The Heat turned on at Milton Keynes

 Report and photos by Peter Simpson

Three Vegan Runners all participating in their first marathon from the MK Dons Football Stadium. Darren Spindler from Norwich had a good build-up to the marathon, setting personal bests over distances up to half marathon and running competitively so his confidence was high. Ion Holban from London however was suffering early on was back problems so limiting his training but it picked up by March allowing Ion to run the Milton Keynes half marathon. Ion did experience other problems nearer the event with bicycle accidents. Siobhan Carleton-Green, Ion’s partner appeared to have a trouble-free build-up to the marathon and trained with Ion.

Left : Peter, Andy, Ion and Siobhan

Unfortunately good weather for the spectators was problematic for the runners. The heat was forecast with 20+C in the shade.I planned to cycle to points on the course to support our runners and take photos. Outside the stadium I soon met Ion & Siobhan and a member of the VC&AC, Andy Harper also a vegan and experienced marathon runner. Later towards the start I found Darren with Georgie.

Darren and Georgie (ran Brighton on 14 April)

Cycling up the road to view the runners in the first mile I managed to pick out Ion and Darren close together, running in the direction of Central Milton Keynes, one of the highest areas of the course.

By the time the runners were leaving Central Milton Keynes to go back towards the Stadium to start the loop of 18-19 miles around Milton Keynes including some of the lakes, the canal, woods and of course the cycle paths.

Siobhan descending from  Central Milton Keynes

Trying to keep in contact with just three runners around the course was already proving difficult. I seemed to be giving Siobhan more of my support at both CMK and Caldecotte but unable to catch up with Darren’s impressive pace.

Darren at 15 miles around Willen Lake

Taking a shortcut to the 15 miles area around Willen Lake, I managed to cycle there before the leaders. The breeze off the lake was noticeable and very much welcomed by the runners as we approached midday. The normal bank holiday crowds were out but not necessary to see the runners. The marshals had their work cut out trying to keep a lane clear for the 2000+ runners. Darren appeared to be running well and coping with the conditions but Ion was slowing after his fast start. Siobhan also appeared to have dropped back. Cycling on towards CMK I had to cross over the canal and the route a further mile forward. I managed to see Siobhan once more as the pathway sharply inclined near the crossing.

Ion at 15 miles at Willen Lake

Willen Lake is also the area of the weekly Park Run and many other shorter distance events.

Cycling from the canal up to CMK reminded me of the tough course for the half marathon that changed in March taking us up through Campbell Park and it was a challenge on the bike. Picking up the course at about 22 miles I was unsure if Darren had passed through so carried on towards the finish but taking a detour so as not to pose a problem to the runners. Had to cross over the course again near the hospital where the course climbed sharply for the last time.

Arriving near the stadium on the course, the runners in general were going at a good pace so Darren may or may not have gone through. After locking the bike I went into the stadium and around to the finish. The clock was already at about 3.20 and I met Darren who had to climb the terracing to meet Georgie with the pram and baby. Darren had finished in 3.13, a tremendous performance given the conditions and his first marathon.

Just 2.5 sides of the football pitch to go for Ion.

Siobhan in the stadium car park with about 400 metres to go.

Ion & Andy finished in 3.47, relieved it is over bar the pain and recovery. Ion informs us that he picked up the pace in the last two miles or so with the course mainly flat or downhill and caught Andy.


Siobhan was aiming for nearer 4 hours but had to settle for 4.28 given the conditions. Also finishing around the same time and meeting her at the baggage hall was former member Sharon Davidson. A little earlier Anna Finn also finished and was running for the 100 marathon Club, achieving that feat with VRUK.