Harrow Track Marathon – 20 July 2013
A track marathon, eh? How good can it get? A nice springy surface, flat course, no navigation required, small field of runners – but a few familiar faces, a nice sunny day, great opportunity to pace correctly – given that the lap distance is fixed and known, great environment. Should be worth a PB, surely?
The reality is somewhat different: It was 105.5 laps, which is a huge mental effort. The spring in the track absorbs the impact, not stores and returns it.
It’s circular so we ran anticlockwise all the time, no variation. It was quite open one side so the wind was strong in your face for half the lap and the other half was slightly sheltered so you got no tailwind.. The flatness means that the same muscles are in constant, un-relieved, use. Faster runners came round frequently which was a bit demoralising (versus just remaining at the back on a linear course with little overtaking or overtakers). In fact the quickest chap (2hrs40) lapped me on each lap. One chap was a bit of a barger as he passed, thoroughly annoying, and additional draining on the mental effort. (should I have Deckered him? Any youngsters might have to Wikipedia it: “Decker trip”). I’m sure I wasn’t the only person he barged. Anyhow, still wound up, but moving on….At the start, there was the opportunity to start early, 08:00, which bearing in mind the forecast was 28°C and sunny, I thought I ought to take advantage of. Except the loos opened at 7:55 and I still needed to tape my foot and sort out my shoes. The early start was delayed to about 08:05:30, the importance of which will become apparent…So we had to provide a lap counter and mine was the very generous Natalie, giving up her Saturday for me. Instead of just ticking the laps, the time had to be recorded, and there was a huge clock set up near the finish line. All went well until the official start. At this time the clock was reset to zero. Now Natalie, bless her, was not the only lap time recorder to think, as I completed the lap (during which the clock was reset) in less than a minute “he cant have done a lap in less than a minute, I’ll ignore this and record the time on his next lap”. So the probability is very high that I did at least 106.5 laps. However, without Natalie’s help, there would have been no track marathon for me, and I’d rather err on the side of too far than too short. And she did walk/run the last 10 laps with me, which I found a great help, even though I couldn’t go any faster.
By the way, the mental effort was dissipated by losing count after 20 laps and not being told until 80, also there was tennis courts one side of the track which I could look at each time I passed. There was even some Morris dancers at one point. Oh, it was sunny for the first hour, so I stopped and re-applied suntan lotion, after which it clouded for the rest of the event….
Summary: A great experience, glad I did it once. Not too sure I would repeat it, but given the choice of this or the Leaden Boot, I’d take this one every time.
My time, a disappointing 5:54, still troubled with PF.
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