No.12 – Dorset Invader Marathon

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Twelve down, eight to go

I don’t know what to write about this one …. hot ? hilly ? …. it’s done ?

So I’ve nicked Andy from White Star’s description :

Julius Caesar visited Britain in 55BC and reported “that the soil was good, there was plenty of food and people that could be used as slaves”. But the Romans did not have a large enough army to invade and conquer Britain. Skip forward to 43 AD under the Emperor Claudius the Romans invade. 44AD the Romans turn up in Dorset and pretty much smash any opposition The Celts of Dorset were mainly the Durotriges tribe and basically were given the option become part of the Roman Empire or face the consequences. The 2nd legion under Vespasian (sounds like an Italian Scooter) the future Emperor of Rome made his area capitol at Durnovaria, modern day Dorchester.Dorset is full of ancient hill forts Maiden castle, Hod and Hambledon Hill being the most notable. Anyways whats this got to do with a marathon in July? Well part of the route goes over the land used by the 2nd legion used as encampment in the days after taking Dorset you will run past a massive Celtic ditch and enclosure and run up to an Iron age Hill fort at Wetherby which will be 14 miles in the marathon (we think) So seeing as this part of Dorset is dripping in the Roman thang, we would have Roman medals and theme….any excuse to dress up. So the marathon medal is a representation of the 2nd Legion also called Legio Augusta (thats Latin that is) The Golden Eagle and Standard of the Legions Capricorn motif. 

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The scenery was beautiful, organisation excellent as always, great marshals, nice schnapps at the lovestations and lovely to chat to Katherine from BCRC at the start.

Unfortunately, with the exception of the last three I didn’t appreciate much of it. My fault not the races.

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Learning point :

  • There’s a fine line between fortitude and lunacy

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No.11 – Midnight Sun Marathon, Tromso, Norway

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Eleven down, nine to go !

This was always going to be special ….. Northern most official marathon in the world, my first time above the arctic circle, running and spending time with friends and the actual marathon on our 22nd wedding anniversary.

It was good to make the journey out to Norway with some fellow BCRC’ers on this trip, the company is always appreciated and it’s always handy to have pacers when you’re sprinting through Oslo airport trying to make your connecting flight ! Flight delays blighted this trip, but fortunately not so much that it affected our enjoyment of our time in Tromso.

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Tromso is way up there, you can’t go much further north without getting your feet wet, or iced. We were further north than Iceland …. they got their own back ! and pretty much further north than everything else.

The weather wasn’t too bad, a little colder than home but the rain stayed away for most of the weekend.

We enjoyed a nice BCRC meal and couple of beers in the local pizza place on the Friday evening and tried to get some sleep before the big evening. The fact the sun didn’t go down left my body clock in disarray.

After breakfast, and some time trying to figure out how we’d prepare for most people’s first evening marathon, we wandered over to the tiny Expo to collect our bib’s en masse. There was to be a starting field of just under 1000 for the marathon with around half of the participants coming from the UK, and a half marathon being run alongside and on some of the same course.

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We had lunch soon after, and to my surprise were joined by a couple of supporters from home.

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I’ve known Alex and Di for some time now. I used to work with Di in the service, and I’ve always appreciated the support and kindness she has shown to Sharon and I over the years.

I knew they were both well-travelled and have done some amazing trips in their time, but driving …. yep, driving ! over 2000 miles to say hi and support for the race. I think they may well have won the competition for driving the furthest to support this year, and it was lovely to see them both and catch up over lunch.

We spent the afternoon / early evening trying to rest in preparation for the 8.30pm start, which in my case involved snacking and putting my feet up !

The course was fairly flat, and other than a few highlights was fairly uninspiring if I’m honest. This was more than made up for by the enthusiastic support of the Norwegians who, by such a late hour, probably had some help from the local brew of choice !

I was just looking at getting home in under four hours again for this, which for the first time would mean finishing a marathon the day after I started !

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The weather was nice and cold, the support was amazing …..

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….. thanks Di, Alex and Norway !, and I managed to finish in just under three hours and forty minutes. I then promptly froze. I tried a beer at the end, but only just managed to drink it as I was shivering so much. Cue swift (ish) shiver / walk back to the hotel where I defrosted on the bathroom underfloor heating ! (Thanks to Elin who couldn’t come out to Tromso in the end, but let me have her hotel room)

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There was some great racing from the group out there, and it was great to spend time with everyone on the Sunday exchanging stories of mad Norwegians, frostbite and probably the strangest race many of us had run.

We recovered with buns, sightseeing and beer ….. job done …. these guys make running so much more enjoyable and it was a pleasure to share it with them …. not the bun !

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Learning points :

  • Don’t travel from Gatwick
  • Do travel with friends who can run !
  • Norwegians are great fun and great supporters …. much like Di and Alex !
  • Black out curtains are essential when the sun doesn’t go down
  • The course may have been a little uninspiring, but Norway is beautiful
  • Cinnamon buns …… mmmmm
  • Tight rope walking as post marathon recovery probably won’t happen again
  • Beer is expensive in Norway, as in £10 a pint, but what are you gonna do ?
  • Be sure which part of the reindeer you’re eating

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