My neighbour Pini was running in the race as well, so I offered to give him a lift down with me in my van, which I finally have back from the garage (2 months after it went in) as it turns out I'd been sold a lemon :( The van affords decent comfort and space in the cabin for the journey and the plan for it is to be self-converted into a camper for use on the weekend marathons and summer camping expeditions. I'm still to get beyond the planning stage through not being able to get my hands on it, but as it stands can be used as a changing room on wheels!
Driving back from the garage on the Friday night I returned to the village too late for the petrol stations to be open. With the warning light on for the fuel lit for an empty tank and the dial being firmly on zero I knew it would be an early start to Saturday with a dash to the nearest 24hr garage to put some juice in the lemon.
We needed to be parked at Queen Elizabeth Country Park a few miles north of Portsmouth and on one of the event coaches to Slindon College before 8am, so to be able to be organised and get there in time I set the alarm for 5am.
Springing in to action I jumped in the van, with my bike in the back and an empty 5L fuel can in case of running-out en-route. The nearest 24 hour garage is about 6 miles off, so I figured that in a worst case scenario I would have enough time to cycle to get 5L of fuel, cycle back, pour it in and drive to get more, drive home and still have time to leave for the race at the decided hour of 6:30.
Fortunately I made it to the garage without incident, put the fuel in and drove-off after paying… Looking down at the fuel gauge it still had the light on and was reading absolute zero… So off to the garage it will have to go for more repairs which will have meant that I would have spent as much on repairs as I did buying it!
Pini knocked on my door at 6:30 and we clambered in and drove off on the uneventful 30 mile journey to the finish line and a half mile walk to a waiting bus and embarcation for the half hour journey.
Upon arrival we walked into Slindon college and milled around with everyone else awaiting the start. Under the sun it was quite pleasant but there was quite a chilly wind blowing across the site which made it uncomfortable.
|The college building.|
|Looking back over the wall.|
I had a good chat with a couple of other runners, one of whom was one of the many 100 marathon club members who were running the race. They were all sporting their blue and yellow tops and seemed to know each other very well as a consequence of just being around the same events as each other so often.
|The relay marathon about to start.|
|Pini all smiles ready for the get-go.|
|All geared-up for the long-haul.|
|Farm track running.|
|The long glaring chalk path.|
|Great views as you run the ridge.|
|Viewing for miles off into the distance.|
|The final ridge run looking down on the village of Buriton.|
Slowly but surely, feeling every one of the short, sharp hills that made the rest of the route I managed to drag my sorry arse to the finish line. Eventually I found myself by the cafe where we had embarked on the buses earlier so the end was only a mile off back where the van was parked.
After a detour around some hedges I found myself in the field with the finish a couple of hundred metres in front of me so I mustered all I could to get to the finish line. Crossing I gratefully accepted the finishers goody-bag and the event tee, grabbed a bottle of water and collapsed in the shade in the empty half of the baggage gazebo.
Taking off my trainers, socks and ankle protectors to cool down I lay back to cool, drinking the water. A couple of minutes later I spotted Pini wandering along so called out to him. Beaming from ear to ear he came and joined me along with his partner Vics who had very kindly obtained for me a printout of my time.
|A beaming Pini.|