|Date:||04 Dec 2016|
|Comments:||After collecting air miles for 10 years, I realised that my wife Claire might have a point when she said we should spend them. She turned out to be an expert at this,
and very quickly I discovered we had booked a once-in-a-lifetime (or once-a-
decade?) trip to the Caribbean. And if you’re flying to the other side of the world,
you might as well do the local marathon, right?
Frankly, the biggest endurance test of the holiday was getting a toddler to Gatwick, wrangling him through airport security and keeping him entertained on a
9-hour flight, but that’s a whole other story.
The marathon though was challenging for several reasons: (1) I had genuinely done
zero marathon training. I had decided not to put any pressure on myself in the
build-up to the race, make no attempt at a fast time, and simply just run it as a test
of my background fitness. It seemed like an excellent idea at the time. (2)
Barbados in December is hot. Really hot. It never got below 30 degrees the entire
week, even at night. (3) The start is at 5am.
Organisation-wise, the race was a curious mixture of shambles and unique
touches. Courtesy buses were widely announced in the race day info packs. These
would take people from various stops along the south coast of the island to the
early morning start in Bridgetown...but they never showed up. I managed to
scrounge a lift from a fellow runner, but for others there was a lot of last-minute
hitch-hiking, taxi rides and unexpected warm-up miles. On the other hand, this is
the only race I have ever done where officials would cycle alongside me and ask if I
needed water or gels. There was a deep concern for runners’ welfare.
88 runners lined up for the marathon, with a further 300 running the simultaneous
half. Not a huge field, but enough to get a sense of occasion. The course was 2
laps of an out-and-back route, going from the capital Bridgetown up the west
coast to Holetown and back. Some of it was very scenic, and you have the rare
pleasure of seeing the sun rise over the sea in the middle of the race. On the
downside, much of the course is on a bland highway, with a few nasty hills, and
roadside support was limited. However, I can forgive the race all of this because at
5.30am I ran past a rum shack where the party was still going from the night
before, and showed no signs of stopping. For some reason this made me feel that
all was right with the world.
The race itself got much tougher in the second half. I was no longer cruising
alongside half marathoners, and found myself running alone in blazing heat.
Although I had been running at a relatively easy pace for me, at 20 miles my lack of
training became obvious, and I was forced to adopt a painful walk-run strategy. I
crossed the line in 3:53, my 2nd slowest marathon ever, but my highest-ever
position (14th place)! I took comfort in the fact that the hot and humid conditions
had made it tough for everyone, with the women’s winner apparently chundering
repeatedly from 21 miles onwards. Although the first 3 men all finished in times
around the 2:30-2:40 mark, the 4th-place finisher was a local runner who finished
in 3:20. This is not a PB race.
However, if you want to experience something different, and where you can get a
cold coconut water and walk straight into the sea at the finish, before tucking into
beautifully grilled mahi-mahi fish with peas’n’rice, then I can heartily recommend
it. Just don’t expect the buses to turn up.
|Previous HRR results:||None found.|