Brighton Marathon review – third time lucky (Part 1)

Finally I caught a break with the weather at Brighton. Yes, it was still sunny (and I did manage to get sun burnt!) but crucially the temperature remained cool, and the only real problem was the stiff breeze we ran into for the last few miles along the seafront. All in all a great race and a great weekend, and this is how it unfolded.

Friday

I took the decision to drive down to Brighton and pick up my number on Friday, as I was off work and it seemed a more appealing option than a Saturday afternoon stuck in traffic, trying to find a parking space and then queuing for my number, which took an hour in 2017. I left home at 9am, was down there by 10:30am, parked at the Marina and walked along to the race village on the beach. It’s a great and unique location, and it seemed bigger than in 2017 which I believe was the first time they’d had it there. There was no queue for the number so I was in and out in 5 minutes. I had a little look around the village, but decided to save my pennies for the London Marathon Expo, which happily coincides with my next pay day! Job done and I was back home just after 1pm.

Saturday

With my number safely collected there was no need to rush around Saturday. Having packed and had some lunch we headed off around 2pm for the drive to Lewes where we were staying, taking the scenic cross-country route down through the Sussex countryside. Our hotel was right in the middle of town and having checked in and sorted ourselves out we headed out for a little wander around to get our bearings before our meal at Ask. We bumped into another Maidstone Harrier (Becky) and her husband in there, and had a quick catch-up as I hadn’t seen her for a few weeks. Having eaten it was then time for the now-traditional pre-marathon beer, a very nice pint of the local Harvey’s brew in the ‘Rights of Man’ just along from where we’d eaten.

Sunday – Miles 1 to 13.1

I’d booked myself on the park and ride service from Brighton’s football stadium for race day. It’s a great service and it was only 10 minutes drive from Lewes, so no need to worry about parking or traffic, perfect for a stress-free start to the day. I had a nice chat with a couple from Norwich on the bus, and we arrived at Preston Park where the race begins at around 8:30am, so plenty of time to take care of everything before the 9:45am start.

The time actually went pretty quickly. I bumped into various Harriers, although our attempt at a group shot didn’t go quite as we’d hoped, but a few of us made it. The toilet situation was much improved from 2017, although the bag drop was a little chaotic, but not a major issue, and I was in my starting pen with around 5 minutes to spare. Not that’s there’s a great rush with chip timing these days anyway.

A few of the Harriers
Time to start!

Despite the sunshine it was still quite chilly, so I started the race in my Harriers vest and arm warmers, knowing I had the option to take them off later if I needed to. Whilst I felt a little nervous as we walked towards the start line I also felt relaxed and quietly confident, reminding myself of my race plan and the splits I wanted to run. Before I knew it we were off, and almost immediately running up the hill behind the park which isn’t the easiest of starts!

Despite being a seaside race you don’t see the sea for the first 5 miles as you loop around the city centre past the famous Royal Pavilion and up a couple of short sharp climbs before you finally come out onto the coastal road. The first half of the race took us east into the breeze towards Rottingdean, and it’s an undulating road although the climbs are fairly gentle. After the turnaround point I decided to try out something new and put some music on, as I had new Aftershokz bone conduction headphones and I was curious to see if listening to music would help at all.

By now, around the 10 mile point I’d settled into a good steady rhythm and was knocking out consistent splits around the 9:30 minute per mile mark. The plan was to try and have something left for the second half of the race, and even a 90 second loo break didn’t disrupt me. In fact I started to pick up the pace a little after that, as we now had the breeze behind us and there was also a steady gentle descent back down towards the pier past the 11 mile point. There were fantastic crowds around the course and they were at their biggest around the pier as we headed past there towards half way, which I reached in 2:06.

First half splits – spot the loo break!

All that stood between me and the finish now was the long out and back straight road in Hove and the infamous Shoreham Power Station loop…….to be continued.

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