50/50 marathons

48. The New Forest Marathon

19th September 2020.

New Forest Marathon start

Total donations to Mind


The New Forest Marathon was canceled a while back, another victim of Covid. They hung on and hung on, getting all the necessary approvals to go ahead. It was all looking promising, but then I think there may have been a landowner who wouldn’t let it go across their land. The emails went out to say it was not going ahead. I felt for the organisers because they clearly had a bit of a ride to get all their ducks in a row. But it wasn’t to be.

But then, out of nowhere, I received an email to say it was back on! They hadn’t just given up on it, they worked like troopers to find a different location and route, all within the shortest time frame. The event was to be held on the St Giles House estate, near Wimborne.

For me, it was great to have another proper organised marathon to do, new land to explore. However, this past week hasn’t been a great week and I’ve been feeling wiped out for the entire time since last weekend’s marathon. They’ve all taken their toll, but the last few, in particular, have left me wiped out. So as I stood waiting for my race to start, I felt nothing but dread and tiredness.

To get the approval to go ahead there had to be loads of changes to how it’s usually run. There wouldn’t be a mass start, everyone was given an allocated start time. There were very few runners in the start village and everyone was keeping their distance. On the plus side, the toilets weren’t the usual massive queue to a stink fest!

New Forest Marathon race village
New Forest Marathon start area

My start was at 10:05, but it seemed they had started early. We all got called forward and directed through a funnel system to keep things single file. I was still trying to digest my surroundings and get the all-important start selfie, but before I knew it I was signaled to go.

Now, I’d like to say that I shot off like a majestic gazelle, but of course, I didn’t. I was running, of sorts, but it must have been painful to watch, it was certainly painful for me. I knew instantly that I was in for a rough one. I figured my only plan was to just keep moving forward and not to worry how slow I was going.

The course was essentially the half marathon route, only we had to go around twice. It was quite a nice course, all off-road through mainly forest trails. I wouldn’t call it hilly, but it had a few cheeky undulations that weren’t very nice.

There were no supporters along the route, but the marshals really made up for that, they were so encouraging as I passed.

I was aware literally from the start that I was struggling. I had to really work hard to keep the negative thoughts at bay. One part of me was saying to stop, you can’t finish, but there was a tiny part keeping me going, I kept reminding myself how far I’d come and that once this one was over I only had 2 to complete.

New Forest Marathon 2020
New Forest Marathon St Giles Estate

At mile 11 you run past the finish line, then you loop around a Forest for a bit before heading back to the finish to start lap two. That was harsh. I stopped in a portaloo (classy) sat down and tried to figure out a way to do this, without actually doing it. I could basically sit in that loo for a couple more hours and then jump back onto the final stretch to glory. Only there would be no glory. So I talked myself around, left the loo, and carried on. I managed another mile and a half before I came to the conclusion that I was finished. So that was it, I double backed and went to the car.

I sat there for a bit, had a drink and a peanut butter sandwich, and tried to call Caroline to tell her I was done. There was no coverage so I couldn’t get through. So I gathered my thoughts to try and figure out how I could still finish this at the Isle of Wight marathon on the 4th of October. I couldn’t think of a way! I must have only sat for no more than 15 minutes, it was such a relief to stop. But I was gutted.

I decided to carry on, so got out of the car and stumbled back to the point where I’d retired. The peanut butter sandwich had given me a bit of a boost. It took a while to get my legs working though, once you stop it doesn’t take long for the legs to seize. I guess you could say I had a second wind for a little bit, just enough to take me far enough away from the finish so that I wasn’t tempted to quit again.

The second lap was uneventful, it was just a case of gritting my teeth and pushing on as best as I could. The final hurdle was to get back around to the 24-mile mark. You could see and hear the finish as people completed their run, but I still had those final two miles! By now it was a case of running on the flat, but walking up any hills. Luckily, most of the last mile was downhill. In the distance stood The finish line, directly in front of St Giles House. This last stretch seemed to take forever. It reminded me of that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where that knight is charging towards the castle, but every time he looked up it seemed like he hadn’t got any closer!

Crossing the line was such a relief and I was so glad that I decided to continue. It’s far too easy to just give up while running a marathon.

New Forest Marathon Medal

Once I got home Caroline gave me a box to open. This is always the highlight of the marathons. I love the mystery, trying to figure out who it’s from. Inside, the box was full of delicious looking vegan treats, can’t wait to start pilling on the calories that were burned today. There was also an amazing medal, made of wood with my face etched onto it and the race number on my forehead. The finishing touch was a hand-knitted ribbon. The detail was beautiful. This was from the jolly lovely Aaron and Jo Rudd. Thank you so much guys. Such a nice way to finish the day. I will treasure it, the medal that is, I’ve already started tucking into the goodies 🐷








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. The current total is £4,150. Thank you so much to everyone who has made a donation.