Today is the 4th Brighton Marathon for the south coast city and for myself. Since the very first opening marathon in 2010, Brighton has always been close to my heart and remained my all time favourite road marathon.
Brighton is my home city and I have met many other runners of all abilities through Bosh-Run group on Facebook. Many have become good friends, whether local or from afar. The group support has inspired so many others to run and reach their goals. I have rarely run a race without a Bosh runner to share the experience.
Feeling tired from a busy week at work, finishing nights just yesterday, and the 100 miler still in my legs. I really am not so sure how the run will go today, so am just running on feel. Sunday (my partner) only got an hours sleep, so is not rested either, but the excitement and nerves certainly kick in as we walk to the park...
With just a little time to spare we meet up with the Bosh runners for pre-race chat and pictures. I say my good byes and good luck to everyone, Lucy and Sunday. Then jog up to the Elite starting area a mile away.
Withdean Park is still on London Road, so once Elite runners begin we will reach the mass start, further down at Preston Park a mile away. Kenyans are running hill repeats around the park and I watch in awe at their stride. We assemble into the start pen, waiting nervously behind the super Elites. Bosh runner Scott jumps in beside me and we talk how crazy it is, being in the front white corral. We wish each other the best.
Miles 1-10 (pace per mile)
6.34 6.26 6.30 6.28 6.34 6.43 6.50 6.44 6.45 6.44
We set off down the road chasing the Kenyans, but they are soon out of reach. Once at Preston Drove, already the mass start runners are tearing down the hill to join us. The starting pens are still packed full of runners.
My pace, maybe a little too quick, although it feels comfortable for now. The first Iconiq water handed to me has not been opened, so it just explodes into my face, I manage a quick slurp from the bottom before discarding it.
Towards the Pavilion then around the level. Already the super elites are racing down on the other side. Heading up a slight incline on St James street, then eventually on to the seafront, towards the Marina. So many supporters, clapping and cheering as we pass them. I group with the runners for the time being, through the next water station and up the hill towards Rottingdean. A shout out from Scott 'go Lukey boy'.
After the turning point and back towards Brighton, I shout out to the passing Boshers, Nat, Stu, Trefor, Kevin then Sunday. Further up towards the Marina I see Lucy with a huge smile and thumbs up, 'go Bosh', I head over to her side to high five.
6:34 6:26 6:17 6:34 6:46 6:57 6:53 7:11 7:05 7:04
I have a Nakd bar with water at the next station, this time without any troubles. I thank the team. Lots more screams and cheers, shout outs of 'go Luke' and 'Bosher'. A shout out from Bosher Mark. After half way at the West Pier, the sun is shining and it starts to feel warmer very quickly. I remove my gloves. Heading up into Hove and down Church road. The support is amazing, and there are no quiet spots, just a steady stream of clapping and cheering.
Back on the seafront heading away from Hove, but first passing Bosh HQ. Huge shouts and cheers from Ash, Lucy and Louise 'amazing running Luke, keep going', she calls out. I smile and thank them all.
I question my time and if I will make my sub 3hr goal....my body already feels so tired and I want to just walk. The cheering supporters are the only thing stopping me from doing so.
7:14 7:14 7:23 7:29 7:42 7:04 6:37
I question my goal time.... my body already spent I just walk. The cheering supporters are the only thing stopping me from doing so.
After a lap around the power station and past the live singing band, another Nakd bar and some dates, then its back onto Hove seafront for the last leg towards the Pier. The water stations are more frequent now, and I drink the entire contents each time.
The wind is stronger this side, so I cover my face with my buff.
At 24 miles I can start feeling my legs getting tighter, then suddenly my left hamstring cramps. I stop and rub the area. Limping on, then eventually jogging until it subsides, I can only run as fast as my legs will carry me. I feel so fatigued, and suffer so much more on road.
I push through the discomfort, it starts to ease, the huge roaring from all the crowd support and hearing 'come on Luke, you can do it' lifts my spirits. I feel a lump in my throat.... I see Mark again then Domingo and Katja screaming from the side, I high five and then further on I see Lizzie from Bosh too.
Approaching the pier, just 800 metres to go, I thumbs up to the film crew. 400 metres, I can see 2:59 on the clock in the distance. I sprint with all my energy I have left, but it is no good, the seconds tick over...
'Luke Ashton finishes in 3hours' I hear being called out. I collect my medal and then space blanket from Bosh runner Nik. Which is a nice surprise.
I finished my 4th Brighton marathon with a personal best time, just seconds from my target. I am so exhausted but try to reflect. I feel happy but also dissapointed. I gave it everything I could today. I really think my body is still recovering, so under the circumstances, a personal best is still a personal best!
3:00:18 Chip time in 70th position
64th for my age group
I would like to thank the amazing support from everyone at Brighton Marathon and Bosh-Run. Helen, Tanya, Jacqui, Darren, Thomas, Ian, Domingo, Katja and Sunday for a wonderful pre-race dinner.
Then not forgetting my family for their continued support and believing in me...
Today I ran in Injinji lightweight crew socks and the DryMax Hyper thin socks.
Using a coolmax material to wick away moisture, keeping feet dry and cool. The double layer, special anti-blister materials used make these the perfect choice for keeping runners feet blister free!