So here I am again, at beautiful Samphire Hoe, standing around on a grey and slightly windy day waiting to start another marathon. It was cool to begin with but soon warmed up and turned into a glorious day.
|That bit of blue sky looked promising|
This being the Tolkien marathon, Traviss had encouraged people to dress up accordingly and he was sporting a very dapper waistcoat - Rachel had a matching skirt which you'll see later.
|He looks so innocent doesn't he? But beware, this man can convince you to do very silly things (in the nicest possible way of course)!|
|Here we have Gandalf, aka Karen, chatting with James. James is a very speedy runner but had a couple of injuries so was taking it easy yesterday. He even ran a lap with me so now he's experienced life in the slow lane!|
|James's mum Becky who always comes along an helps out at the feed station|
|On the left, wearing his newly-earned blue and yellow 100 club vest, we have Lord Vader, aka Paul (amongst other names!) the self-proclaimed Ambassador for the 100 marathon Club.|
|Maryanne sporting her traditional wig and fab leggings (I love them!) hoping that she will soon be like Gary who was running his 100th marathon there|
Before the start Traviss made the usual announcements. Here he's holding up a race number 100 which both Gary, seen in the foreground, and Karen would be wearing on the day. They'd chosen to celebrate their amazing achievement together although Karen actually completed her 100th marathon last weekend.
The next few photos show Karen being presented with her hard-earned celebratory medal and new running vest:
|Fab his 'n' hers Tolkien fabric on waistcoat and skirt!|
|Gandalf get's her medal….|
|.…but then there was the running vest to contend with….|
|….which was rather tricky when you're a wizard with a very long beard….|
|….but help was on hand!|
|She is indeed 'Bionic' as she had broken so many bones in falls during yet still carried on to finish. Fabulous achievement Karen!|
|A melee of runners before the start (with thanks to Dee for this and the next 4 photos)|
|May Chan gives me her pearls of wisdom. We then realise that we're right at the front which is inappropriate!|
I wasn't aiming for a time but wanted something beginning with a 5 rather than going over the 6 hours mark although I wasn't going to push because I've got a 31 miler in a few days. I decided to just run at whatever pace felt good.
|Up the first incline|
|….out onto the cinder path….|
|….over the hills and far away|
It looks like a real Hobbit adventure doesn't it! I thought I wouldn't need to take any more photos this time as it's the third time I've run this route but there's always something different catches my eye. I promised myself that I wouldn't stop to take photos until my last lap.
The sun came out almost as soon as we started running and lots of us peeled off our layers. Everywhere looked glorious in the sunshine - the sea and sky were the most amazing colours. The section of concrete along the sea wall was so hot although the wind helped take away some of the heat (thankfully it wasn't as a strong as last time!). I kept making a mental note of things I wanted to photograph later.
The next 2 photos are courtesy of Philip and show Rik Vercoe pushing a babby buggy with dear little Phoebe inside.
|It's hard enough just running a marathon let alone pushing a buggy, dealing with nappy changes etc and still finishing in a stonking time of 4:34:31. Amazing!|
|What an absolute sweetheart!|
Rik is yet another inspirational runner who in 2013 set the British record for the most marathons completed in 365 days when he ran 152 races of marathon distance and more. He also organises his own events at Phoenix Running and it looks as if all the Race Directors are catching on to our need for bling - just check out the one on his homepage!
There was happy banter with fellow runners throughout. It's lovely running with such friendly people. I looked on in awe as Maria completed lap after lap on crutches having worried at the start that she'd even complete one.
|Marvellous Maria who completed 6 laps, 23.1 miles on what must have been rather challenging terrain, especially on that cinder slope!|
|Helen kept her elfine dress and cape on throughout and won a prize as a result.|
The railway line runs alongside one section and so we frequently saw trains going past. I waved at most of them and even got a blast on the horn from one driver. Didn't see any passengers waving back though.
I felt really good throughout and could probably have got in around 5:30 if I'd run the last lap but I wanted to walk the concrete section and take in the beauty of the place so that's exactly what I did. The photos start after the first incline:
|The Car Fellowship of the Ring|
|Maryanne coming towards base camp before heading out for her last lap. I told her she'd soon be overtaking me, and she did!|
|The long and winding road|
|How pretty the sea looked|
|Rust-coloured reeds stood out amidst the greener foliage of grasses and other plants|
|This was taken at the top of the cinder slope which leads to the start of the sea wall and the dreaded concrete|
|As you round that first bend the expanse of concrete looks interminable - feels like it too after 7 laps!|
|But the cliffs looked stunning|
|My eyes were drawn to the patterns, shapes and colours. To the eye of a knitter they would make interesting Fair Isle patterns.|
|Oh my goodness, those colours! The turquoise of the sea, azure-blue sky and the almost metallic-beetrooty-aubergine of the seaweed viewed against the lichen on the concrete.|
|In close-up there are so many colours and patterns within it.|
|So many shapes and patterns.|
|Just look at the different colours of the rocks too and that rusty-colour that's leached down the side of the chalk.|
Now, what am I supposed to be doing? Oh yes, completing the last lap of a marathon. Sorry, I got sidetracked!
|May and I took photos of eachother (as you do!)|
|There had been new rock falls since I was last here. Again there's a rusty coloured tint and I wondered what had caused that?|
I finally trundled home in 5:42:43 and Philip kindly took this photo of me with my medal.
|Happy girl (thanks for the photo Philip)|
|Isn't that a fabulous medal? We expect nothing less from Traviss and Rachel now though!|
The fun didn't end there though as there were still celebrations. Here's Karen beside Dee in front of her special cake, made by Heather as always.
Karen and Gary had shared a cake so half of it was vegan for Gary and the other was normal. I love the little figures - Karen's has a crutch and a sling!
|Look at the cake on the right too. It's in the shape of a ring.|
Now Gary had completed his 100th marathon it was time for the presentation.
|I think Traviss just likes climbing up onto things!|
|Here comes the special tee shirt|
|Here he is with his lovely lady, Mandy.|
Many thanks to Traviss and Rachel for another fabulous event.
Now technically this should mark the end of my 2015 challenge for Alzheimer's Research UK because it was based on the number of years I've been running, 13 years, which coincidentally was also the sum total of my age this year, 58; so 5+8 = 13. This satisfied my inner maths geek and also made it challenging enough to attract sponsors old and new who have generously donated to my cause yet again. Thank you to everyone for your continued support.
In the meantime, however, I had met Traviss and Rachel and experienced so many of their wonderful events where I've met some truly inspirational people that I started to believe that I could push myself even harder and so it was that I started my 60 by 60 campaign this year (which I was going to launch next year thus giving me 18 months in which to reach my 60th marathon when I turn 60 in 2017).
One thing inevitably lead to another and I realised that as I've been running quite well this I could aim to get to 60 marathons by December this year. Still 7 more to do this year though……...