50/50 marathons

13. Abominable Snowman Marathon

29th December 2019

Abominable Snowman

I had trouble finding a marathon to fill this weekends gap. Generally speaking, the winter months aren’t favoured for running marathons, plenty of shorter runs available, but marathons are thin on the ground. Most of January is currently empty, so I either use up buffer time that I’ve built in and not do any marathons, recover a bit, or I run solo without an organised event. Still not sure what to do. But back to this weekend’s trial.

As luck would have it, this weekend was the Abominable Snowman, organised by GP Sport. I’ve done this event a couple of times before and really enjoy it. It falls in that no mans land time period between Christmas and New Year, when you don’t know what day it is and you’re living on a diet of crisps and chocolate orange. So it comes as a nice break and a healthy respite.

Only problem is that it’s not a marathon, you choose to either run the 10 miler, or a 10km course. But I found that if I ran from my house to the event, that would be exactly 10 miles, so then I run the 10 mile course, followed by the 10km course (6.2 miles) and voila, I have myself a marathon, bit of a Frankenstein’s monster of a marathon, but a marathon just the same.

I contacted the organisers a few weeks before to ask if they’d allow me to do both and if I could start the 10 mile earlier to ensure I’m ready to start the 10 km with the rest of the field. I half expected a negative response, but instead they were very positive and happy to help in any way that they could, right down to delivering my race number so that I didn’t need to register on the day. I was pretty chuffed with this little plan when I came up with it, but then the reality of it started to sink in. The 2 times I’d done it before was only on the 10 km course and both times I’d found to be extremely challenging and was glad not to be doing the 10 miler. So this time, the thought of doing both, after running 10 miles there was rather daunting.

I set of at about 8:20 from home. The weather was fine, bit grey, but no rain and just a hint of a breeze, perfect. The route I’d worked out was all main road, quite undulating, but generally straightforward. I kept the pace steady to ensure I was as fresh as possible for the real challenge ahead. I’d agreed to get there at 10ish. The main race start for the 10 mile was at 11, so this would give me 2 hours to run the course before the 10km start at 12 noon.

By the time I got there people had already started to arrive and there was quite a mob hanging around at the registration area. I carried on running through until I saw the organiser. He gave me a very quick briefing on the route and then set me on my way. It was strange to be running completely on my own, but nice because the track wasn’t churned up yet.

Almost immediately the course headed up, and kept going up to the top of the downs! The view up top was stunning, the Isle of Wight really does offer some amazing landscape when you get out into the countryside. The course was different from the previous years. The beastie hill that would normally be at the end came in about 2 miles in. It really is a killer, you can’t run, you’re lucky if you can manage a slow walk, it’s generally a crawl, Beachy Head Marathon eat your heart out, this is a proper hill! With the severe up hills there are also the extreme downhill sections. Whilst running the 10 mile course these were ok as they hadn’t been made slippery by all the other runners yet, but come the 10 km lap, they would be evil.

Abominable Snowman
Abominable Snowman

At one point I lost the track, took a wrong turn and ended up of course. I had to check the map to make sure I was headed in the right direction. It wasn’t long before I eventually came across the course again. But then I found a couple setting up an aid station and signs that pointed one way for the 10 mile and another for the 10 km. by this point though I was not far from finishing 10 miles so I made the decision to head right for the 10km and finish direction as I didn’t want to add on extra distance at this point.

Another beast of a hill that requires digging deep to get up. But at the top of this I could see where I was and realised that because of the earlier mistake, I would fall slightly short. I needed to be at 20 miles when I started the last lap. I could see the finish in the distance and knew I had to make up about a mile. So I ran a couple of times around a field that included a big hill called ‘piggin hill’. This did the job. So then I continued to the finish, to start the 10km lap. I’d managed to time it perfectly to join the 10km mass just as it started. All these fresh faced, giggling and laughing poor sods who had no idea what was in store. I was suffering and my pace was very slow. They probably thought I was just really crap and unfit. My key aim was that no matter what, I didn’t want to come in last!

This time around the track was much more boggy and very slippery. At points people were sliding down hills on their bums. My legs were burning, so the up hill segments killed, but the downhill were probably worse. I saw where I’d made my mistake the first time around. Much easier when there are marshals to point the way.

The finish couldn’t come quick enough. By now I’d been running for over 5 hours and the cold was kicking in. A massive relief to see Caroline at the end. I was handed a bottle of the specially brewed ale, sat on a hay bale and I was done.

Another one down, next week takes me up to Milton Keynes for the Winter Enigma. Sadly this is another lapped route. But I guess it’ll be flat.

If you’d be interested in running the Abominable Snowman in the future, take a look at GP Sports.

Abominable Snowman
Abominable Snowman


Time taken





I am running these marathons to raise money for Mind. If you like what I’m doing and would like to donate you can go to my Just Giving page below.