Brighton Marathon

Race Reports

Finish Time 03:10:35 (gender position 12th; category position 7th; overall 271st field of 11,000)
What a fantastic race!! The course, the organisation, the weather and the enormous crowd support. In my opinion Brighton Marathon certainly rivals London for atmosphere. I would recommend this race to everyone!!
Brighton was my 14th marathon (mixture of road, off road and ultra-distance) and my strongest yet.
With a car journey of approx. 4 hours I decided to make a weekend of the race. I stayed with a friend in Barnham on Friday and Saturday night, leaving early (6am) for Brighton (a 40 minute drive away) on Sunday. The only thing that irritated me about this race was having to collect the race number from ‘The Brighton Centre’, in former years these have been sent out in the post at this particular marathon (London Marathon always holds an EXPO where numbers are collected). However, this turned into a trip into Brighton on Saturday with a nice lunch and ‘Bills Café’ (beautiful by the way!!) – the queues for race numbers were not as big as expected which was a bonus. On race day I made use of the park and ride service, parking my car at the University of Sussex campus (tickets for this have to be booked in advance). I boarded my coach at approx. 7:30 and arrived at the start just over one hour before the race, which was about right.
This year the organisers decided to use starting corrals – I managed to find myself at the front of the Red wave which was sub 3:30 marathon time (I had quiet hope of beating my personal best for a road marathon which was set in Edinburgh in 2013 at 3:22:35). Here the runners were guided off a very muddy grassed area (the day before Brighton had hosted a 10k race and junior races as part of the Brighton Marathon weekend and it tipped it down!!! I had a tip off about the muddy start and took plastic bags to wear over my trainers whilst in the corrals) onto the road where I managed to be right at the front on the start line. In discussions at the start I was told that elite and championship time runners have a separate start area and run a different course for the first mile which actually meant they escaped the loop around Preston Park which was on an incline!! Another discussion point which stuck with me was when I was deciding whether to stick with the 3:15 pacers – a fellow runner said that you need to decide before you start what you want and just go for it… So I did… I was going for 3:15!!
There were two men pacing at 3:15. They did a fabulous job at preventing me from sprinting off too fast in the first few miles – ‘Gemma, get back here!’ was said a few times!! Two really great chaps who were both capable of running 2:45 marathons – so they were both very energetic all the way round.
I stayed with the 3:15 pack until around the half way point, enjoying friendly banter and tales, when at around miles 13-14 the crowds were thick along the seafront of Brighton and they ROARED!! This paired with feeling good in myself – my breathing was effortless, legs felt light, no sign of any cramp – so I pushed on [my latest fuel is ‘Blocks’ which I much prefer to sticky gels – had 4 of these throughout the race which kept my energy up].
The whole race just flew by – enjoyed every second of it.
The ‘worst’ part of the race, which everyone had been talking about was the ‘power station’ which consisted of an out and back section of 3 miles, which didn’t offer as much crowd support and there was a bit of a pong in the air!!! (this took runners up to around mile 23). After this runners were rewarded with a final stretch of running along the coast and back into dense crowd – and I was almost at a sprint at this point (it felt like it!), overtaking 10-15 runners in the last few miles with my head held high receiving many positive comments and words of encouragement from the crowd. At this point I had no idea that I would actually finish 12th female.
When I crossed the finish line I had a little tear in my eyes!! A time of 3:10:35 secures me a championship place for London Marathon so I will be applying for this in November this year and hope that London 2017 will be just as prosperous.
I raced this for Macmillan Cancer Support, raising £300. I hadn’t originally set out to run for charity until my Grandad was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in March 2016 and sadly within one month passed away on 15.04.16 two days before the race.

4 thoughts on “Brighton Marathon

  1. Great race report Gemma. Hugely inspiring! And such sad news about your Grandad, sorry to hear that. I’m sure he would be extremely proud of your achievements if he knew. Well done, a fantastic result. Keep it up!

  2. Yep, nice report and great story. Result outstanding, well done to you, all the hard work paying off. Keep it up.

  3. Brilliant run and excellent report. That is a huge chunk to chop off what was already a good Marathon P.B. You really are on top form at present. I am thinking of recruiting you to write all my press reports.

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