Having watched from afar, as what seemed to be most of HERC run Bournemouth marathon, feeling very jealous and googling which marathon to attempt next, my decision was made earlier than I had initially anticipated!! Tiernan posted that a place had become available at Abingdon so with less than a week to go I jumped at the chance!! The reality struck and other than my husband I didn't tell anybody other than people who had read the post on the HERC facebook page! Mainly as I knew what the response would most likely be and didn't want any doubt to creep in! My father had already advised me to give up running that week; my mums response to the idea of a triathlon was, 'Oh no!' so with that in mind I kept things quiet.
Anyhows, race day arrived, the journey to Abingdon went smoothly with the mandatory selfie in car taken we found ourselves at the start. Organisation was fantastic with approximately 1000 entrants there were no queues! Yes you read correctly no queues for the toilets, no queues for the bag drop, no queues for the last minute panic trip to the toilet yet again! Also, as the start was at a sports centre there was not a single porta loo in sight, the facilities were clean, showers afterwards were warm and again no queues!!
Stood on the start line on the track we were left waiting only a few minutes before we were on our way. As Matt left me in his wake he called back, "Something to think about over the 26 miles could you write a race review?' So over the next 4 hours I tried to look around and remember things in order to share my experience.
The course as a whole had a small part followed by a loop which you ran twice before heading back to the Sports centre. The course was varied from on road, off road, muddy paths, cobbles - you had to keep your wits about you as it varied often and towards the end having to go up and down pavements when your legs were tired was agony. There were some lovely country views through farm land but with that came little protection from the wind which was difficult running up the slight incline on the second loop. Also, having to run through an industrial estate a second time was tedious but overall it was an enjoyable course not my favourite and I wouldn't rush back but I'm pleased I completed it. It taught me my body is stronger than I first thought, that I can overcome my asthma when it plays up and that anything is possible if you're determined enough! It wasn't my fastest, it wasn't the prettiest ( one of my photos made me look like a bedragledwitch where the wind took over my hair!) but I know I can accomplish things when I put my mind to them.
As I headed back towards the stadium I spotted some of the HERC runners, the first people I knew over the entire course, I entered the stadium and being able to see the finish was like Chinese torture as you had to run round the track before crossing the line! The finish was most welcome, the medal awarded by the local beaver scouts and a neon running shirt will be put to use on these dark evenings. This was a well organised local race, With only 1000 runners it was quiet and lonely I often found myself running on my own, the support was sparse but where there was support it was enthusiastic and appreciated. Due to this it required a lot of inner strength and determination.
The race had a 5 hour cut off so attracted fast athletes as we left we saw the people behind the cut off car and I really hope they still received a medal. People who wore headphones were disqualified so this race is not for everyone but if you want a challenge it's worth a trip up to Oxfordshire.
This will not be my last marathon, like I said I am becoming a marathon addict, I've already registered for Brighton next year and entered the moonwalk 2015 but in future I will make sure my family will be there to support me. I missed a friendly face to look out for so roll on Sunday and the Great South Run hopefully I will have recovered enough to enjoy it!