Friday, 28 March 2014

Gin Pit Marathon 2014 by Malc Collins

What a tiring 2 weeks! For me the Gin Pit marathon started when entries opened back in September but over the last 14 days it has been very intense. In the 2 week build up to the race I’ve been very busy with the final preparations, sorting out trophies, medals, collecting and distributing water, organising the fantastic team of volunteers and preparing all the timing and check point sheets. Not to forget the added complication of last minute drop outs and late entries to attend to.
If this is not enough the final few days leading up to the event is when I have to get the course marked and the signs put up. This year rain showers seriously hampered my efforts but what has become a family ritual, my Dad drove me round parts of the course on the day before the race to help me put up the final signs. Thanks Dad!

Firstly I want to thank all the volunteers that have kindly given up their time over the weekend to help with the race, especially as the weather has not been the best, imparticularly on the Saturday afternoon when we suffered a few nasty heavy rain and hail showers.

I want to thank the following people:-
My wife Yuk-Lam for lots of help in the build up to the event and over the weekend. My children; Abbey, for helping out in the kitchen especially on the Saturday and Lucas for entertaining everyone and not being a nuisance. Michaela for helping out at registration. Yuk-Lam’s sisters Han May, Yuk Wah and Yuen Wah for helping in the kitchen on the Sunday.
Jackie and Paul for getting all the water from Costco. And it was “A LOT” of water, 735 bottles!
Steve and my Dad for time keeping the marathon each day and Anita for time keeping the half down at Marsland Green Bridge on the canal.
The team of volunteers at the check points braving the cold wind and the showers, Craig Bradbury, Jonathan Hall, Emma Higgins, David Sloan, Claire Matchwick, Suzanne Gregory, Dave Crow, Gemma Lycycia, Neil Phillips, Phil Taylor, Chris and Lin Whittaker, Paul Collins, Dave Capner and Lynn Boylin.
Christine Farnworth and Clare Unsworth for marshalling in Mosley Common.
Cath Hodgetts, Louise Hampton and Colin Rigby for helping out at the finish.
Photographers; Terry Gardiner and Phil Taylor for capturing some lovely images of the event.
If I’ve forgotten anyone, thank you,  sorry and tell me off when you see me and I’ll add you to the above list.

I would also like to thank Maria from Stansfield Sports Injury Clinic and her team of physiotherapists who were on hand both days with advice and their massage skills to help the runners complete the two day challenge and start their recovery. If you would like to get in touch with them again please follow the link below:-

We also had Robin from Team Nutrition down at the Gin Pit on the Saturday imparting his wealth of knowledge regarding sports hydration, recovery drinks and products. They were offering free samples of their drinks. If you are interested in any of Robin’s products please follow the link below:-

It was the fourth year of the event but even though I’m getting more used to arranging it, it still keeps getting more demanding year on year. This year there has been more entrants and finishers. More arrows sprayed on the course and more signs put up, all taking extra time and energy. The reward for me is not only completing the event myself but knowing I’m giving other runners the opportunity to take on the challenge of running 2 marathons in 2 days which is a rare opportunity. The other important thing about this race is the money raised for charity. I’m pleased to announce this year we have raised £1390.79 for the Brathay Trust, a little known charity that does some great work with disadvantaged youths, improving their social skills to help them fit into society and reach their potential. They also work with young offenders, steering them away from drugs and crime and reducing their reoffending rates. Brathay also run Low Bank Ground and Hinning House in the Lake District which are two outdoor centres owned by Wigan Council where many children from local schools go, helping with their education and outdoor skills.

This fairly unique challenge again drew runners from then length and breadth of the country including; Cornwall, London, the Midlands, Wales and Scotland as well as a good number from the local area. The event attracts endurance runners including Ironmen, 100 marathon club runners, ultra runners and competitors from Brathay’s 10 marathons in 10 days challenge.

Now down to the race itself. The weather wasn’t too bad but it was a cold weekend with a westerly wind both days which gave a tough head wind for the whole 11 mile section of the course along the canal. There were also some seriously muddy sections to the course due to the wet weather over the past week making the course more difficult. We had 46 finishers on day 1 and 41 on day 2 with an impressive 30 of them completing both days. On the first day we had the first 2 runners Peter Cusick and Philip Eccleston dip under the 3 hour mark, very impressive times considering the conditions. On day 2 we had Joe Duckworth first home in 3 hours 4 minutes 19 seconds followed by Philip Eccleston and Peter Cusick. After checking the times the 2 day Challenge winner was Philip Eccleston for the second year running. Caroline Hemming of Spectrum Striders won the Ladies race both days and scooped the double trophy for an impressive third successive year!

As for me the race was all about finishing the 2 days and evaluating how my fitness was improving after only 4 weeks of consistent training. Over the past 4 weeks I’ve run 3 marathons and not managed to get under 4 hours yet and I was determined to improve my times. I took the first day fairly conservatively but at a pace that would bring me home inside the 4 hour barrier. I was very pleased to feel strong over the last 2 miles and finished in 3 hours 57 minutes 12 seconds. On day 2, I was pleased to not be aching from day 1 and planned a slightly faster pace. I ground out the 11 miles canal section into the head wind then pushed on to the finish with 3 hours 49 minutes 40 seconds. Another pleasing performance and I was even happier to be able to go out the next day and run 5 miles collecting some of my signs without aching.

I may not be back to my usual form but I’m pleased to see improvements and hopefully I’ll get back there in time for my Edinburgh marathon and half marathon challenge at the end of May.

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