With a marathon you run it, knowing it will hurt and that’s part of the fun of running, to embrace this challenge, it requires you to get comfortable being outside of your comfort zone which is easy in theory. But this race reminded me of the importance of humility in the pursuit of being the best version of yourself.
This was the first marathon I got heat stroke and it was the kind support from a fellow runner called Steve that got me to the finish line. He saw me struggling and said something along the lines of “this is your last lap, the finish line is only there, I’ve got one more lap to go. Run with me and we’ll get you there.”
It’s easy to give it the big I am, but in someway we all need some like Steve, as summed up in the African Proverb below. He helped me when I needed it and I can’t thank him enough.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
It was a very tough race and below is my honest view of it.
This is my first experience of having heat stroke. Although I’ve witnessed other runners, stumbling in a disorientated fashion, or being attended to by medics, I didn’t really understand it fully as I hadn’t experienced it.
It’s like being drunk whilst running. I felt confused, disorientated, off balance, sick and felt light headed to the point of wanting to faint. At the finish line the left hand side was cordoned off for the finishers and despite seeing this on every lap, and my wife telling me to go to the left I still managed to go to the right.
In Paris I ran a slower first half and was consistently slower than my race pace, whereas for the Kent Circuit Marathon I ran the first half at race pace and slower towards the end as heat stroke kicked in. Although both results were sub 4 hour marathons, I finished Paris quicker going at a steady and slower pace in the heat. It’s a fine balance between running sensibly in the heat and wanting to push myself, as I learn from this experience in the future.
On the organisers website this race is described as “Great PB potential, good for age for VLM.”
It is an undulating course with 21 laps. For 20 laps there is a sharp ascent and descent which makes it difficult to maintain a consistent and steady pace whilst racing.
I think the claims of a PB potential course are misleading, and the race results back this up. Good for age qualification for the London Marathon 2018 for my eligibility section is as follows. Men aged 18-40 have to run the same time, or faster than 3:05. For the Kent Circuit Marathon only 5 men in this age range achieved this out of the total 257 runners that finished or 1.94%.
If you do want to run a UK PB course, this isn’t the one to do, my top choice would be the Greater Manchester Marathon, it has a flatter course, and its early in the year providing cooler temperatures better suited to running fast.
Below is a comparison of the elevation gain in metres (m) over a marathon distance as noted from my garmin race data:
- Greater Manchester Marathon 71m
- Kent Circuit Marathon 296m
The results are also similar in comparison to elevation loss (m).
- Greater Manchester Marathon 76m
- Kent Circuit Marathon 298m
The days leading up to the race were very warm in comparison to the earlier weeks. The early miles of the race were ideal, overcast with light rain. Unfortunately this cleared up very quickly and it became very hot.
The natural landscape of the Cyclopark’s path is picturesque, although it is a traffic free route, its exposed so you were running in direct sun. At one particular point of each lap was a strong headwind, which was brutal as the laps progressed. Think of a less extreme version of Michael Jacksons Earth Song Video, whilst you feel epically like Rocky running into the wind early on, it’s not so fun later in the race.
Although the weather isn’t in the control of the organisers, I think they can improve on how they deal with hot weather in the future. Each lap was over a mile and there was a manned water station, where the volunteers did a great job. There were visible ambulance staff on site.
There was a water sponge station, one area of improvement could be the inclusion for cooling water spray stations, which they had at both the Paris and Tokyo marathons and the Hackney Half marathon I ran this year.
I cannot fault all the work ethic of the volunteers who did a fantastic job, whilst getting sun burnt like the runners. There was one particular gentleman called Les, who clapped and encouraged myself and other runners lap after lap.
For a small marathon, it definitely shows up some of the bigger races in terms of race bling. Although the medal is large, it is very well designed and a lot of thought went into it, in terms of the historical references to Pocahontas and her links to Kent.
Also the goody bag, and other products from medal engraving where on point.
Would I run it again:
If I was aiming for a PB or a good for age target then no, I’d run the Greater Manchester Marathon. And it’s not until I’ve run a undulating multiple lap marathon that I realised that lapped marathons definitely aren’t for me. I think a point to point Marathon is my preference in racing and in training.
GPS watches aren’t always 100% reliable however I ran well over the marathon distance at approx 26.9 miles according to my garmin. Although there will always be an aspect of dodging and weaving through traffic, however it was very easy to run my own race with several hundred runners and a wide track, which kept this to a minimum.
However in all the marathons I’ve run including world marathon majors, where I’ve had to weave in crowds of thousands, or had my GPS impacted by skyscrapers I’ve never run so much over the marathon distance in all my fifteen marathons. I don’t believe the course distance for this marathon was accurate.
But despite my gripes above, the time is what it is. But overall I have to take responsibility for myself, and review what worked and what didn’t.
I’m disappointed that I couldn’t build on my recent half marathon PB and although I didn’t achieve my sub 3:30 goal in this race, I’ll learn from this experience and will come back stronger for Chicago as I take on the board the advice below.
- Thanks to ASICS for supplying me with kit and the new GEL-DS 22 trainers.
- Thanks to Science in Sport for the supporting my nutrition needs. You can get 10% off your orders using the code: AMB10MBN
- Thanks to Enertor global for the performance insoles. You can get £10 off Enertor Performance Insoles, using the code: MARCUS10
- Thanks to Steigensport for providing the Stars and Stripes socks, as I get ready to run the Chicago marathon.