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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hastings 100th Anniversary Marathon 2008 - My Race Report

As I drove to the area on Saturday afternoon like many runners in the wet and windy conditions, praying that it would not be like this in the morning.

On Saturday night about a dozen of us had met for a meal unsurprisingly at an Italian restaurant. Although someone was risking having a non-pasta meal the night before the marathon which it took them 3 attempts to cook.

On Sunday morning it was cool but dry. However speaking to a few people who drove there on the morning they said it was foggy in places on the way in, but I thought it should clear by the time we start.

As the whole theme was 100th anniversary there was a car from 1908 at the start and a lot of the marshals where dressed up in clothes from that era.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

There was a military band at the start with a couple of more at various points on the course.
Band at Start
The changing rooms were in the town hall which I think is a first for any race I have been to.
Hastings Town Hall

Then I met up with a bunch of pirates and RW forumites before the start. I don’t remember seeing any of these again during the race. There was even a person wearing a norwich city top I felt sorry for him and I had a quick chat to him, being an Ipswich Town supporter.
Bunch of Pirates

The race started on time I think by the mayor but I was round the corner from the start line so I was unable to see if this was the case. The course was following as close as possible the 1908 race (it was just 25 miles). The 2008 race had virtually two laps of the town centre before heading out, although we where lapped after reaching 3/4 of a lap point for turn off. There was plenty of support at the section near the start line in the town centre despite it being before the shops opened. There was a marshal at the top of the town section dressed in a 1900’s policeman’s clothes with a fake moustache, which made me chuckle both times I saw him. Apparently there was one taxi driver who decided to try and go down the closed road when there was over 1,000 runners on the road but the marshal’s soon stopped them. I was  planning to use a run/walk method from the start although I did run the laps around the town centre but then went to the planned routine of running and walking at frequent scheduled intervals.

Then for the next few miles there was a steady climb with the rare flat sections, until a noticeably steeper climb at 3 miles. By this point the runners became more spread out after the faster start section round the town centre.

Once we got out of town centre the fog became denser and was noticeably colder in places. There were plenty of undulations for the next few miles and luckily there was some pleasant countryside to look at through the mist. This section we went from the closed roads to running on the narrower footpaths.
Run in the fog
View throught the fog
Running uphill in the fog

Then at about 7 miles about a dozen Santa’s on motorbikes rode out of the mist!! I had run a 5km the previous week dressed as Santa but I had not seen any Santa’s on motorbikes before.
Santas on Motorbikes!!

Then running through Battle we went along the outside of the wall and then past the front of the abbey where there was quite a few supporters , a drinks station and another band. After going through the village there was more rolling countryside which looked like it was the famous battle area after having a quick look at a footpath sign.
Battle Countryside

Around this section of the course the sections that we were crossing the roads were expertly marshalled by the Army, no drivers would dare disobey them or give them any verbal abuse like they seem to question other marshals.

On the route there was plenty of drink stations which had lucozade sport and water, there was a couple of gel station and few that had tea/coffee. I was glad of having a hot cup of tea in a few places when I was starting to get a bit cold. As I knew the sports drink were about every 5 miles I only took a few gels and an energy bar with me. The sports drink was in bottles or pouches so could be carried further along sipping them occasionally but the other drinks were in cups so I drunk those that I had near the aid stations.

The next 6 miles or so was on roads/paths on the outskirts of Hastings. This was the most boring part of the route as it was like most runs around a town and it was starting to get a bit cooler and muscles fatiguing. Although I was surprised as there was some support in places along this section.

Once we got to the promenade there was just over 6 miles to go. Strategically placed at end of the promenade was a toilet, luckily the council had not made it a paid facility which was nice to briefly get out of the cold.
Start of Promenade

Then we ran past Bexhill-on-Sea which we were informed of a couple of times at the start of the race is the home of motor racing in UK.

It was quite a bit too cold for a dip in the sea to the right although the stony beach did remind me of the Ironman Nice start earlier this year where there were also a lot of pirates. At this part I knew I was getting close to the finish and was concentrating on keeping my run/walk strategy although it was starting to get harder with my legs becoming more fatigued.
Stony Beach
Beach Hut

For each hill in the last 6 miles each marshal seemed to think they were at the “last” hill, I think the last hill was at 22 miles on the cliff top which was nice and refreshing.
Last Hill

However when I got to the top I could still not see the finish but could see the cafe aid station where I had a cup of tea and toasted sausage sandwich to take away. It was good to have something warm and was not just pure sugar like the last few hours.
Down to the Beach
Cafe Stop on the Beach

From here was a section along the beach which was packed stones although there was a noticeable path worn away. It was nearly a mile around a headland and the following beach next to a railway line.
Start of Beach Section
Headland on Beach

End of Beach Section

Near the end of the beach section there was some boats on beach I thought we should have had a pirate flag on them for the race.
Boats on the Beach

After this we joined the promenade again and when I could see the pier in the distance I knew that the pier was just 1 mile from the finish.
Pier in the Distance

I think it was from this point I stopped the walking phase and picked up my pace a bit. I was gradually overtaking a few runners on this last section and nobody overtook me. I ended up with a chip time of just under 5 hours which I was pleased with due to the course and the lack of training of the last few months following an injury.

At the end you got a commemorative 100th anniversary horse brass, yet another lucozade sport plus a foil blanket to keep warm.
With Finisher Horse Brass

I then head back to car park hoping to remember where I had parked some 7 hours earlier. After I got changed in to something dry and warm and had some well deserved seafront chips there was still some runners out on the course past the 5:30 hours cut-off they had mentioned.

I think one of the last to complete the course was the rhino, although he did get a lot of support when I saw him in the first few miles and at the end.
The Rhino Finishing

This was a challenging but a good course hopefully they will not leave it another 100 years before the next marathon.
The Horse Brass

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