50/50 marathons

40. The Wonder Woman Dash

12th July 2020.

The start

So, I’ve made it to the 40th marathon! I felt the need to do something to mark the occasion and also to try and give the charity donations a bit of a boost. A friend had been adding Wonder Woman gifs as comments to my Facebook posts, and so the Wonder Woman Dash was born. This seemed like a great idea at the time. I offered to run the 40th marathon dressed as Wonder Woman if I could get the donations to over £1500. In no time the donations hit that target and so I was committed to my promise!

First things first, find a costume. A good friend donated a costume that sadly was a bit on the tight side, so Caroline got on the case and found a costume with all the bits and bobs to go with it. So now I was good to go. All that I needed was a route.

I could have found a quiet route, but I felt I should probably go for maximum visibility and complete humiliation, plus I was told that some people might want to run for a bit with me. The route was a simple 4 lap loop around Cowes and Gurnard. It involved running through Cowes and the Parade, but it also had a few nasty hills. Winding Way from the seafront up into Gurnard was the first, short, but very sharp. Rew street is a gentle climb that seems to go on forever, but the best/worst is the dreaded Pallance Road. This hill makes an appearance at the 24-mile mark of the Isle of Wight Marathon. But for some reason, I thought it would be good to have it appear 4 times, possibly a mistake! From Pallance it was downhill back into Cowes High Street. It was funny to see the confused looks on people as we passed through. Just a regular Sunday morning in Cowes.

Amazing Support

One thing I hadn’t really prepared for was the amazing amount of support that I got. It really was quite humbling to see people there to support me along the way. Right from the start as I left my house, some friends were there to run with me. My friend, Wayne Cranwell, dressed in a Ninja Turtle outfit, which was brilliant, because it took a bit of the heat off of me as we ran along. I know he suffered for it as well. Gemma Swain was also there to run the first lap. We met Simon Lilly from the Red Jet ferry and he ran along for two laps. My recollection thereafter of who joined us at what point is a bit vague, but I had company for every lap. Beverley-Jo Fisher, Guy Boorman, Mark Bailey, and also Waynes Wife Nicola ran for a bit with their son. Rob Hunter breezed along 3 of the laps with me including the terrible last lap. We were also joined by Peter and Jodie Willmot on the last lap. These guys are fantastic runners, so I felt really bad that I was in such bad shape from the point that they tagged along.

Along with the running support, my friend Toby Collard had put out a Facebook group post to have a bit of a gathering on the Green along Cowes Seafront. This acted as a base for a nice bunch of people. I think I would have preferred to have been there enjoying the sun with them all, rather than running around. Each lap they cheered and gave me a real boost. It was lovely to see so many friendly faces. Caroline was based there with a supply of water and food as well.

Further along, there were more friendly faces, I even saw my Dad at one point, it’s still a bit of a blur! Simon Chambers was there at each lap on Solent View Road with some water and ice cubes. He’s done many a grueling run himself, so he knew what to do. At the very top of the beast that is Pallance Road, Jo and Aaron Rudd had set up a water station with an incredible hand made sign. This became a focal point on each lap because getting up Pallance is such a mission and the heat of the day was getting to me, so the sight of their house was a much-needed respite.

Wonder Woman with Gemma Swain
Hero in a half shell
Second lap
Team Wonder Woman

The last lap

The last 6 miles of any marathon is always the worst. Today was probably the worst of all of them so far. I don’t know what it was but I was in a terrible state from the moment we started the last lap. I can only assume it was down to the heat of the day that made it so hard. As I ran along the parade past the group of supporters to start that final lap I could feel the tingling in my hands and legs that I’ve felt many times before as the blood moved to essential organs. When this happens, I’m generally done for. I was spinning out so badly. At one point along Rew Street, I collapsed in a heap on the floor, I was so dizzy that I literally couldn’t see. I managed to get back up and stagger on for a bit longer. I felt quite self-conscious and a bit of a let down to the friends running with me. Rob, Jodie, Pete and Mark Bailey (for a second lap). They were all great. I think without them there I would have quit, but their encouragement kept me going. Pete even dashed off to go and get a gel from home for me. He probably liked the chance to have a proper run.

I was dreading the prospect of going up Pallance on that last lap, even walking was tough, my head was spinning so badly. Yet again, I collapsed in a heap on the side of the road and was sick. I’m positive the real Wonder Woman wouldn’t do this! Strangely I felt a tiny bit better after that and Pete had made it back with an electrolyte drink for me. This pepped me up just enough to continue. The Rudd pit stop was there with a hose to refresh me at the top of Pallance and then from there it was just a case of getting back down to the Green where I could finally collapse.

The finish

The marathon actually finished at the bottom of Mill Hill Road. I checked my Runkeeper app to confirm this, only to find that it had stopped very early on in the run, so hadn’t recorded it! It’s fine though as there were enough witnesses. I did try to run as much of this last bit as possible but kept on having to stop to walk for a bit. Reaching the end was a huge relief. My support crew had set up a ribbon across the path for me to go through, a brilliant gesture. I wish I could have been in a better state to chat with my friends at the end but unfortunately, I threw myself onto the grass and curled up in a very unglamorous heap. I can only assume I must have looked like someone on a stag do that was somewhat worse for wear. I have a vague memory of Richard Quigley putting a tigger medal around my neck. Thank you Richard 🙂

The whole idea of running this marathon as Wonder Woman was to give the donations to Mind a boost. I’m thrilled to say the donations are currently £2,459! Thank you so much to all the people who have donated. In these tough times, it really is great that people can still support charities, like Mind who will, no doubt, be having a hard year. The support they offer to people suffering from mental health issues is now, more than ever, so important to continue.

Starting the third lap
The finish
Wonder Woman

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.