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“No matter what your Garmin says – the Finish line will be there when it’s there!”

by Editor
Thursday 4th July 2013

Race report: Emily Hannon reports about her experience at the Giants Head Marathon - Saturday, June 29, 2013

Location: Sydling Saint Nicolas, Dorset, UK
Temperature: HOT! (28’c)

Giants Head Marathon - Saturday, June 29, 2013

Photos © Steve J Mills

I arrived in Dorset the day before the race to camp on the site provided by the organisers and it everything that you need: portaloos, plenty of water and a huge field! The race is pretty small with roughly 200 marathoners on the start line and 100 10km runners joining later on. Directions to the village and start were really clear and despite my sat nav trying the best to send me into Yeovil I arrived safely and was promptly silenced by a hill coming off the main road down into Sydling. Camping meant that we could easily take our time in the morning and having a ‘secret’ set of loos meant that we didn’t wait at all!

Race morning started early at 6am with a few coffees and Porridge and there was plenty of activity in the village hall. Not only were “Fuel 10km” getting ready for the runners by providing milkshakes, granola and porridge but the local village had already turned on the tea urns for piping hot tea! We were told that all of the photos for the event would be free which was absolutely fantastic - It was also good that the photos were of a decent quality as well!
There was a mandatory race briefing at 8.50am and it was nice to see the runners taking it seriously and listening! Being the first time that the race has been run it’s good to know what to make sure of (mainly about closing gates and not littering). Compared to what I’ve seen at other races – I was amazed that there was no rubbish around the course – no one littered and I think that shows a great level of respect for the local environment and race itself (we were running through organic farms and on land teaming with wildlife).

Giants Head Marathon - Saturday, June 29, 2013

Photos © Steve J Mills

The race started promptly with the gun at 9am. The timing was done by gun rather than chip but I think of a marathon of this difficulty – a few seconds would make no difference! The first 500m were on the road but the rest of the marathon apart from two sections was all off road. The terrain was either grass/hard track or forest trails so you could very easily get away with your trail shoes!

Within the first mile – there’s the start of one of the worst hills of the lot – but at least you get it out of the way! Almost everyone walked it and took it easy. The race seemed to consist of going up and down a series of challenging hills with ascents and descents varying from easy to mildly challenging; especially considering the camber of the hill and dirt track. Despite a few shouts – I seemed to miss the naked farmer at Mile 2 and am still kicking myself for not turning my head when I heard him call to me!

We were told that the aid stations were roughly every 3-4 miles and the first one appeared at Mile 4 like a welcome beacon! I struggled to find my pace with the runners around me and the heat so just hung back and took it very easy. Every station seemed to be teaming with A LOT of cake made by a local company and it was simply delicious! There were jelly babies and the ‘normal’ food that you find but this was absolutely fantastic to have some sweet biscuits or cakes to nibble on. At Mile 20 there was a cider stop and I’ve never enjoyed a glass of it so much!

One of the positive things about this race was the aid stations. They were run by people who knew what they were doing and knew what runners needed. At every one I was asked if I needed anything (a bottle refilled, tissues, sun cream) and towards the end of the race they all made sure that we were feeling OK. One marshal was offering his own water in case we needed it!

The scenery from the first mile can only be described as breathtaking. Dorset is definitely one of the most beautiful places in the world and this race seemed to bring it fully out in its glory. As the miles ticked on and we descended in and out of valley’s we made sure that we were keeping hydrated and encouraging the other runners. It was great to see everyone remaining positive and cheery. We noticed a few flagging runners but everyone seemed in good spirits despite the endless hills.

Giants Head Marathon - Saturday, June 29, 2013

Photos © Steve J Mills

The miles ticked on and we continued to run through some beautiful scenery and also had the chance of seeing a red kite flying overhead. Seeing this rare beauty made my race as it’s so rare.

Coming back along the last few miles we realised that it was going to be a little longer than a marathon. A few words of advice from my running partner made me realise that despite feeling absolutely shattered – I was having the time of my life! I knew that I was running low on energy so to see the finish line was a welcome view!

“No matter what your Garmin says – the Finish line will be there when it’s there!”

During this race I seemed to have issues with flies and midges. Although I was wearing protection they seemed to be feasting on me. I hated it and it was so annoying. At Mile 20 – the first aiders wiped something on my back to repel them and it worked for 3 miles…until I sweated it off! I actually used the flies as an excuse to run and try to out run them!

I crossed the line in 6hrs 32 – a personal worst for my marathon but it’s also the hardest race that I’ve ever run. We were instantly taken over to the goody bags and had water given out as well as a really nice tech tee and pint glass. I promptly filled the glass with some cider and had a stumble back to the village hall to see my friends and relatives. There were showers available and they were a really welcome sight to see! The local village had crowded around to support the race and the runners and it was lovely to see them at the finish line and mingling with the race itself.

The winner (Martin Lewis) had his entire family out on the route, marshalling and providing their support to all of the runners. Martin has a marathon PB of 2hrs 20mins so his winning time of 3hrs 47mins shows the difficulty of this marathon course.

Giants Head Marathon - Saturday, June 29, 2013

Photos © Steve J Mills

I said at mile 23 that I’m never going back and never doing this race again…. Now that the race has happened – I’ve forgotten that and it’s now: when do race entries open for next year? If you’re looking for a challenging, stunningly beautiful race – please look to this one. The organization is fantastic, the group of runners that attend are encouraging and supportive and you will not find a better location to run a marathon.

Speaking to the organisers after the event; they are keen to take on any runners feedback from this year to make an even better event next year. The Race Director; Andy Palmer said: "We can only make a successful event through the input of our runners. We read every piece of feedback submitted and would love to hear from the runners who took part about what could be improved in the coming years". If you have any comments - please contact them at: info@whitestarrunning.co.uk.

For more information check out the race website: www.whitestarrunning.co.uk

Men's results

1 Martin Lewis Charnwood AC 03:47:23
2 Christopher Chambers Eastleigh 03:53:32
3 Ralph Cottrell Unattached 04:06:57


Women's results

1 Naomi Tier Unattached 03:56:16
2 Lynda Faulkner Dorset Doddlers 04:19:01
3 Nichola Taylor Unattached 04:21:17


Click here for full results


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