Weetslade Relays Wed 21st June

Race Report from Claire Peat….

It was a good turnout of six Ponteland teams for the Weetslade Relays on Wednesday evening.  Whilst in the morning it was unclear whether we’d be running or swimming our route, by the evening it was dry and a lovely summer’s evening (perhaps a bit too lovely if we’re entirely honest!).

We managed to gather without incident at the start line and begin the negotiations of who was going to take each leg along with completing the 37 trips to the loo per person.   It was around then that someone also dropped the H-bomb…yes, there was in fact a hill.  Not an incline, not a slope, a hill…at least Heidi Finlay was happy!  Miv Chahal at this point started repeatedly mentioning man-flu to suitably manage expectations.

At 7:30 the gun went off and the initial group took off for their 4.1K loop.  At this point I mainly started panicking about what I was supposed to be doing but did notice that James Leiper seemed to be fully committed from the start so perhaps not surprising that he posted an excellent 14:49 first leg.

After working out the general vibe of what I was supposed to be doing (effectively have a marshal shouting wait Ponteland, wait Ponteland, GO PONTELAND at me) I took the second leg from our team (my theory being it was the most well hidden leg).  Initially it was all good…a bit of grass…a nice little track…some lovely supportive marshals.  However, I had spotted that hill and was a little concerned about it – so when I turned a corner and faced what appeared to be a vertical grassy slope I was not a happy bunny.  Then the marshal pointed out that no, it wasn’t cross-country, and that wasn’t the way up.  Yay, off I skipped around the bottom of the hill to the track further along.  The real way up still sucked, but not quite as much as I thought it was going to.

Then the good bit started, a lovely descent down the hill and the knowledge that the worst was over – just needed to get back to let Tony Vick do the final leg.  “Go Ponteland” said another lovely Marshal….”then “Go other Ponteland”….”erm, who exactly is this other Ponteland?” I thought to myself (I will leave Victoria Grace and Heidi Finlay to dissect my use of punctuation in that last bit).   A few minutes later, as we closed in on the field where the finish line lay, I found out as Nicola Matthews happily bounced past me!

As we turned into the field and the finish line was in sight it was nice to see a gaggle of Ponteland vests (gaggle being the correct collective noun for a group of runners for those who were uncertain) cheering us on.    It gave me a final burst of energy and I managed to pull out my best carrot chopping moves for a quick sprint(ish) to the finish – pulling back my position from an unsuspecting Nicola (sorry Nicola, you were still quicker than me though ;) ) before flopping onto the ground and completely missing the opportunity to cheer Tony off (sorry Tony!).

Once I’d recovered, I dragged myself over to the gaggle to congratulate the rest of the mid-group runners (a special mention to Heidi with her awesome 19:23 effort) and wait for a first team home.  I didn’t have to wait for long, with Tim Allsop appearing in a speedy 15:50 to give James, Leiper Laura Choake and Tim Allsop the title of first Ponteland team in – well done!  Full results can be seen on the Claremont Road Runners website here.

I think everyone agreed it was a great fun evening.   I certainly found out that I like relays!  I’m even looking back at the hill with fondness.  To finish off we went for a quick beer in the sunshine.  Unfortunately at that point some of us realised that we didn’t have any cash (*ahem Victoria, Nicola, Heidi and I*) and poor Matty Bell had to buy us a drink.  Some may say that made it all the sweeter, but not me of course….

 

 

Catterick Sprint Triathlon – Sunday, 18 June 2017

Race Report below from Lesley Bennett

Feeling that cycling was not sufficiently challenging I went in search of something else which would take up even more of my valuable time.  Having looked into it I came to the conclusion that I should spoil a perfectly good bike ride by having a swim beforehand and then following it up with a nice run.

The result of this conclusion was that, early in January 2017, I found myself looking at the list of forthcoming events on British Triathlon’s website and the Catterick Sprint Triathlon jumped out at me.  It seemed like a friendly event, welcoming of complete beginners and had good reviews from previous events.  So, after a brief e-mail exchange with the organiser I found myself signing up.  This gave me six months to get up to speed in all three disciplines.  My cycling was already quite strong, running was improving but still a work in progress, but my swimming…….oh dear, my swimming!  So I signed up for private swimming lessons just to improve my low confidence in the water, these were very successful and, although I haven’t yet mastered front crawl, I can do a pretty decent breastroke……….all proper stuff, you know, with my face in the water and everything!

I kept my entry under my hat for quite a while until strava friends started noticing that my athletic endeavours had started to look like a triathlete in training that, along with a recent purchase of a tri-suit, meant that my secret was out.  A week before the triathlon Nicola Matthews confided in me that she had also entered the Catterick event and we thought that there was a good possibility that Nikki Renton would also enter (which she did.)

So, the day of the event dawned and what a stunning day it was.  Blue skies without a cloud and really quite hot.  Jonathan (hubby) and I stayed overnight at the Premier Inn which was literally around the corner from the Catterick Leisure Centre where the event was based.  I had registered the day before so only had to get myself there to set up my transition area (I had good practice at this at the Ponteland Go-tris).  I always do these things very early but I’m glad I did, no last minute panics for me.  When I was all set up I wandered along to where Nicola and Nikki should have their bikes racked but there was no sign of them.  I was starting to get worried in case they didn’t get there in time, but luckily all was well and we were all ready to go.

After the race briefing, I headed to the pool to get ready for my 400 m swim as I had an early number (9) and was off at 8.20 a.m.  Nikki and Nicola were 33 and 34 and I could see them standing in line waiting to start as I completed my swim.  I did find the lanes quite narrow and I didn’t think there was much discipline when it came to passing other swimmers.  I expected it to be more like in the Go-tris when you tap the swimmer in front’s foot and they let you past at the end of the lane – but here it was more like a free for all.  However, I held my nerve and swam quite well.  I did get held up towards the end of my swim but managed to get past number 7 without causing too much havoc.  Leaving the pool and running into transition complete strangers were cheering me on, as they did for everyone, and that made me feel really good.

So, on to the bike leg.  I was a bit slower in transition but I wanted to make sure that I had everything just right before I set off on the 10.5 mile bike.  I did a recce in May with Jonathan so already knew the bike route and what delights lay in wait.  On leaving the leisure centre there was a very slight gradient as you left Catterick and then a steep, technical descent with a T juntion at the bottom.  This is where the fun starts and you meet the first of the two hills which are named after the organiser’s children!  ‘The cheeky one’, a short, very sharp hill reaches 20% at one point.  There is absolutely no way of carrying any speed into it at all and you just have to keep pedalling!  I didn’t see any other cyclists on that hill and rode up without any problem but that sort of hill is one of my specialities.  I think Nikki passed lots of competitors on ‘the cheeky one’  who were amazed that anyone could actually cycle it!  I overtook a lady just shortly afterwards and then was overtaken myself by number 24, who was really flying.  After ‘the cheeky one’ the road continues upward but at more civilised gradient, then about a mile and a half later you meet ‘the one that goes on and on and on’.  This hill is just over a mile long and averages about 7% with a 10% kick near the top.  After that the road flattens for a while before another technical descent to a T junction, then it’s rollers all the way before a long, high speed descent back into Catterick (I clocked 35 mph before the 30 signs!).  I was doing very well timewise, until a combination of parked and oncoming cars meant that there was no room for me and I just had to stop.  Disaster!  Spitting fury at the time I’d lost, I made my way back into into the Leisure Centre as fast as I could pedal!

The run – well probably the less said on that subject the better!  I don’t know where my legs went at this point but I don’t think they were with me.  Following my Go-tri experience, I realised that I had started my runs far too fast so I kept my pace very controlled leaving transition and out onto the course.  The only trouble was I kept going at that pace and just couldn’t speed up.  The run was 4.5 km and it was the longest 4.5 km of my life!  The course was two laps of a flat course along a cycle track.  As I passed Jonathan cheering me on, I gave him something closely resembling a death stare (less resembling and more death – Jonathan)….so he knew things weren’t going well.  At some point on the run I saw Nikki and later Nicola returning on their bikes and all I could think of was ‘must go faster, mustn’t let Nikki and Nicola pass me on the run’.  I did see them both on the run and we all shouted encouragement to each other.  I made it back first, followed by Nikki and then Nicola.  We all met up with Jonathan at the finish and had a spot of recovery time sitting on the grass by the finish watching other poor souls returrning from their runs or heading out on the second lap.  Nikki and Nicola both did fantastically well and I don’t think my performance was too shabby either – well done ladies!

I was so relieved and delighted that I had managed to finish my first sprint triathlon.  Although I was very disappointed with my run which was very poor, the swim was quite good with the bike was absolutely the best bit.  I should add that the Go-tri events were a vital part of my preparation for this event, without them the sprint tri would have come as a terrible shock to the system.

All in all I really loved my day at Catterick and it was a bonus to be joined by Nikki and Nicola

Below we now have an additional view from Jon, Lesley’s husband who was supporting for the day…….

The Catterick Triathlon – A Husband’s Tale

I suspect few of you will have any idea who I am, nor what this is about.  So, for the record, I’m Lesley Bennett’s husband and I was acting as her official support entourage for her first ever sprint distance triathlon(technically the swim is a bit short as was only 400m, rather than the usual British Triathlon Federation’s 750m, but the distances for the other disciplines were standard with a 20km bike, 5km run) and thought some of you might like to hear about it from the other side of the barriers.

Before I start I should get a couple of things out of the way: the first is that I’m immensely proud of Lesley for having taken this on, getting through all the training and preparation and giving it her absolute best on the day.  The other, and you can boo and hiss if you like, is that I’m not a triathlete – I’m merely a cyclist – so I must ask your indulgence, and forgiveness, when I write many odd, or, occasionally, flagrantly inaccurate things about disciplines that I don’t take part in myself.

With that out of the way, I’ll start at the beginning … or I would if I actually knew when this started.  The first I knew about it was over the winter whilst Lesley was still very much recovering from the surgical procedures that had been necessary to put the wrist she broke last June back together again and there was an exclamation that she’d found the Catterick Triathlon and was thinking of signing up for it.  Just because.  I thought it would be a great challenge for the year – something tough, but achievable by putting in a decent chunk of hard work.

And so the training began: training on the turbo during the coldest periods, running with the Ponteland Runners and some regular swim coaching.  Over the weeks, the power numbers and confidence in the water went up whilst the mile times went down.

We even managed to sneak in a recce of the bike course, disguised as a trip to a wedding do.  This, it turned out, was a good move: the course isn’t flat and has a couple of very decent climbs in it, one of which is around the 20% mark at points and it would be very easy to go blow your legs to bits before you’d even reached the run.

Before long, it was the Big Weekend.  We’d arranged to stay overnight in the Premier Inn that’s about 200m from the leisure centre around which the event is based so, having taken rather too long on my own training ride on Saturday morning, we made our way an hour down the road to be greeted by bright sunshine and a baking hot car park, followed by the coldest air conditioned reception that I’ve ever walked into.

One slick check-in process later and we were up to our room to dump our bags before heading out for Lesley to register herself on Saturday evening, rather than waiting for Sunday morning.  We found that the leisure centre was pretty much already set up for the event – the only thing missing were some additional barriers, which could only be added after the road was closed off on the Sunday morning.  We even had the, very friendly, Race Director introduce himself to us and he answered a couple of small queries that we had between us, before Lesley and I wandered off in the direction of the transition area.  We spent a certain amount of time there working out the layout and locating Lesley’s bike rack position before bimbling off into the sunset.

Or, at least we would have done, had I not misread the breakfast times for the hotel.  They do, indeed, to breakfast starting at 0630 … on weekdays.  At the weekend, this shifted to 0700, which was going to be too late given the time of the pre-event briefing and Lesley’s early start time.  The solution was a return to the hotel via the conveniently located Tesco where we bought a number of spectacularly unhealthy breakfast items.  And some fruit salad.

The next item on the agenda turned out to be an extraordinarily average dinner at the Brewer’s Fayre.  I’m only actually impressed about two things: that I didn’t go for the very sad looking £10 ‘chicken night’ all-you-can-eat buffet and the chocolate based ice cream sundae that I had for dessert.

I then spent the rest of the evening with not much to do, whilst Lesley made got things arranged so she was prepared for the following morning’s early start, after which it was time to sleep.

15 seconds later the alarm went off, the birds were singing, the sun was shining and it was 0530.  Feeling like I’d been through the tumble dryer (I don’t sleep well in unfamiliar hotel beds), I kept my eyes shut and hoped that it was all a dream.  Apparently it wasn’t, because Lesley arose and began to get herself ready and breakfasted.  Using my position as ‘supporter without portfolio’, I managed to put off getting out of bed until 6am, which still felt like much too early.

With all of the triathlon stuff in the car, we drove around from the hotel car park into the area that Tesco had bade available for the event and parked ourselves up next to everyone else who was extracting bikes and other kit.  Whilst Lesley attended to things like sun cream and making sure that things were in the right bag, I put the wheels back on her bike (always important), double checked that the skewers were tightened properly and that the brakes were working before setting the tyre pressures and giving the bike to Lesley and asking her to give it a quick ride around the car park to prove that the gears were right (you know what it’s like – you set them perfectly on the workstand, but as soon as you actually try to ride the bike, it all goes awry.)

With no further excuses available, we headed across to the event HQ.  The day’s first hurdle was the bike check.  Actually, that’s not quite right: the first hurdle was that you had to attach your number to both your bike and your helmet before even approaching the bike check.  Having applied the two stickiest labels in the known Universe, the brakes were checked again and Lesley was free to wheel herself around to transition, whilst I carved a path through the unsuspecting spectators to reach the outer fence so that Lesley could pass me any bags and unwanted kit.

It was now coming up 7am and, as there was nothing further for me to help with, and that it would be reasonably pointless for me to stand around during the briefing, we’d agreed that I’d head back to the hotel so that I could have breakfast and check-out, before returning to yell encouragement.  As I was messing around at the car, I spotted to other Ponteland Tri suits wandering around cladding Nikki and Nicola, who’d Lesley had said were also going to be competing.  I took the opportunity to introduce myself so that they wouldn’t be surprised at some random bloke shouting at them by name: I also passed on some insider information about te bike course, specifically the very steep hill near the start.

One breakfast later and I was up to the room to pick up all the remaining bags, which consisted of more than I remembered.  Particularly fetching was Lesley’s handbag, which I was now going to have to carry across from the hotel into Tesco’s car park.  I made a sharp exit.

Having survived the journey, I returned to the spectator area around transition just as the first competitors were set off.  As it was early, finding a vantage point was very easy, so I picked a spot and … waited.  During this time, the lady next to me started to chat, telling me that it was her daughter’s first time competing in a triathlon (she was normally a competition swimmer) and that she was just 14 (the youngest ever competitor in the event).  I nodded, sagely I hope, whilst she explained that she was really nervous about the bike ride, because that’s the part of the event where the spectators lose all sight of the competitors for an extended period.

And then the first of the swimmers emerged from the pool to applause from all and sundry.  The commentator on the PA even mentioned him by name (although I’ve completely forgotten it).  Then the lady’s 14 year old daughter came sprinting around to the bikes, to still more applause.  More people started to emerge and I knew it wouldn’t be long before Lesley materialised.

It wasn’t.  To much cheering from all around, she came running out of the pool and began to get herself ready for the bike.  This is where the time spent yesterday and earlier in the morning began to pay off: she knew where everything was and where she was going, unlike several people who struggled with the concept of following the big arrows and one lad who had to leave his bike by the side and run back to get his number belt, without which he was not allowed to begin the bike ride.

The one thing I noticed is that you could really tell who was competitive and who was just out to complete the event as a challenge: the competitors, like Lesley, ran from the pool exit to the bike and then out towards the line where you could actually start riding, whereas others would walk/jog (and, in one case, gently saunter whilst waving at the crowd).

As I’d promised Nikki and Nicola that I’d yell at them too, I remained by the transition area.  By this time, I had been joined by a couple from the North East, the lady of which had ridden the 64 mile Cyclone sportive the day before (and been broken by the first Ryal).  This was her longest ever bike ride, as witnessed by a spectacular white/red tan line arrangement, which she was comparing with one of the lady triathlon official’s razor sharp lines.

It wasn’t long before Nikki and Nicola appeared at the exit of the pool, line astern about a metre apart.  The crowd cheered and I yelled some personalised encouragement.  Nikki was quicker out onto the bike, although not by all that much and, two minutes later, everyone I knew was away out cycling and there was nothing for me to do for the next 45 minutes, or so.  I spent some of it gently cooking in the sun and cheering on some of the other competitors – it seemed the right thing to do.  After about 10 minutes of this, there was a bit of a lull and it felt like the right time to have a wander around, if only for a small change of view.

It didn’t take me long to work out that there wasn’t much to do so, after a few minutes I simply found a spot on the grass with a small amount of shade generously donated by a nearby bush and, following the example of the lad close by, lay down and rested.  This lasted for all of about 10 minutes: the strength of the sun was such that I, as a novice sunbather, was struggling with it.  As a tactical diversion I applied a bit of additional sunblock before having another attempt at resting.

After about 40 minutes had gone by, I’d had more than enough and headed gently back towards transition.  This time I parked myself close to the point where the runners would be heading out on their first lap and, a couple of minutes later, the first couple of riders began to roll in, including the 14 year old youngster who went off on the run like an absolute rocket.  The minutes ticked by and I was beginning to wonder where Lesley was, when her distinctive silhouette (to me, at least) appeared and I could breathe again.

She ran into transition, racked the bike, changed her shoes, slurped some fluid and ran past me to begin the last part.  I’ve no idea whatsoever whether she heard me, or not: she was in the Zone so there wasn’t much by way of a reaction.  I applauded a few more people on their way out onto the run before deciding that the best place I could now locate myself was across the car park to the point where the bike and running routes kind of converged.  This would give me the best chance of seeing both Lesley on her two running laps, but also Nikki and Nicola as they came in on the bike and on their running laps too.

The event organisers had, helpfully, placed a marshal on this point as there were two running lanes and two cycle lanes to get everyone into the right place.  It was working well – the young Lance Bombardier was doing a sterling job of alternately directing traffic and yelling encouragement.  He made very sure that it was encouragement when his Sergeant Major, who was competing, rode past – at some speed, it must be said.  This spot turned out to be an excellent one – everyone came past it in full flight, although there were the odd hiccough, for example the lad who came down on his bike only for his chain to fall off right in front of us.  Survey says: check your equipment before the event!

Shortly after Lesley had returned to the car park at the end of her first lap, Nikki came back in on the bike, with Nicola nowhere in sight.  This is, I think, where things started to get a bit interesting for Lesley.  By the time she’d come back around to where I was standing on her second lap, I was treated to a sunglasses melting stare.  It was so intense that even our young Lance Bombardier, who’d cheered pretty much everyone on (including ¡Arriba, arriba! ¡Ándale, ándale! for anyone who looked like they were really suffering), was stunned into silence.  I was still wondering whether I’d be needed to carry Lesley to the finish when Nikki came into sight.  I have no idea if anything was communicated between Lesley and Nikki as they passed each other (they were running in opposite directions down the same path): I assume the Stare had gone as Nikki appeared completely unscathed from the encounter and even managed a ‘thanks’ as I gave her a shout.

Somewhere in all of this, I’d managed to miss Nicola coming in on the bike, although I did give her a yell as she came round on her first lap of the run and then, again, when she came back in to begin her second lap.

By this time I felt it was time to move again: it wouldn’t be that many minutes before Lesley came back, this time to finish.  I took my leave of my vantage point, and the Lance Bombardier, and headed towards the finish point, taking care to keep off the run route where I could so as not to be in anyone’s way.

A couple of minutes later and I could see Lesley approaching: it looked like hard work by this point.  She came across the finish line, obviously pleased to have finished, but, unsurprisingly, also very tired.  Once she’d had her electronic timing tag removed and medal draped around her neck, we made our way into some shade around the back of the arrival tent, from which I nabbed her a bottle of water to go along with the recovery drink.  Another couple of minutes later and humanity had been restored, just in time for us to see Nikki come across the finish line.

The two girls had a happy few minutes chatting about their mutual experiences: it seems that my warnings about the ‘cheeky’ hill on the bike route had not gone un-heeded and Nikki had passed quite a number of people who were walking up, whilst telling herself that I’d said it was only short and that she should keep going.

During the conversation Bikki spotted Nicola incoming and we all headed back to the finish line to cheer her back in, giving all three the chance to share their experiences.  The overall feeling was that it had been a very well organised, friendly and, above all, very, very, hot day.

Once everyone had recovered a bit, we found a quiet spot where I took a group photo and we could continue to recover until transition was opened up to those who’d finished (there were still swimmers coming out of the pool at this point).  As we stood around we spotted the live results tent and made our way there: the live results system gave everyone their split, and overall, times pretty much as soon as they’d finished.  We then spent the next 20 minutes trying to keep out of the way of the increasingly large number of people who were also trying to get their results from the system.

Eventually, transition was opened up and everyone headed in their own directions.  Lesley went into leisure centre to get changed (I presume Nikki and Nicola did similar, but I lost sight of them), after which we packed up all of our stuff and wheeled back to the car, where I gently packed Lesley’s bike into the boot and slung the other bangs onto the back seats before settling in for the hour’s journey home.

All in all, then – a grand day out for all concerned: the organisation of the event was slick, the weather a tad warm and everyone taking part came back looking happy (tired, but happy).  So, if you’re looking for a triathlon that’s reasonably local, but with the odd challenge, then I’d thoroughly recommend the one at Catterick.

And, finally, a huge WELL DONE to all three of the Ponteland ladies did fantastically well, especially, of course, Lesley who, glutton for punishment that she sometimes is, is taking part in the Ponteland Triathlon…

Newburn River Run – Race Report

The 2017 edition of this well organised, local race took place over a slightly shorter (but safer) 6-mile route on a hot, humid evening. The flat course also gives club members a great chance to score lots of points towards the club championship

A record 356 participants took part over what is a regular running route for lots of our club members and the pie, sandwich, crisps and chocolate bar handed out afterwards were enjoyed on the balcony of the Leisure Centre by all.

Well done to everyone taking part (Fiona and Mick narrowly missing out as the podium only had two steps at this race). Full results below.

 

Overall Rank Cat Rank Name Category Running Club Time
42 7 David Levison Male – Over 45 Ponteland Runners 00:39:20
45 4 Nick Wild Male – Over 50 Ponteland Runners 00:39:29
68 33 Daniel Barry Male – Senior Ponteland Runners 00:40:58
79 10 Andrew Hutchinson Male – Over 40 Ponteland Runners 00:41:40
97 3 Michael Meaney Male – Over 60 Ponteland Runners 00:42:45
111 18 Paul Doney Male – Over 45 Ponteland Runners 00:43:41
117 47 Matthew Levison Male – Senior Ponteland Runners (almost!) 00:43:57
133 23 Mark Kelly Male – Over 45 Ponteland Runners 00:44:50
139 53 Adam Brown Male – Senior Ponteland Runners 00:45:19
154 3 Fiona Nicholson Female – Over 50 Ponteland Runners 00:46:23
164 18 Alison Guadagno Male?? – Over 40 Ponteland Runners 00:46:56
166 12 David Legg Male – Over 50 Ponteland Runners 00:47:00
191 9 Heidi Finlay Female – Over 40 Ponteland Runners 00:48:33
217 16 Paul Holborow Male – Over 50 Ponteland Runners 00:50:39
260 22 Grace Holt Female – Senior Ponteland Runners 00:54:18
272 11 Amelia Dakin Female – Over 50 Ponteland Runners 00:55:11

 

LIVERPOOL ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MARATHON RACE REPORT

A conversation with Heidi Finlay and Victoria Grace.

H: Right then V, what was your favourite bit of the Liverpool Marathon?

V: My favourite bit of the marathon was the finish line. Ha! No, my favourite bit was the music and going up Penny Lane. Penny Lane was amazing; it was the highlight of the whole run for me. It was at about 19 miles so I really needed that, so I thought that was really good.

H: Penny Lane was a marker for me, but it was more like, I was just dying to get there, and then once I was there I was like, right, I wanna leave here now! That poor lady on the music, saying, “and next on the playlist is…”

V: She was saying, “and this is Penny Lane, where we play Penny Lane on repeat, all day every day”

H: She must have been demented like.

V: Yeah.

H: I suppose that was a good thing for the tourists.

V: Yeah, yeah. Like me.

So what was your favourite thing?

H: It was just going round Liverpool, you know, it being my home town, but there was so much to see, I thought. When you came out of the city initially, you were in the business district, and then seeing all the old buildings, next running up through Everton where my Dad grew up, so it was nostalgic in that way. And then past the football stadia, which was really good. I would have liked them to play their theme tunes coming out of the stadia, I think that would have been better, if when you were running past Anfield…

V: Yeah, I could have done with a bit of…

Both: You’ll Never Walk Alone.

H: That would have sent shivers down your spine, but…

V: I loved the bit, and it was quite early on, where you went up past the Cavern, up Matthew Street, and then they had that rock band, it looked like they were at City Hall or something, up on the balcony.

H: Ah, yeah, that was amazing!

V: And they started playing Brown Sugar, and I was like, “Yeah!”

H: Yes! They were brilliant.

Another bit, when we were running through Sefton Park, along that avenue, it felt like some crazy euphoric hypnotic serenity, where there were beautiful Victorian buildings on one side and a park on the other, the sun was coming through the trees, and I thought it was the most beautiful experience of my entire life!

V: I got mixed up with a lot of the parks ‘cause there were a lot of parks, but they were all, I mean they were lovely, really nice, nice lakes, trees and you know, it gave you a bit of shade.

H: In Sefton Park by the ice cream parlour there were quite a lot of people.  What would you say about the support? You see, I was really surprised as to how good the support was actually, I wasn’t expecting it.

V: I think it was quite good because it went through parks and things like that, so people were out in the parks anyway, and they could just kind of stop their daily business and cheer you on, but there were a lot of people who had come out specifically to support. There were plenty of kids with high-fives and sweets, water and people shouting from their flats, yeah really good. Because they had the music as well, people came out and they were getting something back to pass the time, because they could actually listen to the music and not just have to watch runners panting.

H: There were a few quiet spots, and I did try and start off a few oggies, and I was trying to promote the Great North Run at that point, and nobody had ran the GNR, and I was like, “You need to do it!”

V: I was actually trying to promote park runs. There was a guy who had ran 7 marathons but never a park run and me and this other girl were encouraging him and I did think of the O’Neils at that point.

H: What about the logistics of the marathon? I thought it was brilliant, so easy.

V: Really good. Very impressed, the bag check was quick and efficient. The toilets were easy at the beginning; you could literally just nip to the toilet and then back to the start line.

H: There were no queues at all.

V: And then the way they did the start in corrals, in sort of blocks and they’d count each one down, and then at the end, yeah, it was very efficient, and the marshals were good.

H: Staying in the city, would you recommend staying in the city, or staying nearby?

V: Yeah, staying in the city, if you want to do a bit of sightseeing, there’s loads of hotels. The Docks was a lush place to stay ‘cause there’s so much to do down there and everything was on the doorstep.

H: If you were staying with family or friends a little bit out, the public transport is totally fine.

V: What about the course conditions, what do we think of the, er, hills?!

H: [Laughs] Well, I don’t think I really, really, fully understood the hills before, but now, because I’ve said it so many times, I don’t know whether I’m making it into more of a thing than it actually was.

V: You know what I’m like with hills- I hate hills and I can’t believe how… I think I just switched off from worrying about that sort of thing, and I just thought, well I’ll get to the top and I know I’ll be tired at the top, and I’ll just keep plodding on and it’ll go away after that, but there’s no doubt about it, it was hilly, and there were people around me complaining about the hills, like “who put that ******* hill there?” at like 20 miles, because that’s the kind of time you really don’t want a hill, but because I think we’d known it was going to be hilly, well, you must have known it was going to be hilly?

H: Well I think in my mind, I thought the first half was going to be more hilly and the second half would be less, but actually when I ran it I didn’t feel that at all, but I don’t know whether that was ‘cause I was in such pain with my glutes, that it was just every hill, I was like “Nooooooo!”

V: There was a hill going up to Chinatown, that was pretty big wasn’t it?

H: Yes,  well that was only like 11, 12 miles in and I was in pain then and I thought, I can’t believe this.

V: And then I think I went round into a park and I started talking to some guy and I’d heard people saying that it was less hilly in the second half and I said that to this guy and he just looked at me as if to say, “Yeah, you believe that if you want to,” ‘cause he had done it last year.

H: There was this girl who was saying, “This is the last hill”, then we’d go round the corner and then there was another hill, and I was like, “You said it was the last one!” [imitates the shocked emoji].

V: It was weird because I knew that the last 4 miles were along the waterfront…

H: Yes, that was flat though.

V: But I kept thinking, we’re not near the waterfront, and then all of a sudden it just sort of appeared.  The good thing was it wasn’t windy, ‘cause you know, some people had said if you are running into the wind along there it’s horrible, but actually it was fine.

H: I don’t want to put people off though, by saying about the hills too much!

V: I don’t think people should be put off by that, they should see it as a challenge.

H: [Laughs] Ha! Yeah. Because in terms of what you run past I thought there was so much interest in terms of the course, that you know, like sometimes you’re on a boring course and you’re getting up a hill and you’re like “Aaaaaahhh,” whereas at least there were distractions.

V: There was so much distraction there that, the fact that I wasn’t running with you Heidi, it was OK because I was distracted by other people and other things.

H: Well, actually, I was running with this guy and he never ever shut up.

V: Oh really?

H: He was from the Midlands and he was wanting to do a marathon in about 4:15 which was sort of similar to what I was aiming for and I think he just thought he was going to just run with me the whole way and he just talked non-stop, and I was like, is this what I’m like? [Laughs]

V: Yeah.

Well I did bump into a nutter as well, and she was a bit like, she was all dressed in neon, and she started talking but she was veering all over the place and she was just spouting nonsense, and I thought, ah man, I’m gonna have to speed up here just to get away from you, and I really didn’t want to run any faster, but anyway, I got away from her.

Yeah, it was good, really friendly city and a lovely course.

H: What about T-shirts and medals?

V: Amazing T-shirts. Yeah, I mean, you don’t have to like The Beatles to do the Liverpool Marathon, but it helps.

H: And the treats at the end… there were plenty of treats.

V: Ah yeah, we got loads.

H: It was a bit random though that they didn’t give you a bag.

V: They just threw it at you.

H: So you fell over the finish line, stumbled into a hall, and grabbed bags of Haribo, bananas, crisps…

V: It was like when you go into a supermarket and you forget to pick up a basket.

H: [Laughs] yeah. But it was all good.

And then the concert afterwards?

V: Ah yeah, yeah, well you got your free pint, which obviously you have to be able to walk to go and collect that but someone can do it for you. But I tell you what, that pint sorted me right out that did, it was lovely. And the concert wasn’t that great, well, I didn’t even look at the stage to be honest, I went and sat behind it.

H: No, I know. Well I suppose the difference is, ‘cause we had the kids with us. It couls have been different with out them, maybe we would have watched that or… so what’s your opinion of family support versus being in the zone on your own?

V: Argh.

H: Yes, ‘cause I think it was a learning experience for both of us wasn’t it?

V: I thought it would be nice to have family there at the end and stuff, and it was, it was OK, but I would never recommend or do another… I’m not going to do another marathon anyway.

H: [Laughs]

V: You know, I think it’s the sort of thing you’ve got to do with other runners, who you can prepare your head with beforehand, totally focus on yourself, and your own little needs for the run, and not have to deal with other peoples’ stuff.

H: I think that’s the key thing isn’t it? How you need that focus, and especially when you are talking to family, who, you’re trying to say to them, that actually this is not like running a 10k, it’s not even like running a half marathon. I have to have quiet and calm and I have to get into the zone, and they’re just like, yeah, let’s invite everybody over, and I was like, ah no, please don’t do that. Erm, but then, during the race, I definitely felt that I wanted to run quicker to get to see them, and I was like “Ah, I’m just going to see my kids,” you know, especially in that last 4 miles, which I was like, “4 miles?!” And I thought I was gonna die, but then I was like, “I’m gonna see my kids in 40 minutes, less than 40 minutes, come one keep going, keep going”.

V: It definitely kept me going, that last bit I was really looking forward to seeing them at the finish line and as it happened, they weren’t there! So that was, you know, I’d brought them all the way to Liverpool and they didn’t even see me come in, it was brilliant.

H: Ah, but it’s emotional when you meet up with them, isn’t it?

V: Yeah, it was, it was.

H: I would definitely say, just do a marathon with your running pals rather than your family.

V: Yeah.

H: Anything else? Water stations and gels?

V: Yeah I think there was plenty, but they did seem to, I’m not sure if maybe they’d ran out of gels, but there was enough water stations.

H: And toilets along the way. There were portaloos frequently.

V: Yeah.

H: So out of 10 how would you rate this marathon?

V: It’s difficult, because it’s your own personal enjoyment isn’t it, I think I was surprised, see, I didn’t expect to like this more than Edinburgh, but I did. I did enjoy this one more than the Edinburgh one because there was a lot more going on, it was just more fun, it was wild, it was mad, and you know it just kept giving…I did have a smile on my face the whole way round and the bands were brilliant, so I think I’d give it, yeah, 10 out of 10, really.

H: Yep, I definitely recommend it.

V: Probably the only thing would be the hills, but I mean that just adds to the interest, really doesn’t it?

H: Yeah… And will you run it with me when I’m 50? [Laughs]

V: [Sharp intake of breath] Well, I might run it, but clearly, you’ll be like, doing sub-4 by then.

H: [Laughs loudly].

V: We’ll see.