Sunday, 2 March 2014

Cambridge Boundary Run 2014

The Cambridge Boundary Run
The Cambridge Boundary Run was to be the second marathon of the weekend after completing the Belvoir Challenge the day before. I stiffly got out of bed and loosened off on the way to bathroom. I knew today was going to be a challenge but I only wanted one thing - not to have the pelvis pressure of the previous day. Today's challenge was about finishing rather than competing. I knew I was in a bit of trouble when I struggled to get out of the car. My legs had stiffened up again during the drive and I had to extrapolate myself from the passenger seat using my hands and arms as much as my feet and legs. I hoped with some intensity that things would loosen off in the first few miles.

Catherine Payne & Coach McArdle
The clue is in the tile of the Cambridge Boundary Run. The route runs anti clockwise around the university city of Cambridge. The evidence of university city status is found when you meet the event organisers, a cast of able students under the banner of their running club, Cambridge University Hare and Hounds. I had read mixed reviews of the previous year's event which suggested that organisation was a bit "relaxed". Some folk from previous years complained of a lack of marshalls at road crossings and a lack of directional arrows to mark the route. I say learn to cross the road and carry a map. I took part in a good, no fuss event with a nice laid back feel. I think it only cost £10 to enter and entry incudes a cotton t-shirt. I arrived to start at 11am. I'd misread the race information because the event started at 11:30 meaning I had to loiter around the reception of the Holiday inn adjacent to race start for 30 minutes in a effort to keep warm.

The race organiser made a brief speech which concluded in rapturous applause from the assembled race prepared masses. The applause released a sense of anticipation that had been building around registration. I have no idea where this event travelled, I just followed the people in front (there was plenty) and I followed the markers on the ground that had been laid with flour and water, something I had not witnessed before but it proved effective.
My Favourite Hat
There was plenty of road during the first half of this event and in difference to yesterday's event, all the tracks were runable. I was grateful that I was able to 'run out' the initial stiffness in my legs and I was surprised to find that I was running at a strong pace in the first five miles. Most importantly, the pelvis pain had all but gone although it threatened from a distance. I was running so strong in the initial miles that I had to reign myself in a bit, there was a long way to go. Although I didn't know the route I guessed that the big modern grey building was Addenbrookes Hospital and I knew the airport that we ran alongside in the final few miles was Cambridge Airport. The other point of interest was the guided bus system.  On two occasions we ran adjacent to wide sunken roads that looked liked something a tram would run along but there were no tracks. In front of me there was a runner with Cambridge vest so I asked him about the guided bus. I asked him if the guided bus was a bus without a driver (I was thinking of the Docklands Light railway) he moved slightly away from me as we carried on running and answered in the negative whilst giving me a concerned type of puzzled look. I could of explained but its difficult to hold a conversation when your running so I ran on pondering the guided bus system as my new mate pondered my sanity. I still have no idea.

I had run strong to half way, 13 miles in 1:45 but I was beginning to tire. I blocked thoughts of' another half left to do' out of my mind and carried on. I had taken a back pack today. At the Belvoir Challenge I ran without any form of bag but I wasn't sure what the checkpoints at this event would offer so I took my own food. The checkpoints stocked sweets, biscuits and occasional bananas. Many folk ran this like a road marathon wearing nothing more than a t-shirt and shorts. I was grateful for my own supply of Jaffa cake bars, a couple of naff gels and some electrolyte tablets.      

A quick pit stop at 22 miles
By 20 miles I had had enough. By 22 miles I was getting lost. I ran passed a directional arrow that was attached to a post. Somehow it looked suspicious. The obvious route was straight on as the arrow suggested but when I looked up the alternative 'right' I thought I could see another arrow in the distance. I decided to take the obvious path and If I didn't find another arrow I would reluctantly retreat back to where I had come. Perhaps half a mile further on and after not passing any more arrows, a runner in front stood in the distance looking back at me with his hands in the air. We had gone wrong and it seemed we should have turned right. I retrieved a dishevelled map out of my pocket for the first time. The map was sodden with sweat and was hard to decipherer. Together me and the other runner managed to locate ourselves and we worked out that if we took a right now and ran along the road we should re-join the official route at about 23 miles. It was nasty going wrong so late in the run but by the time we repatriated I doubt we had lost much time.

The final three miles was really hard. I was looking forward to a water station but one never came. Eventually we reached Cambridge Airport. I knew from my pre race study of the map that we had to run the entire length of the airport on a road that runs parallel with the runway. I cursed the length of the runway which seemed to go on forever. I was able to pick up the pace in the last few miles. The runner I had helped with the map had run ahead but I reeled him in with about a mile to go and I passed a couple of other 'staggerers' that were clearly paying a price, perhaps for going off too fast earlier in the day. There was no stopping me after that point. It was time to run back to nice things like food and clothes and lager. I finished my second marathon in consecutive days in 3 hours 51 minutes that was 16 minutes quicker than the day before and I had slowed down considerably in the second half.  I sat with two good things, Tracy and a Stella whilst waiting for two other Grantham runners to cross the line. Coach McArdle came home in 4:15 and Catherine a minute earlier (4:14) only after leaving Robert to out sprint another female runner that she spotted in the final few hundred yards.



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