The first sunny Friday in July …… 3rd July 2015. After 103 years of the Elstead Marathon, Blackwater Valley Runners once again decided to grace the event with our presence, the blue and yellow t-shirts would once again be worn in solidarity!
This event is always tough “it’s a marathon” well actually just over 5 miles, but always a very entertaining 5 miles.
Elstead Marathon starts in an alleyway beside the Woolpack pub, goes straight onto tarmac roads for about 1 mile, first obstacle car wing mirrors and parked cars, dodging these can be tricky, this year an added hosepipe to dampen us down! This leads onto the Elstead Common, where runners meet the second obstacle – horse poop (you know the No 1 club rule “if it smells – don’t run through it!”) skilfully most experienced runners missed! As you pass the moat after another mile the first signs of “normal people” supporters cheering, across the road into obstacle number three – badly rutted track, at the end of this is a much needed water stop, it always seems hot on this race.
Once refreshed you are back on your way to Hankley Common towards obstacle number four – a hill -not a big one, but seems to catch your breath out?! Down the other side you reach the sand for the fifth obstacle, keep to the right? Seems a hard surface! Suddenly this changes into deep sand! Go to the left? and changes again! This soon leads onto the bumpy track which has been worn away by 20ft puddles, luckily dry this year, these craters go up and down like a rollercoaster this goes on for ages, suddenly you are going towards a field…a nice grass field? NO a pampas grass field of lumps and bumps, go too fast and you keel over, slow down and you are overtaken by a daredevil not concerned for his or her future running career, once over the barbed wire 12 inch tripwire, you are onto the weir gates, you can hear the crowds cheering people on, or is it in! You are a couple of seconds away from a public soaking … splash! Straight into the river Wey to cheers from the baying crowds, not wanting to look too silly you go over to a very steep slippery mud bank, EVERYONE is watching you!!! Eventually you get a grip with people screaming around you to hurry up!! Once up the bank it’s along the last 300 metres to the finish on the green (I was overtaken with 100 metres to go and accepted my defeat …. however I saw this runner slow down as she headed towards the line … my thoughts changed “I am wearing BVR colours”, “I can do this!” … head down, I sped past my target.. YES VICTORY!!!!, I spent the next two minutes saying sorry to the runner, “it’s only a race”, I had been in her position ☺ it hurts!).
But at the end of the day ….it’s not just a race it’s “the Elstead Marathon”.
103 years of history have made this race interesting, challenging for all, with a great supporting atmosphere. Many a race director could learn from this old race! We followed the race in the traditional way and went to the pub, another happy memory with BVR.
Scott Kennedy obviously did not find it as hard as myself in an amazing 3rd place, Alex Radford 20th, Andy Ratcliffe 50th place.
A great turnout of 35+ Blackwater Valley Runners, three years ago there was just four of us doing this race!