Sunday, 18 September 2011

Farnham Pilgrims Marathon 2011

We found the sign to the car park OK but somehow missed the one with 'Welcome to hell on earth' written on it! Today was the day of the Farnham Pilgrims Marathon, now in it's second year, this is probably one of the toughest marathons the south has to offer, extremely challenging with it's hills. So what better way to take on my first marathon!

There is a famous running quote that says "If I'm still standing after the marathon then push me over because if I've tried hard enough I should not be standing". Well believe me I was close to not be able to stand, so I guess I tried enough.

Like the Spitfire 20 a couple of weeks ago, I ran this race with friends Brian and Tim. Like the previous race Brian started strongly and after the early bottle neck where there was a couple of minutes wait to climb the first of many stiles, soon pulled away from me and Tim.

The upside to the challenging course is that the route takes in some stunning scenery along the North Downs and up to to the halfway point I was able to enjoy the views.
If your not in too much pain, the views are worth admiring.
The terrain of the course changes all the time, one minute you could be running on Tarmac, Sand, Trails and narrow mud pathways through fields. This course really does throw everything at you.
If you are looking for a PB on this course then forget it, however good you are. I say that because of three things 1) The Hills 2) The Stiles 3) The narrow pathways in places, because you just can't pass people until the route opens again.

The course is undulating from the start in the village 'The Sands' through Puttenham and then onto Guildford. But it's in Guildford that the course really gets challenging, in particular the halfway stage which is up St Martha's hill, a long steep climb up to the church, but the consolation is that the views are amazing. I've trained on this hill before and never managed to get up to the top, well today I almost made it but had to walk the final summit. This was a good chance to take a gel though and I recommend good fueling on this course although the plentiful water stops are stocked with biscuits, banana's and drinks.
The good water stops leads me on to praising the whole set up of the race. Brilliant cheerful marshaling, and a well run start and finish of the race. A medal and T-shirt at the finish and while you wait to collect these a choice of drinks and selection of cakes. You can also get a print out of the results there and then.

The hills of Guildford took their toll on me and I finally hit the wall at mile 19. I say I hit the wall but it was more like smashing into it. The legs were gone and even seeing my family at this point could not revive my spirits. The remaining miles were a mixture of mental games and running down and walking up the hills.

I was hit with a massive down pour about 10 minutes from the end but was lifted at the finish with a respectable time of 4:34:02 on such a tough course. I felt like I was walking more than running the final miles and expecting to come in over 5 hours.

Massive praise to Brian and Tim who finished in amazing times of 4:11:27 and 4:12:08 respectively.
Me telling tales of great adventures
 of the journey at the end of the race
A Burger King and a hot bath have gone a long way to take away the pain. To sum up the race, the organisation was second to none but the course was brutal. If you are up for a challenge I would highly recommend this but I am now looking forward to a flat London Marathon in 2012.

Everyones a Winner! Me,Tim and Brian


  1. Good god that sounds hideous. Glad you think London is flat as I am planning that as my first and only marathon! Well done.

  2. Well done mate! Sounds a bit like my first marathon last April. Hope the recovery is going well, don't forget the liquid carbs (beer) :-)