There were even more familiar faces here than Cleethorpes, Beth was there again (and took second lady), as was Richard who’d run Oldham way earlier in the year. We had a good chat at the start and then after a mile or two fell into pace together and chatted our way around the rest of the race together which was great.
Underfoot was tricky in places, after a little stretch of tow path early on, there was an awful lot of mud. Not really a problem on the way out, but on the way back with tired legs there were a few grim bits, trudging through fields picking up more and more mud on our shoes before the next short tarmac stretch where we could bang it all off again.
The signage was actually brilliant, I didn’t look at the route description at all for the first half, but there were a few changes to the route back which nearly caught us out. First was a diversion around a set of stocks in some little village. On the way out we ran straight down this path, but on the way back we had to detour around to the left, then back through a field to re-join the trail we’d taken earlier. We nearly missed it, but after a chat with some other runners (including Nick Cockburn who was running his 49th marathon that day), we went the right way.
Richard and I were chatting then about how glad we were we realised, and how gutted we’d have been to inadvertently take a shorter route, which was sort of funny since we nearly did it again later.
One bit of the route on the way out meant coming off the tow path and running up the road a bit to a pub, turning around, and re-joining the tow path to carry on. On the way back at about 24 miles, the signage indicated that we just carry on straight through on the return leg, missing the pub out. Richard and I chatted about it, and it seemed to make sense. The guy manning the CP at the pub on the way out had said he’d be gone by 1230, and we’d run an extra loop on the way back, so combined with the arrow pointing us straight on we were sure we’d done the right thing. Then a guy who’d been in front of came running up behind us and told us we’d missed the pub. We dug out our route descriptions and realised he was right, swore quite a lot, and turned back, picking up another guy who’d just done exactly the same.
Again we were glad we’d gone back and done the right thing, apart from the risk of a DQ, seriously, what’s the point if you’re going to cut the course?
Unfortunately though, three other guys who’d passed us earlier had all missed the pub out. The guy who’d helped us out had come 4th to them, and Richard and I had come joint 6th. He was rightly pissed off, and after a stewards enquiry, he was awarded the win, with the three guys getting 2nd, 3rd and 4th. I’m not entirely sure what logic dictates that they didn’t run the course properly enough to win, but they did enough to come 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Only people starting at 0900 were eligible for prizes so if they didn’t want to DQ them it would have made more sense to give them a finish, but not in the 0900 start category.
Unprompted the race direct has offered me and Richard free places at another event which I guess is cool, but to be honest I’d rather have had the third place finish that we slogged our guts out for.
That aside, it was a great race. The route was really scenic, challenging, the aid stations were well stocked by happy marshals, the course marking was brilliant, and the food at the end was spectacular. The goody bag was pretty cool too, with a bottle of cider and a nice glass. Throw in the fact I was able to get a shower before the three hour drive home and it was a top race all round.