50/50 marathons

33. Not the Edinburgh Marathon

May 24th 2020.

Crazy lockdown hair

The cancellations continue and my lockdown hair is going rogue!

This weekend should have been spent exploring Edinburgh and then taking part in the Edinburgh Marathon. I’ve never done this one before and was looking forward to it. It has been postponed to later in the year, so there is still a bit of hope that I’ll get to do it. that being said, I heard that the Dublin marathon has now been cancelled and that should have been October, that now puts the rest of the marathons in this 50 marathon challenge in the firing line!

All of the marathons that have been put back to next year leaves me with a predicament. I’ve paid for the event and in some cases pre-booked travel and accommodation. It comes to a chunk of money. In a few cases I’ve been able to get a refund or partial refund. But in most cases they don’t give refunds, only a place for the new date or the following year.

I won’t lie, really don’t want to do any marathons next year. After this challenge I want to sit and rest, eat pie, take up surfing again, anything but run! So I either lose the money or bite the bullet and run them. Neither are appealing to me.

I do however understand the problem faced by race organisers. The big marathons will bounce back, but I do fear for the smaller races. These are the guys that will suffer and possibly not rebound next year. I hope they do, because they keep a thriving community of runners going throughout the year.

This challenge has included big marathons with thousands of entrants, such as the Athens Marathon, races of a mid range with several hundred entrants, such as Beachy Head. And then there’s the really low key ones that may only have about 50 runners. The Brett Owler Marathon only had about 30 people! They will all be feeling the pinch. I dare say next year’s calendar will be massively reduced.

So asking for my entry fee to be refunded is an ethical dilemma. It’s no one’s fault that we’re in this situation, but someone will lose out. In most cases it has been me, but there have been some who have kindly given me a refund.

Anyway, wasn’t I supposed to be talking about marathon 33, rather than banging on about cancelled races?

Todays route

Todays route

Yesterday was really windy, so I opted to run today. Still windy, but better. I had been given a route suggestion by a friend that seemed ok so that became my plan.

I started from home and yet again headed down the cycle track to Newport. I felt pretty good and was able to keep a steady 8:30 pace. My Achilles were killing me, but generally I felt strong.

From Newport I continued on to Shide to join the Red Squirrel Trail all the way to Sandown. I had previously run this route on marathon 29. It’s a nice flat route that offers some shade and by now it was hot.

Red Squirrel Trail
Red Squirrel Trail
Red Squirrel Trail, Merstone Station

The Coastal Path

It works out about 14 miles into Sandown and I intended to keep my pace at least until I got there. That’s when it all started to go pear shaped.

At Sandown beach I headed west, straight into a strong head wind. It wasn’t long before my pace really started to drop.

Running along the seafront all the way into Shanklin was all flat and, apart from the wind, quite pleasant. There was a lot of people around enjoying the sun and being allowed back to the beach. Generally speaking everyone was observing the safe distance rule. All apart from older people, they seem quite blasé about it! But I won’t go there.

At the end of the seafront the good time’s ended and the hills really kicked in. Firstly up by Shanklin Chine and then once through the old village the beast that is Cowleaze hill looms.

Sandown Beach
between Sandown and Shanklin

The nemesis!

Cowleaze Hill is not for the feint hearted. I’d previously tackled it on marathon 24 and I didn’t like it then, so why I was back to do it again one can only wonder? There was a lady struggling up the hill on her bike, she spurred me on. I had to beat her! Anyone that competes knows that situation. No matter what level you’re at you will always have a nemesis that needs to be crushed.

I always remember a friend of mine telling me about his nemesis the first time we did the London Triathlon. For him it was a fat lad on a mountain bike. My friend had a skinny vest and a pair of Speedos on, and a nice speedy road bike. So there was no way he would be beaten by a fat lad on a mountain bike. I think he was, but I’m not 100% sure on the facts.

So for me, this little old lady struggling up Cowleaze Hill on her sit up and beg bike with a basket on the front suddenly became my mortal enemy and I vowed to leave her in my dust as I shuffled with my tongue hanging out up the beast.

At several points we were neck and neck, which was awkward, we resorted to shrugging our shoulders and giggling uncomfortably at each other. She told me that I was very good at running up hills and that was what I needed to surge past her. I got to the top triumphant only to realise it wasn’t the top, beyond the brow of the hill it continued. My last surge had taken everything I had, which wasn’t much. I had to watch in horror as she instantly passed me with a friendly wave!

Finally at the top I started the descent into Ventnor. But I decided to go down through the Bonchurch Landslip.

For anyone that wants a nice walk, this one is a beauty, it’s like stepping back into prehistoric Ventnor. It is a very steep downhill route, with loads of things to trip up on, so I took it carefully. By now my legs were in pain and weren’t responding as I’d have liked. I took several wrong turns and at points just ended up on a cliff edge looking out to sea, having to backtrack up the hill was no fun.

View from the top of Cowleaze Hill
Bonchurch Landslip
Bonchurch landslip

Bloody hills!

Eventually I negotiated my way out at Bonchurch seafront and back into the howling wind all the way along the coastal path, through Ventnor and on towards Steephill Cove.

I love this place, it reminds of something out of The Goonies. Normally this would be a great place to walk to and have a Coffee from one of the little cafes. Not today, the place was deserted. As the name suggests, there is a very steep hill in and a steep one out. This route seemed like a great idea at the time, but I was suffering.

Beyond Ventnor I followed the under cliff road through St Lawrence. There was a land slide here a while ago, making it impossible to drive all the way through, but good for walking, running and Cycling. The road was empty and shaded. Only the sound of the birds twittering away to keep you company. Under different circumstances this would be lovely, but I was shuffling along so slowly. My legs had long since given up and the familiar spinney feeling was taking over. My legs and fingers were tingling as the blood was going to vital organs. Luckily I was on the final mile.

Between Ventnor and Steephill Cove
Steephill Cove

Where’s a good pub when you need one?

I finished in Niton at the White Lion pub. Craving a drink but everything was closed. Luckily I wasn’t there long before Caroline came to the rescue with a bottle of Lucozade.

So that’s 33 down, only 17 more to go. Will I get to run anywhere else but the Isle of Wight? Who knows. I’m lucky because it is a lovely place to be locked down in, if only it wasn’t so bloody hilly.

Once home Caroline handed me a bag. This is my favourite part of these marathons. The friends that have stepped in with home made medals is such a brilliant boost. Inside the bag was a record sleeve of an album by Santana called Marathon. I pondered over it for a while trying to guess who it was from. I guessed correctly at my friend Wayne Cranwell. His wife Nicola made last weeks amazing medal.

Inside the record sleeve was the record cut into the shape of a 33, to be played at 33 RPM of course. Inspired! Another treasure to the collection of wonderful medals. I owe a lot of beers when we finally come out of this.

Medal 33







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.