Brighton Marathon Report – Kevin Harris

Kevin Harris finds that it really is third time luck, but for any more detail, you’ll have to read on…

The first Brighton marathon 3 years ago was meant to be my first marathon.  But injury put paid to that.  Determined the next year the injury played up again but lots of physio got me through in 4.28 in very hot conditions.  The next year, injury reared its head again.  Now two out of 3 Brighton marathons were lost through injury.  I was beginning to think it was my nemesis, the only race I’ve been too injured to run.  So this time with a week to go and my hip starting to play up on the final Sunday run, I thought it may be happening again.  But sensible rest that week got me to the start line but with a niggling doubt in the back of my mind.

I’d trained really hard for this to attempt to get under 4 hours, a PB.  I asked my sponsors not to give me any money unless I did under four hours, or I’d donate myself.  So I really wanted to do this.  I’d worked hard on my pace on  20, 20 and 21 mile runs at the end of training, at around 8.45 min miles with the intention to do what the books say and run a bit quicker in the marathon.  So when we were off, I tried sticking at around 8.30.  Nice to see Georgie at the start.  We ran briefly together to half way up the hill at Preston Park until she steamed off ahead to come 21st in the women’s race.  Well done, Georgie!  It’s the first time I’ve put my name on my shirt, so as we got into the race was slightly overwhelmed at the amount of times you get your name called out!  The support was amazing.  Was keeping steady heading up to Ovingdean, and decided to try following the 3.45 pacers for a bit.  They were going too fast so I left them to it.  A couple of chats about being vegan ensued with other people who happened to be vegans.  “Vegan Runners” got a few shouts.  Then Chris Caps introduced himself as a Vegan Runner.  Great to meet Chris.  We both wanted to do under four hours and ran together for a fair way in and out of Ovingdean and back into town, having a chat and spotting his mum who was running.  I needed to slow as we ran into town and the big crowds so Chris went ahead.  Still sticking at around 8.30 at half way.
Things stayed pretty much the same until hitting New Church Road at about mile 15.  I could feel the first signs of my legs beginning to tire which I wasn’t expecting with 11 miles to go, and had to put more effort into keeping just over 8.30 min miles.  I passed Chris as he was taking in a drink, said a brief hello and back to concentrating.  Someone asking me about how I got my nutrients at this stage wasn’t as congenial as over in Ovingdean!  Then hitting 20 miles my legs were really tiring and my pace was slowing.  Things started to become painful in the legs but the hip was fine.  The course doesn’t help at this stage running up and down the comparative wilderness of the docks with only the marathon marshalls to egg you on.  Thank you!  I noticed they hadn’t put up the mock wall you run through and hit a painted target as you run through (which they had two years ago).  This, I thought, was a good thing.  A “Not bad for a vegan” shout from the crowd and then down to 9 min miles, 9.30 and 9.45 with 2 miles to go.  At this stage the main aim was not to hit 10 min miles before finishing.  The crowd started again and gave a massive lift in the last 2 miles. Chris passed me with about a mile to go, steaming in for the finish!  I tried and thought I was making an effort for the last stage too, but I’ve seen the video and I look in pain and slightly wobbly.  Passing the line in 3.53.14 with absolutely nothing left in the tank, I was massively chuffed to go 7 mins under 4 hours.  And my bank balance was healthier too.
Just a last thought for Sam Harper Brighouse, his family and friends, who tragically collapsed at mile 16 and passed away in hospital.  Every runners thoughts are with them at this time.