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Our lass does good at the Brathay Windermere Marathon

by Editor
Monday 21st May 2012

Race report: Kirsty Reade explains her love hate relationship with the Brathay Windermere Marathon - Sunday, May 20, 2012

I decided to escape the rainy South of England for a few days and arrived to find it sunny and warm in the Lake District. Apparently the weather is always like that up there. Blue skies and a very still Lake Windermere made for a perfect setting for a marathon in very picturesque surroundings. This was the second time I'd run this marathon and I'd already developed a bit of a love-hate thing about it.

Love the start area – there's ample parking, no queues to register, you can hang around on the grassy area in front of Brathay Hall and take in lovely views of the lake.

Love the fact that this is a reasonably small marathon (about 1100 runners) so it all feels quite relaxed and there's no crush to get to the start. You congregate on the grassy area for a race briefing and are then led on the short walk down to the start by a band of drummers. There's no hanging around at the start, we had literally just got down there when the starter (a tweed-clad farmer with a shotgun) fired his gun. There are so many nice touches to this race which make it a bit special.

Brathay Windermere Marathon - Sunday, May 20, 2012© Pete Aylward

Photo: The start of the 2012 Brathay Windermere Marathon in typical Lakeland sunshine © Pete Aylward

Love the fact that the hills start pretty much straight away. This helps to thin out the field and it means that you can run at your pace right from the start.

OK, not so keen on the fact that it's all on road. This is a very beautiful part of the world and while you go through some lovely villages and catch some stunning glimpses of the lake, I couldn't help but look a bit wistfully at some of the surrounding hills, see the walkers up there and feel a bit jealous. You don't get the best views from the road but at the end of the day it is a road marathon so this isn't a criticism.

It is a very undulating marathon and after a while I did start to hate those uphills a little bit. But only a couple of the hills (at mile 7 and 21) were big ones, so the rest of the time you're over the hills before you know it and there was a lot of downhill to love.

A big thing to love about this race is the friendly atmosphere. Both times I've done it I've met some truly inspirational people. This year I met a chap from Barnsley who is carrying the Olympic torch and was going for a very fast time for a 60ish year old. So many runners chatted and offered encouragement and you don't get that on many road marathons. I've also never been called 'lass' so many times in one day either; something to value at my age.

My biggest gripe about the race itself would be the lack of road closures beyond about 8 miles. I can appreciate that it would be really impractical to close roads in such a busy tourist spot, and the organisers do all they can to keep runners and drivers coexisting happily, but at times I did feel a bit vulnerable. Where there wasn't any pavement to run on it did make overtaking runners a bit difficult and it's not ideal to have to worry about cars when you're concentrating on your race or possibly even starting to lose concentration.

While I'm griping I've got two big ones about the runners. Firstly, so many people were wearing headphones, which is obviously a big debate and a personal choice. However, I did feel that with the road issues it wasn't particularly safe. Secondly, the organisers went to great lengths to minimise litter on the course, putting big bins out a short distance from the water stations and having big signs showing where to dispose of bottles. However, I saw so many runners chucking bottles and gel wrappers in the hedges. In such a beautiful part of the world, this is a real shame. If the route had been slightly to the left or right of the road on trails people would have had more respect for the environment so I just don't understand why they couldn't apply the same principle on the road.

Back to what I loved – the views of the lake were fantastic and gave me a real boost, as did the support of the crowd though places like Hawkshead, Newby Bridge, Bowness, and finally Ambleside. I loved the last few miles between Bowness and Ambleside and there was a good amount of downhill to keep you going. The marshals were really encouraging, especially as some of them had quite a hard job trying to manage the runner/traffic/tourist triangle.

This race features the longest final 0.2 miles of any race I've ever done and a proportion of that is up a nasty little hill. Fortunately I remembered this from last year so I ignored that 26 mile marker and steeled myself for the final challenge. I was ahead of schedule, having adopted the 'go out far too fast and then desperately try to cling on' strategy that I'm quite fond of, so I came up to the top of the hill to find my other half saying 'bloody hell, that's my wife!' and fumbling for his camera. I actually ran a new marathon pb which I wasn't expecting, but it does go to show that it isn't such a slow course because there is a lot of downhill.

So the love/hate of this marathon balances well and truly on the love side for me. I bagged first vet 35 as well so I got a trophy presented to me by the legendary Joss Naylor (who also called me 'lass'!). I met up with another legend at the finish too: Run247 editor Britta! She's promising to break me on some vertical climbs in the Lakes in a few weeks so I'm looking forward to that (sort of).

Brathay Windermere Marathon - Sunday, May 20, 2012© Pete Aylward

Photo: 2012 winner Mike Jeffries on the final hill with Brathay 10 in 10 winner Sally Ford © Pete Aylward

Men's results

1 Mike Jefferies Swaledale Road Runners 02:45:30
2 Peter Stockdale UKnetrunner 02:51:44
3 Paul Davies Centurions RC 02:52:27


Women's results

1 Nicola Shaw Unattached 03:15:48
2 Mel Rotherham Unattached 03:17:32
3 Kathleen Aubrey Helm Hill 03:21:52


Click here for full results of the Brathay Windermere Marathon


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