I’m not doing the London Marathon this year. I did it in 2010 and as part of my training I did the three Marathon training runs expertly organised by The Gade Valley Harriers who every year do a 12mile (jan) 17mile (feb) and 20mile (mar) event. These runs are well marshalled, with water stops, jelly babies 3 miles from the finish and a good crowd of around 200 entrants and all for a fiver which goes to charity so what’s not to like.
Weather this year, as most, was cold (4deg) a little misty but dry overhead if a little wet underfoot.
Starts are penned according to expected finish times and this helps the congestion as runners descend towards the steps to the canalpath which is strictly a single file affair. Once underway, the canalpath stretch for the first 3 miles is what it is; uneventful,, muddy and flat. The fun starts at mile 3 when you head off up a Chiltern to the first water stop at mile 4. This is a real lung-opener but once conquered you are rewarded with a pleasant and largely flat 2 miles then a descent to mile 7. The scenery is stunning; Queen Elizabeth’s wood, Yonder Cottage, Pubs you promise to revisit for fireside Sunday lunches all pass each one logged for future reference.
A 60 metre climb up to Potten End is the last uphill you’ll face on this route and from there (did I mention the jelly babies at mile 9?) you start to focus on the finish. Mile 10 will most likely be your fastest mile – it’s windmill-arms downhill all the way to the canal again and then one canalside mile to the 12-mile marker (the finish for most) just short of the now steamy clubhouse where pastries and cake await you to be shared with tea and stories.
I plan to take a camera up to the next event – the 17 miler at end Feb; the route is a stunner through Ashridge forest, past the college.
I didn’t spot Gade Valley Harriers “Tom” this year – a wiry pensioner usually sporting a Gade Valley Harriers vest and shorts in all weather. Hope he’s ok.