Marathon Five – Bewl water marathon
I remember several months back when I started planning the marathons, this was the first one I secured. At the time I was thinking ‘running round a lake! That’ll be nice and flat no worries!’
Over the last few weeks having spoken to a number of people, those that have run The Bewl 15 and the half is previous years, I discovered this wasn’t going to be the pleasant flat course I thought it to be. Why I hadn’t read to description I don’t know, but nonetheless this was marathon number five.
My journey down to Bewl didn’t go without a hitch, as in the M25 a nasty stone decided to meet my windscreen, what started as an inch crack extended to a good three inches by the time I got to Bewl. Not the best start to the morning, let alone a marathon morning!
I got parked up and picked up my number. Only to be given if by a Petts Wood runner (rival club to Orpington Road Runners) but all was well just a friendly bit of banter. Toilet break and number pinning done, in went my bag. It was certainly a chilly morning. Gone were my thoughts that the nice flat course would also be my warmest run too! Couldn’t be more opposite.
I bumped into fellow Orpie Michael Bennett who at midnight the night before decided he’d run the marathon today! Madness! But great to see a friendly face with a couple of selfies done we headed towards the start line.
It was a chilly breezy wait at the start as the numbers gathered. All of us eager to get underway. After a quick pre race briefing we were underway. An expected start to the run as we had a short little climb that led up to the water for a little loop back through the start/finish line and up the climb again. This certainly thinned everyone out before we’d really got underway.
The course surface was hard going. Unsteady underfoot trail which looked to largely used by mountain bikes and horses. There were a fair few puddles to work round and lumpy little sections. I kept steady aware that once on the road it was going to be hilly. The aid station seem to come up quickly but they were definitely appreciated as it was hard going, great pit stop but it made it harder to get underway again.
Having been forewarned of the hills I knew roughly what was coming up. There were two long slow slog ups, followed by a nice down stretch followed by a evil up which made the stretches after that more bearable. A great flat open road section before returning back on the trail.
The mental challenge, of which there were many, were the little out and back sections as we worked our way round the little legs of the lake. The leg back to half way mark felt like an eternity. And what didn’t help the mental challenge were the super speedy half marathoners who started an hour after us started to fly past us. An extra hill thrown in about a mile out of the first lap was hard going but the real battle was the aid station at the finish line. The half marathoners were getting cheered in as they finished, but us mad lot had to crack on with another lap. A quick drink and flapjack, head down and crack on.
It had warmed up a lot by the second lap. And by this point I was walking up the hills to conserve the energy. I tagged along with a fellow race for the vest runner, Rachel, which was perfect as the miles slipped by. The run walk strategy was well in effect and in was working. I’m very thankful to Rachel for getting me round the second half.
More company arrived about two miles out from the finish with the other half and son meeting me. This was a great little boost although at the time I think we were on walk-walk-get-legs-going-plod strategy. The 5hrs 30mins Mark had gone by but as we entered back into the Bewl estate I got a second wind and picked up the pace aiming to get under 5hrs 40 which I scraped by about 20 seconds with a downhill finish.
I was relieved I finished by that point. It was certainly more challenging than I thought it would be.
Also published on Medium.