Running for the pies

Running for the pies

Saturday, 25 October 2014

21st September: The Pilgrim

Having done absolutely diddly-squat in the physical activity department since cycling the Glencoe marathon recce, I left this morning for my second running of the Farnham Pilgrim Marathon.

Like last year, my neighbour Pini was running it as well so I gave him a lift down to the start with me on this fine September morning.

The Pilgrim is the closest trail marathon to where I live at around 15 miles as the crow flies, starting from a field next to Farnham Golf Course and heading West on to the North Down’s Way (the ‘Pilgrim’s Way’, hence the name) for an out and back route that turns at the course’s high-point of St. Martha’s Church.

Parking-up close to the start we went down and registered before going about our separate preparations for the run.

Milling around before the off.
I made it to the start line with about 5 minutes to go where I caught-up with Dennis ’The Machine’ Cartwright who has recently been accepted into the next running of the Brathay 10 in 10 marathons in 2015 to wish him the best with preparing for that and to chalking-off another in his quest to join the 100 marathon club. Saying our hello’s the countdown commenced and we were off and trotting.

Hitting the Trail.
Heading out of the playing field start/finish and around the corner we all filed along a country lane before we found the North Downs Way and the off-road section over a few fields and skirting some woods. This path to the half way is largely on a downhill trajectory for the first 10 miles, passing a couple of pubs, a golf course, a vineyard and some llamas, so with the broadly downward path you can make a good time all the way to the foot of the climb up to St. Martha’s church where this first hill of any consequence really bites!

A four legged runner.
On this stretch I caught up with Rich McDonald with whom I ran part of the 54321 and managed to hold on to his tail for a chat for a couple of miles about the recent Scottish referendum and how in a master-stroke of politicking Alex Salmond has, whilst not winning the referendum, achieved pledges from the main political parties in Britain for far greater Scottish autonomy - something he had originally wanted on the ballot as a third option and was denied by ‘Dave’… That and my escapades on Ben Nevis and our plans for future races before I had to ease-off and let him go ahead at his far faster pace.

Some of the spectators.
The good thing about what goes up must come down is that upon having to climb up to St. Martha’s church, straight after the struggle to the summit you get the view from the top and a recovery stretch along the plateau to regain your breath before you have a decent descent for a couple of miles.

Topping the hill.
Come the turn at the church I had been making very good time, in fact I was on for a far better time than last year, but this came at a price as I had really over-done it by just going way too fast considering I had done no work in the build-up to this run, and from 15 miles on it is broadly uphill to the finish, so unsurprisingly come 2/3 of the distance my legs were shot and I just could not get a consistent rhythm going. Passing back over the canal bridge I knew there was only a few miles to go but I could only concentrate on merely reaching the finish rather than finishing with gusto and a faster time than last year slipped through my fingers in front of me… Crossing the line 15 minutes down on last year.

The view from the plateau.
As I crossed the field approaching the line I had a wonderful surprise… There was LSS and spud at the finish to cheer me home, although after grabbing my breath and a couple of slices of cake, Spud was more interested in grabbing what was in my hand than seeing me!
Pini had run 2 minutes slower this year than last but had finished in a higher position of 10th overall and 3rd in his category - although they only gave a prize for the first 2 positions, so he missed-out there, but that does not take away anything from a terrific achievement, something I know he had been training hard for.

Crossing the canal.
This year all of us finishers were given a tech tee (a light grey one with a front and back print of the event logo of a monk) so another one for the collection! but it is quite a funky one.
As I recovered from the exerts, feeling completely rinsed I saw Marathon Man standing just along from me looking as fresh as a daisy so I sauntered over for a chat. It turned-out that he and Pini spent some time on the course chatting and running as they were both towards the front of the pack at the start before Pini pushed on harder leaving him to finish in his very own respectable time.

After a few Spud ‘cuddles’ and a time to recover I wandered back to the van with Pini. As we piled our gear in to the back, a familiar face pulled-up alongside us he drove off for home: Rich McDonald again, who I hardly recognised without a buff on his head, stopping for a farewell chat after another good run before driving back to our respective homesteads and recovery after the day's exertions.

Its safe to say I was a little disappointed in my time - and I know why it was thus: Going too hard too early and not putting any practice in since my tumble off that hill in Scotland, although I managed a finish and in 277/347 so still a little way of DFL, which I recorded in my first official marathon, and an experience I hope never to repeat - although from that point the only way was up as I have shown :)

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