A Blustery Outing at The Larmer Tree Marathon

Posted on: 11 Mar 2019




  1. (of weather) characterized by strong winds.

"a gusty, blustery day"


That definitely describes the weather system we experienced at The Larmer Tree on Sunday!  So what and where is The Larmer Tree? 

‘The Larmer Tree Gardens near Tollard Royal in south Wiltshire, were created by Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers in 1880 as pleasure grounds for "public enlightenment and entertainment". They were the first private gardens opened for public enjoyment in the United Kingdom, and were free to enter.  The gardens are situated on the Rushmore Estate in Cranborne Chase, an ancient royal hunting ground and now an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.   The gardens hold a unique collection of ornate buildings, ranging from the spectacular Singing Theatre to the magical Roman Temple and are listed as Grade II on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England by English Heritage.’

So why did I venture to the Larmer Tree Gardens at some ungodly hour on a stormy Sunday morning; well for a race of course!  White Star Running hold a number of races at the venue over the weekend with a marathon on the Sunday.  I had run the marathon once before back in 2014, there was no other reason I could recall of not going back other than timing and as I had no memory of being traumatised I thought I’d return in 2019, and then I won a London Marathon place!  My plan for London is to train from a conventional schedule but I came to the conclusion that one little off road marathon taken steady could be treated as a long run; however it was a very long run! 

I arrived a little later than planned having missed the turning whilst admiring the view!  However arriving 25 minutes before the race start worked perfectly; number collected, double pinned in case the wind ripped if off and comfort break all before 8.30am and then the race start was delayed by 10 minutes due to fallen trees!  I wasn’t expecting to see any fellow Harriers today so I was really pleased to see Victoria approaching me, however she had a look of terror which I found out was because this was her first marathon and not at the sight of me!  A hug of reassurance, an offer to run with me if this would help and not hinder and words of what I hoped were encouragement that nothing bad was going to happen; well it wasn’t raining!  Then we were off into the unknown!

The first 10 miles were not too bad, no serious climbs and myself and Victoria took it steady knowing that we had to save energy for the later leg sapping hills.  To begin with a lot of the route was in woodland so the wind did not affect us too much but then all of a sudden out in the open you really did take a battering from the wind which was hard enough but it was also so energy sapping.  After 10 miles the route has more climbs, more open spaces and the wind at the top of the climbs was at times scary; running into 50mph winds is bad but on the odd occasion when we weren’t running into the wind and were being pushed along by it the feeling of no control could actually be terrifying.  

At times we discovered it was pointless running into the wind as you used so much energy to achieve little more than if you just walked as were demonstrating here!     

At the top of the hills I can only compare the feeling to running on a treadmill, on the hardest setting but with wonderful views of Dorset instead of some sweaty runner on the treadmill next to you!  Of course being a WSR event the signage brought a smile!

Victoria stuck with me even though at times she could have gone ahead, my longest run this year having only been 17 miles was starting to show but I was pleased with how I felt and then just before 22 miles we reached the Love Station!  Two cups of flat Coca Cola, a Schnapps chaser and chocolate brownies revitalised me!

Then it was only 5 miles to the finish, well it was a WSR event!  We kept pushing, walking when we had to and comparing aches and pains!  Victoria on her first marathon was still really strong but she did say everything hurt which was reassuring for me!   Finally we knew the finish line was ahead but we had to follow the path to it and not the quickest route which would have been straight across the gardens!  The path was made of loose stone and the wind of course was against us and we really did have to fight everything to get to the finish!  27.2 miles and 5hrs 45mins later we made it; elated!

The wind made it a whole different type of race; if the hills didn’t get you then the wind did!  But I still loved it, I think!  I just need to recover by next Saturday for the Fisson 20/20, so nothing to worry about then!

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