Malvern Midsummer Marathon 2013 – Report

At the start of the Malvern Midsummer Marathon 2013

At the start of the Malvern Midsummer Marathon 2013 (author on left)

Having left home before 0700 both Steve and I arrived at the start point for the Malvern Midsummer Marathon and registered in good time. All that was left to do was to have a cup of tea and assess the requirements for warmer clothing and raincoat. As it turned out the forecast rain was only occasional cooling drizzle, so we could have left the macs behind. At the start there was a mad dash at the start up the Old Wyche Road, notwithstanding the gradient, captured on video for posterity (see video below, thanks Gavin).

The route was fairly straightforward, having scoped, and between myself and Steve memorised most of it in advance. Others had not done so. At about the 3.5 mile point the public footpath forked, the correct route was left, a large gaggle of people turned right – we didn’t. At the Cradley checkpoint at 5.25 miles most of the people that we were walking near stopped for a drink, Steve and I pressed on and therefore found ourselves out on our own. Judging from the tracks in the grass there were probably only four people in front of us now and this remained the case until the runners (who started an hour later) started to pass us. I think that the first runner went past at about the 9 mile mark, though I didn’t make a note of the actual distance. As it transpired a number of the runners may have been stopping at Ledbury (i.e. only doing the “easy” just under half of the course) and therefore they could afford to expend a bit more energy. Some of the faster “walkers” who took the early wrong turn did catch us up in the last third of the course.

When we got to Ledbury we had about a 10 minute stop, taking advantage of a cup of tea, cake and small slice of pizza. The LDWA had a good spread of food and their hospitality was excellent throughout. After Ledbury we pressed on towards Eastnor and the big loop round to the south end of the hills. We picked the peaks off one by one. Chase End Hill was a bit of a struggle and the steep downhill part was painful. Ascending Raggedstone Hill, which is a long and steep climb, was just as bad as I had remembered, though Steve made very good time and was actually catching some of the runners up these hills. Towards the end I was only making slow progress on the uphill stretches and Steve carrying on at his own pace was about 250 yds in front after Perseverance Hill (the track suggests I was doing 2.77 mph here). However, after this final big peak I just about broke into a run, reaching 4.25 mph and caught Steve up again, so we were able to complete the last 3/4 mile and finish together in an official time of 7 hours 28 minutes. We await the results to be published, but I anticipate this will be enough to put us in the top 50% of finishers (update: results at the bottom of this post).

Here is the link to the live track that many of you followed on the internet. A couple of things to note about this:

  • I started the track about 6 mins before race start, so this needs to be subtracted and explains the difference between the track time and the official time.
  • This track is slightly lower fidelity than reality to conserve some battery power when updating the site live, so the distance of 25.98 miles is a slight underestimate (By how much? See below.)

I also recorded a higher fidelity track that is closer to the actual track followed (below). This is closer to the real distance, so it looks like we covered about around 26.75 miles at an average speed of 3.59 mph. Which is good against the target of 8 hours and 3.28 mph.

Previously I posted about the planned speeds around the route. There were a couple of differences between the plan and the actual. Firstly, the route that I planned for was different in the first 3.5 miles to Cradley, however the overall gradients and terrain were broadly similar. Secondly there is the issue of the track smoothing (mentioned above) as I have used the low fidelity track to get these speeds (basically it is easier and quicker). Notwithstanding these points (and starting the track 6 mins before race start) the actual speeds around the course match fairly well with the plan (below). The main differences were:

  • A bit of early running along the new road sections.
  • A slow mile 13 – we stopped in Ledbury for a nice cup of tea for around 10 mins.
  • Faster speeds on the later hills towards the end, mainly thanks to Steve’s pace making.

The speeds up Chase End Hill and Ragged Stone Hill were 2.6 mph and 2.58 mph against the plan of 2.6 mph for both. The main lesson learned would be if this event is attempted again some extra training to give a bit more speed up the hills would be a good way to knock minutes off the total time.

The results from the Malvern Midsummer Marathon 2013 can be found at the LDWA Heart of England site here. In summary:

  • 304 entrants
  • 249 starters
  • 232 finishers, 17 retired at one of the checkpoints
  • Fastest time: 3 hrs 57 mins, there were 9 finishers under 5 hrs
  • This years target was to finish in the top 50% of starters, this would be around 8 hrs
  • My time was 7 hrs 28 mins
  • My position was 99th out of 249 starters. Target achieved!
  • The top 25% finished in under 6 hrs 30 mins, this is next years targets!
  • The total money I raised for Cystic Fibrosis Trust was £346.25, thanks to everyone who sponsored me.

So, that’s it for this year. Thanks to Steve for joining me in the event, Re for sticking with myself and Steve for about the last 8 miles, we enjoyed the comradeship, the LDWA for hosting a great event and thanks to everyone who has sponsored me to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

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