Barry Orr at the Portsmouth Marathon 18th December 2011

Ed: New member Barry Orr reports on his first event as a Vegan Runner! Great Result Barry 🙂

My first Portsmouth Marathon, and my first marathon for the club, so thought I’d write a first report to say hi. And what a curious race it was! Probably the most mixed of courses I’ve been on: there were things to enthral, and things to go “what the heck?!

At the start, got timing chip successfully, and then chatting with fellow runners and warming up at the beginning. Then suddenly: off! Usually, you get a pre race briefing, a countdown, and then a horn blast to start, but all these were AWOL. Maybe I was just too far back in the pack to hear them? (But then again, guys next to me didn’t hear it either…).

Nice first few miles, and good cheery locals willing you on in the first mile or so. This is the first marathon I’ve done following a recent knee complaint, so I didn’t push too hard to begin – fearing collapse, but I had nothing to worry about in the end. That dodgy ol’ joint, although it twinged at times, held up well. Race had a number of surfaces – roads, loose stones and gravel, grass and wood floor – nice variety, and gave joints a valuable rest at times. Also a first experience, albeit briefly, was running on and through on seaweed. Was it weird? A little 🙂

The coastal path is very narrow in places, which lead to a lot of bottlenecking. Also some narrow gates to pass through at times, and an odd climb up a steep hill by side of a river, where you had to wriggle through trees in a bottleneck (stopping then for a short while altogether), and climb over a fence to get to the main road. Not marshalled this bit, and if you hadn’t been following other runners, you wouldn’t know where to go or what to do. Def bit of an oversight on organiser’s part. Also, was it just me, or were there a few mile markers missing along the way? (which I was timing my progress by, so that hurt!). Stolen by local scallies? Chances of a PB then were not looking too promising.

Nevertheless, made the second half of the marathon in just over two hours. My PB for whole marathon is 3:55, set in Isle of Man last year. So I had high hopes I could do something close to this, if conditions stayed good.

But alas, I was to be thwarted. Started getting major stomach cramps just after mile 17. The threat of fluids, and more, escaping from my body in a variety of colourful ways seemed ever present from there on in 😉 As a result, really needed those water stations psychologically, and they were well placed around the course. And fight those coastal winds boy, fight em! It was obvious now though my pace was slowing, and was a tough battle to get to the end. Managed to keep fluids in though, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear, and got there. 4:11. Def not then my best, but could have been worse too.

Good medal at the end, scrummy vegan friendly energy/protein bars, and the best race t-shirt I’ve yet seen – lovingly made, and one you’d be proud to wear at the gym a few days later. I also met one of the 100 marathon club guys who has done an amazing, a staggering (for me at least) 856 marathons! That’s right, 856: you read correctly. And yep, he’s going for the 1000. I felt a friggin baby in comparison. But let’s look on the bright side. I’ve only got 848 to go to match him. Should be a cinch 🙂

So to summarize:

Pluses: some nice coastal views and terrain

Good organisation generally, especially right at the finish.

Good atmosphere among runners

The Portsmouth sunset over the ocean after the race – gorgeous.



Some weird points on the course (aka, that hill!).

Marshals weren’t all that smiley round the course – I know one or two might have been missing the Pompey match that afternoon to be a marshal, but really, try not to be look so sad about it… 😉

No showers!!! Not just this race I’ve got this barney with, to be fair. I’m getting a mite fed up with race organisers everywhere generally ignoring the need for them. If you’re travelling many miles sometimes for a race, you can’t always jump in the shower at home that afternoon! I’d wait half an hour for one after the race if need be, but could you provide a few? Please!

(I did find some nearby with effort in the end, but had to pay extra. Really, no “spirit of Xmas” generosity, or ” season of good will” from local leisure centre staff, for some hot water…)

Race then overall: 3/5. If you’re local, probably worth doing.

Merry vegan Xmas y’all,