It was only 30+ miles down the road for a 9.30am start but due to the limitations of public transport, had to leave home at 6am to arrive at 8.40am. It would be just as quick to cycle but not at this time of year and not fit enough yet for such a challenge.
Took my fold-up bike for the short journey to the venue and later exploration. Given the long wait in the toilet queue, I did not have time to warm up properly. The position of the start was also not such good judgment, a narrow road flanked by high brick walls so unless you arrived early, finding a good position was not easy to judge if you are not tall. Shortly after the start there was a sharp right, taking runners on two circular laps before heading out towards the edge of the city and into the countryside.
Describing the course as flat is correct but the condition of the surface for long stretches gives the runners an uncomfortable bumpy ride. The former St Albans to Hatfield railway or St Albans Way is a key part of the course, joining it at about 5 miles and leaving it at the next village to loop back. The overnight rain left the course rather muddy for stretches. Re-joining it at the same point from the other side, the course continued in the opposite direction back towards the city. It was this mostly straight stretch that took its toll on many tired limbs. Despite finding it uncomfortable I continued to move up the field due to my poor positioning at the start. I was surprised to catch one runner who is normally well ahead of me but he laid the blame on the quality of the surface. About 1.5 miles later the torture to the body ended although the surface was constantly changing from road to parkland to pathways to cycleways and we finished on another circular route. The rival competitor had regained his composure and overtook me about 200 metres from the finish.
Still building up my fitness after a relatively low mileage November and December, I was satisfied with a time of 1.11. Back in the hall I met up with former VC&AC member of nine years in the 1990s, Jack Brooks. He started marathon running in his early years after joining and focused on this distance, to date Jack has completed a staggering 198 marathons with a quarter of them in the USA alone. Also met Sharon Davidson who ran a time of 1.23.