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 The Goodwood Running GP - Marathon

Goodwood Running GP Marathon

Following running the London Marathon in April 2023 with a time of 5 hours 20 minutes, I wanted another attempt for my target time of 4hours 30mins. The first available marathon near to me was the Goodwood Running GP 11 laps of the motor racing circuit. Having previously run a 20-mile event there in February as part for my London Marathon training, I knew the venue. My worry was again the weather. Will running 9am to 1.30pm on 2 July 2023 be too hot?  The UK had just experienced the hottest June on record so the omens were not good. I checked the forecast every day leading up to the event and it appeared we were in for a cooler spell albeit windy.

Goodwood being circuits has the advantage that you don’t have to carry supplies of fuel with you. I placed a cool box on a wall near the finish line, loaded with bottles of chilled water of with two bottles were frozen to chill the box. I also froze a bottle of freshly-squeezed orange juice which I will do again and had a bottle of coconut water which I won’t - it is frankly disgusting. Also included my pit stop supplies of 9 Gels, raisins and protein bars which I found are far too dry to consume during a run. The frozen water which never fully defrosted even after 3 hours was useful for adding water provided by the venue as it cooled it down.  

"With great power, comes great responsibility"

Spiderman - Daniel RusbyIn the warm up area Spiderman was seen squeezing into his skin tight suit and posing for spidey photos. I wanted to finish ahead of him. One last trip to the loo and I found men plastering themselves with a lotion that filled the room with the smell of menthol, perhaps they were self-embalming themselves just in case.

The Goodwood Running GP

The GP has 5k, 10k, half, 20-mile, marathon and 50km events. The longer event the earlier the start as each starts in 15 minute intervals. This means after an hour or so, marathoners are joined by the 5k and 10k skinny, white-legged park runners, sprinting around like gazelles running from lions in their pursuit of a personal best time. On the day some 450 of them were released from the captivity of the warm up area, zooming past those of us having already run 6 or 7 miles before they even started.

The marathon and 50km runners started at 9am. For the first circuit it was pleasant sunny, but as it got hotter fairly quickly, I decided to put my cap on (also in my cool box). My plan was given the heat, it would be better to get ahead of my splits up to half way point and assess what I had got left in my tank and the conditions, rather than risk it getting even warmer later stages and being unable to claw back lost time. At 13 miles I was a comfortable 6 minutes ahead. Even at 20 miles I was still slightly ahead of the 10.1min/mile pace required for a 4hour 30min finish.

Those magnificent men in their flying machines

Throughout the event, planes landed and took off from the grass runway in the middle of the motor circuit and as we ran we were privileged to see spectacular Spitfires taking off and landing seemingly buzzing us at low levels.

Oh no Cramp strikes – again!

This time it was right calf at 15 miles so further on than London and in my other leg. I had thought with all the electrolytes I had (orange juice, coconut water and sodium tablets) I had everything needed to prevent cramp. I suffered the next whack at 18 miles and shortly after 20 miles, I doubled-up in agony with the worst cramp pain I have experienced. I thought my run was up. Even my Garmin watch detected an “Emergency event” and tried to send a message to my partner at home. I then had to re start it as it had auto-saved the first 20 miles, meaning I didn’t know how long I had been running or how far I had left to run.

I carried on and a marshal confirmed I had just two laps (2.5m per lap) left to do. I figured that if there was an hour remaining on the time clock at the finish, I could get under 5 hours so would give it a go. During the last 2 laps, fellow runners became scarce. We were all struggling with the increasing headwind on the uphill section. It gave an opportunity to speak with others during the uphill walk rest. One young lady who had been going very slow and looked to be struggling as much as myself told me this was her 92 marathon.  I also spoke with a couple of ladies who said they were a lap behind me and they had both ran a marathon on the previous day!

Nearly there, last lap, less than 2 miles

Carry on, one lap to go, you can do it. But am I alone? I looked back and could only see three people on bicycles. Am I the back marker?  No, they were chaperoning Spiderman to the finish. I stopped to drink water and as they drew level, encouragement was exchanged. They were in awe of me, said I was a “hero”. But Spiderman was on his last lap of his 50k - 2 laps more than me; however, he was at least 20 years younger!  

Nearing the finish, I picked up my cool box with 300m left to run. I really couldn’t see the point of walking back to get it afterwards. A marshal ran across and kindly offered to carry it for me, so I could cross the finish unencumbered, for my finish line the photo gesturing "< 5" (less than 5 hours).

Goodwood Running GP MarathonGoodwood Running GP Marathon

Goodwood Running GP Marathon Finish 4hrs 55mins

I am always very appreciative of those kind people that volunteer their time on a Sunday to support those taking part. I am always overwhelmed by their enthusiasm and support, ensuring running events such as this, run smoothly and safely. Many of the volunteers are runners themselves, who understand the effort and commitment required to run for 5 hours.

With the first two hours being in full sun and a headwind gusting over 20mph on the uphill section for the remainder, I am quite pleased with a sub 5 hour marathon at 64, this being my third marathon in 68 days. I nearly called it a day but as I passed the grandstand clock I could see more than 30 minutes remained for a ‘sub 5’ and knew I could do it.

Can I drive my car?

Whether I would be able to drive my car after running a marathon was a primary maranoia worry, as I had difficulty with leg cramp using the clutch after running 20 miles here in February. Back at the car, I changed my shoes and shorts. In the process cramp struck again and flung myself to the ground again with cramp in the other leg. This was far worse. It really hurt me. I managed to ease it and still drive home using the heel of my left foot to operate the clutch and changing gears as infrequently as possible.

Why do I get cramp?

Not sure why I suffered the dreaded cramp again. Maybe I ran too fast for the first 20 miles - just 10 minutes behind my 20 mile time in February on the same circuit. Maybe I am now just too old to run sub 9 minute miles for 2 hours. I might be lucky and win a ballot place for the London Marathon in 2024. However my next marathon is Brighton on 2 April. If I’m not also running London, it will probably be may last.

I managed to get round in 4:54:50.  That’s 25 minutes less than London and my first sub 5-hour marathon! I’m pleased with that. A time starting with a 4 was my aim last summer for London 2023 and now I have achieved that.

Injury, rest but what’s next?

My legs were trashed again but less so than after London. The soles of my feet suffered most, during and after, so new shoes may be an option to trial for next time. I need a few days to recover before I run again.  Next up is The Great South Run on 15 October 2023. I’m aiming for 90 minutes for the 10 miles. I also have the South Downs Half Marathon on 25 November 23.

< 5 hours - Goodwood Running GP Marathon Nice Medal - Goodwood Running GP Marathon

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