On Sunday October 9 my dad and I took part in the second running of the Chester Marathon. It was the first marathon that we had run together since the London Marathon in April where we had both run personal best times. A few days before the Chester Marathon we had received verbal confirmation from the Guinness World Records that our combined time was the fastest parent and child time and would become an official world record. We headed to Chester with a support crew of my mum, Eileen, and my brother Harvey. It was also great to have friend and fellow Bellahouston Roadrunner Bryan Burnett providing the start and finish commentary for the event.
The world record news provided us with a timely boost to our confidence going into the race. The Chester Marathon starts and finishes in Chester Racecourse and crosses the Welsh border meaning that approximately 17 miles of the race are in England and 9 are in Wales. As far as I am aware this in the only marathon in the UK that crosses any borders which added to the appeal of the race. Around 3,000 people took to the streets to run the race and there were an estimated 10,000 enthusiastic and friendly supporters on the course cheering the runners on.
The weather at the start was ideal for running with the temperature being around 15 degrees celsius with a gentle breeze. As the race progressed it did get windier to make the conditions more challenging.
We ran around a section of the racecourse on the grass and then headed out onto the streets of Chester. I started near the front and went out a bit quicker than I had planned and was in the top 10 for the first few miles with the lead runners still in sight.
Daniel Weston from Wrexham AC set the early pace with pre-race favourite Ben Fish from Blackburn Harriers in a small pack about 50 metres back. As I started to drop back further down the field and the lead pack disappeared out of sight I could see that Ben Fish was closing the gap.
The route was gently undulating along country roads and through some lovely small towns and villages on the English/Welsh border. As my pace dropped I felt like I was being taunted in two languages with the words SLOW and ARAF painted across the roads.
The last couple of miles included some of the steepest undulations of the course but the quaint cobbled streets and running under the beautifully preserved Roman wall and back onto the racecourse more than made up for those tricky miles. As a tribute to the event being staged at a racecourse and to try to get some amusing race finish photographs I ran the last few metres of the race impersonating a jockey. I finished in a time of 2:44:01 and was 11th overall. Bob Reid from Bellahouston Roadrunners also made the trip down from Glasgow and had a great run to finish in 2:57:20.
My dad had a mixed run. He ran the first half in an excellent 1:31, but was troubled by an ankle injury in the second half and ended up completing the race in 3:29 which still placed him a very good 5th in the MV60 category.
Our next marathon together will be London next year where we will be joined by my brother Harvey who has secured a place via the ballot after several years disappointment of missing out.
The male race was won by Ben Fish who ran an incredibly evenly split race to run the first half in 1:13:37 and the second half in 1:13:48. Second was John Clarke of Newham and Essex Beagles in 2:31:57 and third was Tim Hawkins of Wells City Harriers in 2:36:25.
In the women's race Debbie Mason of Rotherham Harriers was first in 2:48:11, second was Liz Hartney of Reading Roadrunners in 2:52:48 and third was Sarah Lomas of Stockport Harriers in 2:54:34.
As with most marathons it wasn't all about the running, it also aimed to support local communities and charities. The expectation is that this event could have raised as much as £500,000 for charitable causes across the region, with the Hospice of the Good Shepherd and the Claire House Children's Hospice being the two main race charities this year.