Abingdon Marathon 19 Oct 08 – Frances 2nd fv55!

I feel I should declare my interests here:
1) I live 3/4 of a mile down the road from the start & finish point
2) with my second-claim hat on, I am an Abingdon Ambler
3) Abingdon was my first ever marathon, two years ago (and still my PB)
4) the course goes past my office and one of my colleagues was doing this year’s as his first marathon
5) the friend who got me into running in the first place was doing this as her first marathon, having miraculously made it to the start line despite being the most accident-prone woman in the world
6) an ex-colleague of mine was the race director in ’06
…. er I think that’s it.

So no way was I not going to be there cheering on our four fine vegans as they tackled the towering hills underpass of Abingdon!

My day started at a few minutes past eight, when I got up, showered, dressed, pulled on my stylish yellow bin bag and trotted to the end of the road to my marshalling position. Not a lot to do, there, as we were also blessed with a vanful of sturdy young coppers to see to the traffic.

I didn’t hear the gun, but soon enough the time car appeared, followed by the usual torrent of people going off too fast. In the mass of runners I only managed to spot Peter, who as ever looked charmingly startled to see me marshalling. Then they were all gone and it was off with the bin-bag and on to the bicycle, to head down to the road past my office to support my friend. (If you saw a lady in a Welsh flag vest – that was her).

The Abingdon Marathon is anything but a “local race for local people”, but I am (now. ish) “local” and so I managed to take the back way through in time to see not only my friend but, in stylish black and green, Frances Humphries and Laurence Klein. No time for photos then, but I nipped swiftly into the town centre and caught Laurence:

I knew I wouldn’t have time for a long run on marathon day, so cunningly I had done 1 loop of the 2-loop course as my long run the day before, using it to scope out suitable spots to settle with my boombox and camera for optimal supporting conditions. (I packed the boombox because I recalled how soulsapping the sparse support was in ’06 – a big city race this is not! – and my Saturday run had only reminded me how quiet a lot of the route is).
I cycled off to my first spot: where Oday Lane meets Drayton Road. This is where Frances is in this picture:

She looked like she was having a grand old time all the way round, and the word that comes most strongly to mind is “waft”. Not surprisingly she was 2nd in her age category, having run a very nicely paced race! A little while later Laurence appeared…

… after which I heartlessly packed up my kit and headed south to a handy roadside bench just north of Milton Village, turned up the volume and put my feet up to await “my” runners.
Frances came by first, still looking as though she was being gently blown along by a summer breeze:

I had expected to see my friend’s Welsh vest next but here was Laurence… I am afraid I was yawning a bit here and he caught it!

Time passed. Then, oh dear, a very sad looking person in a Welsh flag vest appeared. It transpired that she had done a Liz Yelling and gone arse over tit in Thrupp Lane (mile 2), the potholes of which we both know like the backs of our hands. Adrenaline had been carrying her along, but now sweat was dripping into the cuts and stinging and various bits were swelling up alarmingly. It was Mile 9 and no way was she in any shape to get through Milton Park (the ghost town business park) even once, let alone twice. I stuck my tent-like rain cape over her head and she rang her hubby to come pick her up.

By the time her knight in a shining Mini appeared, we had seen the leaders come through (for, rather cruelly, mile 9 was also mile 18+change). So I sat tight and waited for the first vegan to come through…

– still looking surprised to see me – but not as surprised as I was to see Sharon! She was dressed in black cunningly disguised, so neither I nor my spies had spotted her before now. Hence no photo. But here’s one from Reading earlier this year!

I waited for Frances and Laurence to come round again, and then skedaddled. Not only had the iPod run out of juice, but I desperately needed a wee! Back home I made use of the facilities, mugged my better half for his mp3 player, cast aside the bicycle’s exhausted battery, and headed down the road just in time to catch Frances floating through the last few hundred yards:

(picture blurred due to sheer speed I tell you).
That last stretch was juuuuust horrible when I did it. So out came the boombox again. Which is why Laurence doesn’t look surprised to see me…

Sharon managed to sneak up on me again, but ! Sharon, if your Mum took any pictures, send us a nice one so we can put it up here! … anyhow I digress.
Over at the track I found Peter and Sharon settled in the stands and made it in time to cheer Laurence across the line (the runners were sent for a quick diversion round the paved bits of Tilsley Park before they were allowed to actually finish! I do hope the organisers cleared the rabbit corpses out of sight – TP is bunny central, but at this time of year they keel over and die in vast numbers all over the place). Fra
nces was gone, but she was in the results as 2nd FV55 so we didn’t just dream her.
A fine day for vegan runners. And also, for Helen and Douglas House (a local hospice & respite centre for children & teenagers) because I promised my colleague a quid for every minute he came in under 4 hours, and he bounded round in 3:22 rather than the 3:45 I’d been expecting… ho well, keeping away from the takeaways for a few weeks is good for your health, no?