A Journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step

Neolithic Marathon - May 2006 Neolithic 2006

This marathon having been my main fundraiser of 2004 is part of my training for the Pembrokshire Coast Path in 2006.

My preparation for this was not typical for a marathon. In my 'taper' the week before involved 40 miles of running, 25 of them on the Saturday, the day before the Neolithic. Part of my reasoning for this is that I need to be sure that I can do consecutive days of long distances. I had done the Compton 40 and Coombe Gibbet-Overton on consecutive days in March and this time I was trying a marathon on the second day.

Initially I thought I would easily better my time of 2004, but as I am focusing on slow steady running for the end of May that was not going to happen. Instead I offered to run with a couple of other people, RogerDodge and Plodding Hippo from RW forums, to pace them around, as Gobi had for me at Compton. Pace them around means stopping them going off too fast, if they are in front of me then they are going too fast.
We met up just before the start at the registation and briefing. The sun which had been out as we drove into Avebury was now behind clouds which made it much more comfortable for running.

Walking to the start
We started of at the back of the field and it became evident very quickly that I would not have to stop RD (it was his first marathon) from starting off too fast. By the time we had reached the top of the long drag upto Tan Hill we only had walkers in sight as the rest of the runners were some way ahead. But we were keeping to a nice slow pace which was good for Rog and for my training for Pembroke.

RD and PH on the long drag up to Tan Hill
My camera phone either got condensation/sweat or flapjack on the lens because although I took more pictures, they are so poor that it looks as though we are running through banks of fog!
We managed to resist the very tempting smells of bacon rolls at All Cannings which were being prepared on a BBQ outside the pub. After All Cannings there were flat fields to cross before the road up to Redhorn Hill, another good aspect of this run is that no matter how slowly you run there is a seemingly endless trail of Sarsen Walkers to pass. So even when we had passed onto Salisbury Plain which I did not know so well we could see the route to follow because of the trail of walkers.
After we had passed about the 20 mile point Rog was having cramping problems, I intended to tell him that the second half of a marathon is the last 6 miles but I didn't want to say this until we had finished, then I forgot. Another advantage of passing Sarsen walkers was the they all very encouraging as we passed them and one couple were even running with us near the end

Coming into the finish
The time keepers had gone by the time we got in but PH asked them to add our finish time (6:23) to the end of the results.
So a pretty successful day for all of us, RD finished his first marathon, PH got another marathon to add to her 100 marathon club list (>30 at the moment) once it is officailly recorded, and I confirmed that I could do consecutive days of +20 miles.