50/50 marathons

45. Bad Idea Marathon

23rd August 2020.


I’ve had many bad ideas in my life. This weekend’s marathon was just another one of those. The Bad Idea Marathon is basically a rerun of what should have been Marathon 44, but the heat got the better of me then and I pulled out at 17 miles. Having now run it, I can safely say that it wasn’t just the heat, but the route itself that caused me so much discomfort.

It’s easy to plot a route. I have an app that does it, all I need to do is draw a line and it cleverly snaps into a path or road. Then I blindly follow it! What it doesn’t do is alert me when I’ve chosen a stupid route. That would be a good feature.  This has led to many a pickle!

Originally when I plotted the route I was doing it as a night run and visiting apparently haunted locations of the Isle of Wight. That was the only criteria. However, if I’d have looked closer I would have seen that the route had climbs up onto St George’s Down, then Chillerton Down, followed by Mottistone Down and finally Tennyson Down! That’s a lot of climbing. Fine on fresh legs, but my legs are far from fresh. To put it into context, if my legs were fruit, they would be the bananas that you only use for making banana bread because they are essentially mush wrapped up in a brown skin! Yes, I know that bananas aren’t fruit, but you get what I mean?

On the plus side, it wasn’t a hot day, it was rather windy in fact. But I had the pleasure of the company of my good friend and fellow marathon runner Richie Harvey. He met me at the 10-mile mark, ready and raring to run the last 16 miles with me.

I made a slight alteration to the route from the last time I attempted it. I wanted to run from home so needed to take off a few miles. I didn’t do the section that goes along the downs road to Knighton. Instead, once I got to the end of Burnt House Lane, I turned right to Arreton and then joined a little path that goes up to the top of St George’s Down. Up here you get a great view that takes in the Arreton Valley and across Newport. Strangely there was a patch that had a couple of burnt out cars sat there. Not sure if this was a place where they do stock car racing or if they were just the remains of stolen joy ride cars? Either way, it gave the landscape a bit of a post-apocalyptic mad max sort of vibe!

Not far from the burnt out cars there’s a turning that takes you down a very steep section past Blackwater Quarry and then onto Blackwater itself. I’d arranged to meet Ritchie here. It was great to see him grinning at me as I approached. I hadn’t run with him for a while. We were supposed to be taking part in the Bruges Marathon together in October, but the current travel restrictions make this unlikely to happen.

St Georges Down

Normally, running with someone is a great way of keeping your mind off of the miles, and this was certainly the case for the first few miles. But it wasn’t long before I realised that I was struggling.

Chillerton down was the next uphill struggle of the route. I remember this well from the last time I tried it. I didn’t like it much that time either. The good thing with these climbs is that once you get to the top you can catch your breath and look around at the surrounding countryside, before plodding on to the next hill.

The last time I was at the top of Chillerton down it was dark and I got lost in a cornfield being freaked out at the slightest moth that brushed past me. This time I could clearly see where I went wrong. Onwards through Shorwell. From here we had a few miles of road, through Limerstone and Brighstone. By now I was in a lot of discomfort, my pace was sluggish at best. The wind was against us, making slow going, even slower. I was feeling bad for Ritchie as it was such slow going, he assured me it was no problem.

Running up onto Chillerton Down

Once through Brighstone, we headed on to Mottistone where we went back off road and up onto Mottistone Down. There’s a little path alongside Mottistone manor that winds its way up. By day, this is a lovely walk, by night, this is spook central. Once at the top of this path you come out into an opening and there stands Mottistone Longstone. There is much conjecture about the goings on and history of the stones. The two stones are said to be symbolic of good versus evil. Growing up, there were always rumours of weirdness happening at the longstone, sacrifices, witchcraft and evil doings. In reality, it was a Neolithic burial site. This probably fuelled some of the stories you hear to this day. All that being said, it’s a nice place to go and have a walk around, but maybe just in daylight.

This was the turning point, now it was just a case of getting to the finish in Carisbrooke. I was not in the best of places, but tried my best to ignore how I was feeling. We trudged on, eventually coming out onto the delightfully named, but horribly steep, Strawberry Lane. By now I was at 18 miles. I was done. I kept on having to stop to walk, my legs were in agony and my Achilles felt like they were on the verge of snapping. I really thought I was going to fail at this route, again!

Once at the top of Strawberry Lane I had a decision, I could stop and get picked up, or I could continue up onto Tennyson Down, with the knowledge that once up there, there would be no pickup point until Carisbrooke, which was the end of the route anyway. So I moaned about it and trudged on grimly, knowing that I was committed.

Mottistone Longstone

The last few miles were nothing short of pitiful. I did a run-walk combination. My feet felt like lead, I could barely lift them to dodge stones in the path. I was dizzy and nauseous. It’s fair to say, I wasn’t enjoying myself here. I came to the conclusion a while back that I really don’t like marathon running, and frankly, I’m not very good at them. Today just cemented my feelings.

I won’t dwell on this one any longer. As I write this journal entry I’m not feeling too groovy. I feel like the teabag that’s been used to make several cups of tea on a building site. Washed out and squeezed of every drop of anything that was good.

Caroline came to the rescue (again). Once home I collapsed in a heap on the bed and fell asleep. I eventually woke up again a couple of hours later. Caroline gave me this week’s medal, this time from Jodie and Peter Wilmott. It was a felted version of our dog Winnie. A brilliant likeness and another fantastic addition to my collection of amazing homemade medals.

Felted Winnie medal
Winnie with the medal

5.28

Time

2,432ft

Elevation

2,998

Calories

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.