Running for the pies

Running for the pies

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

10th August: 54321 Again!

It's amazing what a a difference few weeks can make... I came back from my outing in Bath a tad despondent about my performance and how I could not find my running mojo on it. Between then and today I did not go out running at all, letting my legs rest, in particular my calf muscle, and went in to the Salisbury 54321 feeling fresh.

The day saw a weather warning over the whole of the British Isles for the arse-end of hurricane Bertha who had been raging out in the Atlantic and was hitting land, so we were to expect heavy rain and wind.

Driving in to Salisbury there were a couple of downpours en route and it was looking like it could be ideal running conditions for August by being overcast, not too hot and the occasional shower to cool us off.

This was all a huge contrast to last year with the temperature in the mid 20's with not a cloud in the sky.

After collecting my number I bumped into Moose who had entered the ultra in prep for his Marathon des Sables jaunt next spring and wished him all the best in his race.

Moose on the rampage.
All changed I waved-off the ultra runners before waiting at the start line for our marathon start. As we stood there the PA announced that Marathon Man was there ready to go, although perhaps a little slower than normal.

A soggy start.
Over the previous day the North Downs Way 100 ultra marathon had been staged, and with it being a marathon (or rather nearly 4x a marathon), and being held on a Saturday, in his inimitable gonzo style, Marathon Man had decided ‘I’ll have a bit of that’ and had run its full length in just under 24 hours… And after about 2 hours sleep here he was having been driven from the finish of that race in Kent to the start line of the 54321 here in Salisbury for his Sunday marathon.

After a couple of miles on the hill up to the castle, I caught up with him and ran beside him having a chat, mostly to help and keep him awake and his spirits up, as he was pretty much doing a good impression of a zombie, which was understandable having been on his feet for nigh on 36 hours at this point through his covering of the 100 miles! It was a pleasure being able to chat with him again on his record breaking journey - the 100 miler had been an interesting experience for him with hurricane Bertha in effect for part of the journey and the trail cutting-up under foot making it pretty treacherous because of all the rain.

Shortly after leaving marathon man behind (normally he’s way in front of me being a pretty quick runner, but the 100 miles might just have taken a little pace from his legs today), I bumped in to another legend of the marathon circuit: Brian Mills.

I haven’t seen Brian at a race in a while as he mostly runs on tarmac rather than trail, so I figured he must be closing in on 1,000 marathons - yep you read that right 1,000 marathons... I asked where he was at on the count, and today was number 998, with the big one happening in Longford two weeks hence. They were making him a race number of 1,000 for it. With that sheer number of events under his belt, I asked Brian what he has done with all his race numbers etc. He told me he keeps them all filed away safely, as well as the medals!

Whilst we didn’t have the gale force winds from hurricane Bertha promised by the forecasters, we had the showers of rain and fairly low cloud, so all the views were pretty much shrouded from view over the first 2/3 of the run… Nothing to it but to put the head down and concentrate on the running rather than gazing at the surroundings for a change, with not much of a point to stop for photos as a consequence.

After around 6 miles and making good time, the first of the ultra runners caught and overtook us, with Moose well-up the field!.. It was shortly after Moose and the rest of the cream of the ultra field owning most of us mediocre marathoners, that I bumped into a chap called Richard McDonald who was running a pretty similar pace to me and we spent the next few miles having a good chat about why we do these things and life in general.

Rain over, but clouds still overhead.
Richard has run a few of the 54321’s and he also has run the Pilgrim previously, and like me will be again in September. As a Scot based down here, he has been back to the homeland to run marathons, most recently the Edinburgh one, which he warned me should be called the East Lothian marathon as you start on the edge of the centre of Edinburgh and keep running eastward leaving the city behind you… So much for making the best of a beautiful city and all its sights, and that pains him as a native of the city! He has also booked in to the Glasgow marathon which from looking at the course seems to be taking you through all the sights of the city centre and making the best of it, so he’s looking forward this one being better, and as he pointed out with the rivalry between the two cities, Glasgow will certainly want to one-up Edinburgh, which would only be a good thing.

We were chatting about names at one point and he told me of a couple of brothers who were at his school, Alan and Peter Ness... It makes you wonder if their parents really thought through the consequences of naming their boys like that.

One of the few vistas we viewed owing to the cloud finally clearing.
Soon the sun began to break through the clouds and the weather changed to broken sunshine for the rest of the race, with Richard leaving me behind as my pace could not match his… Having said that I managed to keep my tempo up and with the sun not having taken a lot out of me over the first 3/4 of the course, I still had plenty of time banked even though the last 10k was hard work in the heat, and I managed to cross the finish line faster than last year… Not bad having not run a step for a few weeks! A world of difference from the last time out in Bath.

Yomping through the Yew forest.
Marathon Man finished the marathon in around 6 hours, buoyed by the number of fellow runners all stopping to chat with him along the way and keeping him going as he covered over 126 miles under his own steam in a day and a half… A truly phenomenal achievement by any standard.

With a fair bit of solitary running being done, this race's shuffle selection was:

To the World (Lifting Club Experience) - ORGAN
Can U Dig it? - PWEI
She’s Got Time - Newton Faulkner
Viva City - Adamski
Bohemian Like You - Dandy Warhols
God is a DJ - Faithless
Summer Rain - Belinda Carlisle
Be Mine - David Gray
Mr.Integrity - L7
Two Sisters - The Kinks
Sheigra - Finitribe
Hands Open - Stone Roses
Tell Me - Stone Roses
Promises - Sugababes
The Guitar - They Might be Giants
Swamp Thing - The Grid
Super Trouper - Abba
Bump - Fun Lovin Criminals
Gambit - XCNN
Going Down - Stone Roses
Right Here Right Now - Jesus Jones
Whale of a Tail - Finitribe
So Hard - Pet Shop Boys

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