourished with cakes and tea, we headed back to the cars on the park and ride. On arrival back at the car park, Steve Cram was still there directing traffic – in between being asked for autographs and pictures. I knew Chris was a big fan of his so plucked up the courage to get a picture of the three of us with Steve and gave the opportunity to personally thank him for such a well organised event. One I’d recommended and plan to return to. (But without the hamstring issue!)
mile 24 and 25
In my official finishers T-shirt
Soaked through after my training run on the way to get my Paralympic Games maker kit
Left - Lucas, Chris and Si preparing before the start - it’s not as weird as it looks - we’re vaselining and attaching gels
The Fridge man on route round the course!
Lucas, Si, Trstan, Chris and Ros after the Marathon and all have recovered with Kielder in the background.