Report by Derren Sarginson
Well the day was finally here, May 6th 2012. The big one. My very first Marathon. GULP!!
Rewind 3 weeks and I was actually thinking I may not even toe the start line after all the training I’d put in I was getting really worried. Once again Mr. Injury had shown up in the form of pain in my upper left foot. I suspected a stress fracture so took myself off to Shotley Urgent Care unit for an x ray which revealed….NOTHING! The Doctor suggested it was probably tendonitis and that I shouldn’t run until it cleared up. Not what I wanted to hear really but at least it wasn’t broken.
I made do over the next couple of weeks with some long cycling and long sessions on our elliptical trainer, bloody boring as sin but at least I was doing something. With one week to go I tried out a few shorter runs and then an 8 miler and everything seemed to be working as it should once more.
Following all the usual advice I’d spent the last week carb loading and the reduced training load had me feeling quite fat and lethargic, which apparently, is perfectly normal at the end of a marathon taper. My final run before the BIG one was a gentle jog around Durham parkrun with some of the other Bounders which I really enjoyed and reminded me that I do actually enjoy running as the extended training program I’d been following was definitely losing its attraction!
Sunday arrived and nice and early I, Sara, Dan and Murphy all met up with Chris Boyd and set away to the Stadium of Light. Arriving in good time the cars were parked easily and we made our way over to the stadium to suss the lay of the land and see what was what.
We mingled with other runners in the start area in dare I say it, rather warm sunshine!
A great turnout from many of the North East clubs and loads of unaffiliated runners the event was clearly well attended. Bumping into Caroline B and Terri we were all starting to go a little quiet, obviously starting to focus on the task ahead.
A nice touch was a minute’s applause for the memory of Claire Squires, the runner who had tragically died in the London Marathon.
The lone wheelchair athlete was set away and then it was out turn.
Now I had really gone to town making myself a pacing band to wear on my wrist and to keep me to plan throughout the race. I found this very useful as all 3 other Bounders left me behind at the start. Every bone in my body screaming “Chase them” but my head saying “No!, stick to the plan” I could see Chis getting further away and still I had to focus on sticking to my pre-planned splits.
As the miles built I settled into my running and enjoyed the support of the crowds. The first feed station came into view and a packet of water was collected. Yes, that’s right a packet! It took me a little while to figure out how to dispense the water from within without choking but once I had the hang of it I found them much preferable to bottles. Shotz gel packs were available at some stations too but I was running with a supply of SIS gels as these are what I’d used in training. Other stations along the way featured ASDA own brand isotonic sports drinks so there was plenty to choose from.
Along the route I found the marshalling to be excellent and the Sunderland crowd although a bit thin in some sections were very supportive with many residents coming out to provide bananas and jelly babies and other refreshments.
I see some comments online of people saying it was a hilly course, which made me chuckle as a Consett runner, this course seemed positively flat for the most part. In particular I enjoyed the run past Hendon beach as the sun was beaming down and a cool breeze came in off the sea. Also the loop through Barnes Park and Roker Park were most enjoyable seeing the crowds enjoying the sunshine. One area I would like to see altered was a loop through the University Campus which was completely devoid of any character or spectators.
The final leg stretching the runners out up to Whitburn for a switchback to head for home, again with great views over the sea and a most welcome breeze. Approaching the Stadium of Light once more for the finish.
As I mentioned earlier my pacing plan worked for the most part, allowing me to catch and pass both Caroline and Chris but not Terri. I saw her heading back to the stadium as I was still on my way out to Whitburn, shouting encouragement across the road but she was head down with determination and focus all over her face powering on!
Mid race I had let my confidence let me go a little quicker than planned and I think this may have caught up with me around the 20 mile or so mark with cramp trying its very best in my left hamstring to scupper me but it never fully took hold thankfully. Also at around 18 miles I think I came very close to the wall but again never actually hit it as a handful of jelly babies from a spectator rescued me!
Approaching the finish line by the stadium I saw Sara and Dan cheering me and had to choke back an emotional gasp as I crossed the line in an official time of 3:44:42. Never before in a race have I felt so spent and so happy at the same time!
We were guided past the pitch to collect our medals, t-shirts and goody bags before re-emerging to our supporters. I quickly steered my crew into the massage tent so I could get a quick leg rub before getting the recovery compression gear on and heading for home.
All in all I thought it was a fantastic event, very well organized and very well supported. The weather too couldn’t have been much better without being too hot for running and it definitely helped with the crowds.
I look forward to running it again and I sincerely hope it grows to be as big a success as the Great North Run.
1st Male Paul Wilson 02:43:31
1st Female Catherine Young 03:25:08
Terri Cartmell 03:42:00
Derren Sarginson 03:44:42
Chris Boyd 03:53:19
Caroline Burdon 03:59:20