Race Report from Nina Jensen
Having decided (foolishly perhaps) that I would do 5 marathons in 2016, I picked a local event, the Leas Marathon to be my first. The event is run by North East Marathon Club who offer reasonably priced local marathons and was 4 lap route in a figure of 8 along the Leas coastal path in South Tyneside.
The event was organised as a handicap with everyone due to finish at around 2.30 so that NEMC members could head off to their AGM and buffet. As I know a couple of the runners I’d plumped to complete within 4 and a half hours, so slower than my last marathons but meant I would have company and would benefit from their seasoned marathon wisdom, one having completed nearly 70 marathons and the other who would be getting an award for completing her 50th. When I mentioned that I was in awe of their achievements they both piped up, “oh that’s nothing, that fella there has done over 400!”
So at 10am, a small group of us set off from Marsden Grotto to join those already on the course and what a stunning course it was. Underfoot was a mixed terrain of trail paths and grassed areas and although mainly flat there was a downhill stretch at the northerly point before we ran back up a short incline and back onto the cliffs.
Views of Souter lighthouse and the rocky Camel Beds were certainly dramatic enough to keep your mind occupied whilst the miles ticked down. Everyone on the course nodded and offered support to each other and gave the marathon more of a feel of a long club run. Juice, water and a range of sweets and biscuits were available at the cross section of the figure of 8 and my fellow runners made the most of these and stopped to chat to the marshalls and timekeepers each time we passed. I felt it would be rude to not join in so tucked into the jaffa cakes and orange squash.
The weather was a real mixed bag with spells of sunshine and drizzly showers and the wind really picked up particularly on the last lap. However there were short sheltered stretches where we got respite from it before being battered and blown again.
We eventually finished our last lap in 4 hours and 39 minutes but having company all the way around certainly made a difference and helped the time pass quickly. Having been ticked off the list for the final time we were given our medals and offered more juice and snacks.
A great event and really well organised. I think I’ll be back to do this again next year. I also now know that the best way to do a marathon is to soak up the atmosphere and take my time. I can now see how these guys get to do them in their hundreds!