50/50 marathons

46. Run The Wight Marathon

30th August 2020.

Bembridge start

Last week’s ‘Bad Idea Marathon’ left me pretty drained all week. I’ve had a few that have taken a while to shake off, but that one stuck with me all week. This made it difficult to focus on anything, least of all planning the next marathon.

So what do you do when you’ve had a whupping. Lay down in a dark room and cry is the gut instinct, but instead, I chose to take on the Walk the Wight route! Only I was going to run it. Yep, stupid I know. I have run this before. Back in 2010, I did a similar thing to what I’m doing now, only then it was 40 events and it wasn’t just marathons, it was a mix of events, triathlons, marathons, sea swims, there was even a Santa run. But one of the events was to ‘run’ the Walk The Wight route. I ran with Ritchie (same chap from last week) and if I remember rightly we both moaned about it at the time because of how hard it was. And I distinctly recall, as we sat in a pub afterward, that we said we wouldn’t be that stupid again. To this day Ritchie, to the best of my knowledge has kept his word. I on the other hand am clearly not as clever.

The decision to do the route was a last-minute panic the night before. I had run out of ideas and that was the conclusion that I came to! Truth is, I didn’t want to run at all, but with 5 marathons left to do, I just got on with it.

I remember thinking much earlier this year, how I felt I could start to relax a bit when I got to 5 left. But instead, it’s been the opposite, it strangely feels more daunting, I mean, after all, it is still 5 marathons.

The Walk the Wight route cuts literally right through the middle of the Island, from Bembridge, all the way across to the other side, finishing at Alum Bay. It’s always easy to look at a route in a map and think, ‘that’s doable’. But one thing I’m painfully aware of is just how hilly this little Island is.

From Bembridge, the hills start straight away, climbing up onto Brading Down. As always the views make up for the effort. Especially on a day like today, sunny, with a few patches of cloud. Quite windy, but it was a side wind for the entire route, not quite as energy-sapping as a head-on wind.

From Brading, I cut down through Knighton. This patch is quite lovely, a rare flat part before being thrown back into Hill territory, going through Arreton and onwards up onto St George’s Down. There were a lot of similarities on this route with last week’s. But I had run most of these paths several times by now. Variety was a thing of the past. On the plus side, I am developing a good knowledge of some of the lesser trodden paths on the Island.

Brading Down
St Georges Down

From St George’s Down, I ran around the paths that circle Newport and lead on to Carisbrooke, this is all quite hilly area, but nothing compared to the long uphill struggle up on to Tennyson Down. That path just seems to go up and up, the strange thing is that last week I ran it the other way and it seemed then that the hills were none stop. I guess it’s just fatigue, so even having to run up a slight bump feels like climbing a mountain.

There are pros and cons to running a route that you know well. On the pro side, you know where you’re going and how far you have to go. But on the con side, you know where you are and how far you have to go. In this case, I also knew exactly what was in store. Sure, there are a few downhill stretches, but whenever there’s a down there’s always a really horrible up to balance things out.

There’s a lot to be said for taking on routes that you don’t know anything about. You have no clue what’s in store, so you can bumble on, safe in the knowledge that you have no knowledge of the route, every uphill or downhill is completely new. Mentally, I find that a much better place to be. Ignorance is bliss.

So yes, the Tennyson trail is littered with hills and the downhills are no easier as by then, everything hurts. One thing that most marathon runners will agree upon is the pain of the down stretches are often worse than going up.

But of course, this trail saves its secret weapon right until the end. After heading down past the golf course and through Freshwater Bay, the real sting in the tail looms. The climb up to the Tennyson monument. I struggle just walking up here, especially when I’m over 24 miles in.

Once at the monument, I toyed with the idea of sitting down to catch my breath, but as luck would have it, the monument was surrounded by tourists and walkers. I stumbled on, safe in the knowledge that the last stop at Alum Bay wasn’t far. I could have taken on another hill and gone down from Headon Warren, but instead, I took the much easier section around that last hill, much more civilised. Plus I was running on fumes, why make it any harder after a route like that?

Tennyson Trail looking towards Freshwater Bay
Tennyson Monument

I had arranged for a pick up from Caroline at Alum Bay. But it was so busy, the queue for the car park was backed up quite away. My brother was down for the day with his boys and I had hoped to meet them all there, but there was no chance. I’d completely forgot that it was a bank holiday and it was likely to be busy.

Once in the safety of home, showered and feeling a bit more human, Caroline handed me a box, emblazoned with the number 46. Inside was another amazing hand made medal, a gold star with the number 46 on it. This was made by my good friend Alex Hedley. I may not enjoy the marathons themselves, or at least the last few miles, but I really look forward to the secret medal at the end.

4 more to go! But what’s really nice is that I have a surprise week off next week. I had figured that I only had two weeks that I could miss to still do it within the year, but apparently I was wrong. I’m hoping this extra week will give me the much-needed rest to complete this thing on October 4th.

The donations to Mind are now just over £3600! This is amazing. There is still enough time to try and hit £5000 if I can. 😁

Finish at Alum Bay
46 medal







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.