If you wanted to know who my favourite band was or which genre of music I preferred, I wouldn’t be able to answer. When it comes to band names or song names, I’m also a bit rubbish. Yes, I’m the kind of girl who, when at a Pub Quiz, will go: “You know the one!” And then try and sing the song rather tunelessly – think Never Mind the Bollocks meets tone deaf X Factor wannabe. It’s not that I don’t appreciate music, I have everything from opera to Drum’n’bass on my iPod, I’m just rubbish at remembering what I’ve listened to. That being said, it was thanks to my rather old Hospital Records podcast that I made it around the 17-lap marathon course that was the Kent Roadrunner Marathon. Here’s why music powered me to run the Kent Roadrunner marathon.
The first time I heard about the Kent Roadrunner Marathon was post the London Marathon. I think I may have picked up a leaflet at the event and thought, hey, it’s not far from the folks’ house, why not give it a try? It was also said to be ideal for those chasing PBs and I wanted to at least clock up a Good For Age London Marathon time in 2013. I went to sign up and was put on a waiting list until a place came available. Luckily, it did and so I paid the £32, which I thought was really reasonable considering the price of Nike’s 10k, and made a mental note of it in my race calendar.
All instructions for the race came a few days before via email and I glanced over it while at work and play. It wasn’t really until two days before that I thought, oh cripes, I’m running a 17-lap marathon, how am I going to keep track of my completed laps? So on the Friday evening I cut up 16 strips of paper all prepped for the following day (see exhibit A above). And yes, pre-race at about 7:20am, I asked my poor mother to fasten them around my arm (see exhibit B above). And so with my right arm mummified, I headed to the Cyclopark to register and pick up my number.
My dad dropped me off at around 8:30am – registration was between 7:30am – 8:45am) with the instructions to pick me up in four hours (it was like being a teenager again, except this time he was dropping me off in the early hours of a Saturday morning, not picking me up). I headed to the registration desk and then hung my head in embarrassment when they handed me over 16 plastic bracelets (see exhibit C).
The Cyclopark itself was all rather swanky with state-of-the facilities and a cafe for all the spectators who were hanging around. With a 9am start, it was soon time to head to the start line. Here, the organisers announced a few birthdays (nice touch) and the fact that is was a runner’s 100 marathons. We were told to drop off the bracelets in the black bin at the starting line every time we completed a 2.5km lap. Then we were off.
I’m not going to lie and say it was the most exciting course – 17 laps of what essentially is a cycle park is not the same as a beautiful train run. Put simply, the route was soft tarmac and a few hills. In fact, there was one hill in particular at around the 2km mark, so that’s half a km before you had to go around and do it all again, which was a toughie.
The race (if I can call it that)
It’s interesting mentally doing a ‘lap’ marathon because you know exactly where you are. No matter how many times you look down at your arm, you know that until you’ve run past the start line, one of those plastic bracelets is not going to magically disappear. It’s easy during the first few laps to work out your position in the race but as it continues and the super-elite lap you, you have no idea. You also get to know faces of the runners because the nature of a lap circuit means you can see them on the other side of the track. I did make a running buddy along the way, who I kept up with for around four laps, then he got faster but we would still wave and do thumbs-up signs as we crossed paths. It was this and my Hospital Records Drum’n’bass podcast, which was blasted from Bondai beach some two years ago, that kept me going. There was a water/drinks/snack stop just as you passed through the start/finish lap. I thought this was well-placed as you could ensure that you were well-hydrated and fuel up on one of my favourite snacks Clif shots.
Despite the repetitiveness of the race, I did feel a boost once every lap was completed and the commentary from the organisers was really encouraging. When I finally (finally reached) the last lap, I didn’t feel too knackered. It was such a relief to feel tired but not drained like at the London Marathon. There’s a lot to be said for the smaller races, where you don’t have the same atmosphere as London, but you also don’t have the same pressure.
I finished in 3:42:34 – not my best but I’m getting there and I’m happy with this result. There were post-race massages available and we were given a goody bag packed full of treats from Clif and even a packet of Golden Wonder. The medal was pretty hefty too.
The Kent Roadrunner Marathon does not have the prettiest route but the atmosphere is friendly among runners and it’s really well organised. I did receive an offer as a now ‘patron’ of the race to sign up for next year’s event. I may well do so as long as I have a new set of tunes to race to. Why don’t you join me and sign up here?