A bit of a delay in writing this one up but in brief another weekend and another marathon but of course this was no normal road marathon!
Over the years of Blogging I have extolled the virtues of White Star Running events; Giants Head Marathon, The Ox, The Larmer Tree…the list goes on. They are races organised by runners providing what runners want from a race; stunning scenery, fantastic feed stations, marvellous marshals, astounding atmosphere and a Lovestation! Up until now their races have always been trail, but after White Star Running was approached by Dorchester Casterbridge Rotary Club 2 years ago to see if they would be interested in collaborating to put Dorchester on the map the result was the new prestigious Dorchester Marathon and Casterbridge Half Marathon was born! A race on fully closed roads running through historic Dorchester, picturesque villages and the glorious Dorset countryside. As before White Star Running events are not only about the race, so of course there would to be amazing medals and t-shirts for all finishers, a post-race party, free live entertainment, a bar with local ales and cider, catering and weekend camping at the race village. Of course I signed up immediately, what else was I going to do on a Bank Holiday weekend in May!
So that’s how I found myself, with a bunch of other Chippenham Harriers, on a Saturday afternoon, pitching my tent on a blustery field, in the Dorchester countryside, praying that it wouldn’t start raining until I had at least got my tent up! Fortunately the rain gods were on our side and we all successfully pitched, sorted out our kit, had a wander around the race village, bought a squeaky cow, sat and gossiped and then finally went down to the marquee for dinner; Chicken Penne with Mushroom and Herbs in Cream Sauce and for dessert Baked Vanilla Cheese Cake with Berry Compote which was absolutely delicious and all for £8! It certainly beat trying to heat something over a gas stove in a windy field plus the marquee had a bar with a lush selection of local ciders!
After a good nights’ sleep, porridge pots consumed it was time to make my way to the race; a 2 minute walk from the athletes village (well that’s what the signpost said!). I was the only Chippenham Harrier taking part in the marathon, everyone else was far more sensible! The upside of this is unless disaster struck I would be the first Harrier home, the downside was due to the race instructions I kind of stood out in my Harriers vest! To expand on this further the WSR camping and extra information instructions included the following lines: ‘No open fires or singing late into the night THAT’S YOU Chippenham Harriers. Be aware of random nudity….just saying it happens THAT’S YOU AGAIN Chippenham Harriers!’ What goes on tour stays on tour! But due to this I did get questioned a fair bit by some other runners, next time safety in numbers please!
The race was started by the Town Crier with a special cry penned for the event and a ring of bells, the atmosphere was like a party not the normal seriousness of a road marathon, unfortunately I wasn’t watching where I was going and 3 metres after crossing the start line I went over on my ankle down a pot hole! Perhaps I wasn’t going to be the first Harrier home! Obviously I took the sensible option and carried on running, ignored the pain and hoped it would settle down! The support through Dorchester was fantastic and was a great distraction, then after the town centre the route wound around the country roads with lovely support along the way, amazing feed stations about every 3 miles where each one had a theme and an inspiring camaraderie amongst the runners. After 3 miles the pain was manageable, I ran with different people and chatted along the way and ticked off the miles and the hills; did I mention it was hilly! Of course a WSR event was never going to be flat but the hills, tarmac and heat at times made my eyeballs sweat! I loved the race, the hills were just mounds of opportunity, the feed stations a welcome time to stop to make the most of the array of goods on offer and the finishing time was irrelevant; it was never going to be a PB on that course! The scenery and beautiful villages were a welcome distraction, one village at around 15 miles was so beautiful the guys were even stopping to take selfies and getting peoples stunning back gardens in their photos! Around mile 17 the ankle was starting to protest, as was my knee from where I was obviously running differently to compensate for my ankle, oh well only 9 miles to go and I had the Lovestation to look forward to in 3 miles!
So what’s a ‘Lovestation’ I hear you cry? Well it’s run by carefully selected mad people to give you a bit of a boost at the part of the race where you are starting to flag. This years’ Lovestation was sponsored by Piddle Brewery, so when you rock up you can have a sit down and have a drink of something nice like flat Coke, water, squash, beer, cider or perhaps vodka and chew on a cake or Scotch egg and just get your s*** together before venturing on to finish the race. There’s always a hug or two, including this year there were ‘wet hugs’ on offer because of the heat! A wet hug involves someone hugging you whilst squeezing water logged sponges on your back! Here’s mine!
The Lovestation was a welcome relief and with the knowledge there was only 6 more hilly miles to go the end was in sight, however nobody was brave enough to say those immortal words ‘only two Parkruns to go!’. I don’t recall much of those miles apart from the hills didn’t lessen, I got to chat with fellow buzzer Keith for a while as we toiled up yet another hill, the pain in my knee and ankle came and went, the heat didn’t lessen but nor did the camaraderie between runners; we were all supporting each other to the finish line. With just a mile to go I untied my squeaky cow from my running belt and squeaked my way to the finish line; a squeaky cow can be quite distracting didn’t you know!
As always the finishing time, well for me, was irrelevant but the finishing medal and t-shirt aren’t; awesome as always!
Of course is started raining 10 minutes after finishing but that didn’t dampen our spirits! Nutrients lost were replenished with Cider and fried egg sandwiches, state of disrepair slightly repaired with a hot shower and Ibuprofen gel, gossip caught up on sheltering under a gazebo and before I knew it dinnertime had arrived and it was time to head off to the marquee; Roast loin Pork with all the trimmings followed by Fruit Crumble with Custard and maybe some more of that local Cider! We then didn’t move from the marquee, the band started up, the caller started the barn dance and we were off; a ramshackle of runners, slightly inebriated who on a good day can barely tell their left from their right! What a brilliant end to the day, never did I think the evening after a marathon I’d be doing the do-si-do!
Will I be back for next year, you try and stop me! I can also confirm that this year there was no random nudity and no open fires……mainly on both counts the rain was of biblical proportions and even the Harriers have their limits!
Oh you’re still wondering about the random nudity…….well we made the WSR calendar…..you can always scroll down!
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