The Carsington water half marathon
I run a lot more than I blog.
It makes sense that I do many more training runs than posts, but what I mean is that I run epic, stunning races and then never pen the experience.
My first marathon? I have pictures but no first-hand account. For the Lucerne half marathon, my first race in Switzerland, I have a draft, but I never completed it. I also never wrote about an amazing running retreat in the Austrian Alps.
This doesn’t happen because I don’t make time or don’t feel like writing, but because I fear my words won’t live up to reality.
I also worry that people who shared the experience with me might think my writing does not really do it justice.
The Carsington water half marathon
This race was in major danger of not being put to paper since it was simply fantastic.
For fear of never, ever writing about it, here is a simple report that cannot, and does not try, to do the day justice.
The race was held at Carsington water reservoir in Derbyshire in the UK. It was a lovely hilly loop around a lake.
I listen to a podcast called Marathon Talk and attended their annual run camp weekend in February. The half marathon race was part of the camp’s many running activities and for me, it meant running on tired legs.
Since I’m training for an ultra marathon, this race fitted well as a long-run between a marathon and a 30 km training run. Ever cautious, I decided to not go out too fast an instead focus on chatting to known and newly acquainted Marathon Talker listeners.
The 10 km was an out and back, while the half marathon was out, lap around the lake, out and back.
If that sound confusing, just bear with me for a paragraph: From the start 1), you run clockwise around the lake 2). When you pass the start at 12 km, you continue for a second lap 3) around the lake, but do a U-turn at 16 km 4) and run back 5) to the start/finish 6).
While this might sound overly complicated, it was extraordinary. When I passed 12 km and started my second lap, the first man passed me on his way to the finish. This meant from there I faced every single person in the race in front of me. Then I got to the turnaround point and ran past everyone behind me.
In a normal race that would be quite interesting, but in this race, it was especially special. I knew dozens of people from the camp, and the ones I didn’t know personally were recognizable by their Marathon Talk shirts, so even if I couldn’t cheer them on by name, I could by association.
My race strategy of chatting to likeminded podcast listeners worked out much better than expected. I ran the first 6 km with an Austria Alps run camper and my only regret is not getting to know her better, sooner.
I then caught up with another runner who came over from Europe. She felt sick and had to pull out at the end of the first loop so I continued on my own. As soon she pulled out and I passed the start, I saw the race leader finish and then could watch every other runner race while I was still running. I could see the female race unfold, cheer and be cheered on and get feedback on my position.
One runner shouted that I was just behind the show’s comedian, so I made an effort to catch up with him and one of the host’s wives. It was surreal to run behind them and listening to the show’s normal banter, without headphones. By then I was feeling hot in my weather inappropriate leggings, but luckily he was an actual British celebrity and stopped by the volunteers for selfies. This helped me catch my breath now and then, and allowed me to hang on to this little group untill the finish.
This fuss-free, barefoot report cannot express the sentiments of hanging out with similarly obsessed people for the last 21 kilometers of a wonderful running themed weekend, but hopefully, it gave you a glimpse of what it is like to be part of this wonderful Marathon talk community!
I recommend you give this podcast a listen.
Photos all courtesy of Tanya Raab.
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