Duchy Marathon and 20 – 8th March 2009

 “Oooh! I just know that something good is going to happen” – Kate Bush

The omens were far from good, however. Last Sunday’s balmy Spring sunshine and light winds had given way to a weather system more befitting the Duchy Marathon – a race that seems perpetually jinxed by inclement conditions. Strong westerlies and hail showers looked set to dash the PB plans of many – even modest goals like an early finish and a post race rub down seemed like distant prospects.

Lining up for the full distance were five plucky MBH’ers: Me, Sam P, Tammy R, Sue T and daughter Nicky. “Pecs” Perkins had been talking a good race on the Forums – was he about to eat those fancy words? Time would tell. Tammy was hoping for an improvement over the mark she set in her 2008 marathon debut at Tresco. Not too much to ask on a good day, but the monsoon that hit 10 mins before the race start may have given her pause for thought.

James T, Ian M, Ian R and Jer were taking on the 20 as a warm up for London. Mark O managed, sensibly to get a note from Matron, and stayed at home with his feet up, doubtless with some “grown up” Lemsip close to hand.

Two Guinness World record attempts were to feature in the days proceedings – both attempted by a team of Army Officer Cadets from Exeter Uni. One lad was going to attempt the race in full military rig: big shiny black boots and khaki camouflage (no 50lb pack on his back though, so I wasn’t overly impressed). The remainder were going to do the race linked together – 28 of them. A team from the Met had held the record of 24 for less than a year. “Hope no-one needs a pee”, I mused, as the slightly less eccentric participants started to sort themselves out.

The gun goes off unexpectedly, deafening several people and causing a premature flood of adrenalin that made me leap sideways! It was only a test…tsk! At the second BANG!, the field heads off up the driveway of the Penventon and the game’s afoot.
Conditions along the North Cliffs have been officially rated “grim”, so my plan involves flooring it from the start, crawling along the cliffs, then flooring it again at the turn. This approach served me quite well in 2006, right up until the 22 mile point when my legs stopped working. Since then, i’ve taken to wearing a Camelbak – they hold all the energy drink you’ll need over 26 miles, and contrary to what i’d been warned, they don’t weigh much or chafe your shoulders. Try one – you won’t regret it.

On lap one of the cliffs, I manage to hold onto a group containing some fast Cornwall AC guys doing the 20. Unconsciously, they drift into an echelon formation, like a group of Belgian cyclists and the full force of the wind is diminished. It’s negated altogether for one lucky shortarse, who burrows his way into the pack only to vanish into the distance after the turn! A welcome tailwind propels us swiftly up the little drag near Hells Mouth before the drop down to Coombe (and the drag up to Tolvaddon, which never seems that hard on the first lap).

By this time, the field was thinning out nicely and a glance at my watch on the half marathon point showed the same time as 2006 – encouraging, but there was still another lap of the cliffs to go. In the time it took to loop back around to the top of the hill out of Portreath, conditions had deteriorated markedly. The strong westerlies were touching gale force. A sorry looking group of Army Cadets manned a superfluous sponge station close to mile 17. Their forlorn expressions failed to garner any takers, and the table full of watery blue briquettes remained undisturbed.

Along the three mile slog to Hells mouth, solo this time, I staggered to a standstill on a few occasions, buffeted by the giant invisible hand of an Air Elemental. Each blow was taking a powerful toll on my reserves, so the turn was a lifesaver. This time the effect of the tailwind was even more pronounced and I shot upwards to the 20 mile marker. I checked my watch again – 2:24 – I had 50 minutes to run 10k and still get my GFA place for London next year. That knowledge made the remaining few miles a cakewalk (well, maybe a Hevva Cake walk!). At 25 miles, the watch said 3:02 – failing any freak happenings (drive-by shooting, divine lightning bolts?) it was in the bag. I reached the finish line on 3:10:17, cheered in with high fives from Ian, Jer, Nige and Eve. After a quick drink and a mars bar, thoughts of a warm shower and a quick escape were uppermost in my mind.

After a freezing shower, a look at the results convinced me to stick around – there was swag to be collected! I managed 2nd Male 45-49, pipped by a minute or so by Ben Hieber of NRR (blub blub!).

As the awards ceremony got under way there were more surprises in store:

2nd Ladies Team! – Sue Taylor, Nicky Taylor, Tammy Rosewall

1st Female 55-59! – Sue Taylor 3:47:03

PB’s for: Tammy – a thumping 12 minutes off her Tresco time! Sam P – 26 mins off his (you have to ask – was he really trying before!?), and…er, me :-)

Here’s the final scores on the doors for all you stats freaks:

The Marathon:

10 3:10:17 HUTCHISON, Don Mounts Bay Harriers Male Vet 45-49 07:15.6 55
42 3:31:29 PERKIN, Sam Mounts Bay Harriers Male under 40 08:04.2 89
62 3:46:30 TAYLOR, Nicky Mounts Bay Harriers Female under 35 08:38.5 241
63 3:47:03 TAYLOR, Sue Mounts Bay Harriers Female Vet 55-59 08:39.8 105
120 4:18:30 ROSEWALL, Tammy Mounts Bay Harriers Female under 35 09:51.8 99

and the 20:

24 2:24:46 TAYLOR, James Mounts Bay Harriers Male under 40 07:14.2 459
30 2:30:04 MARSTON, Jeremy Mounts Bay Harriers Male under 40 07:30.1 441
31 2:30:13 MATTHEWS, Ian Mounts Bay Harriers Male Vet 40-44 07:30.5 442
91 3:00:45 RAGGETT, Ian Mounts Bay Harriers Male under 40 09:02.1 481


That was the Grand Prix news at the end of another good day for The Mighty Bay – I bid you all goodnight.

Don “AikenDrum” H

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