|Evan signed up 92nd, finished 646th.|
Evan Burgess hadn’t taken part in a marathon before, but saw the Gloucester marathon advertised in Cirencester. With nothing to lose, he signed up.
My first marathon was exciting and yet hit by some setbacks. I had broken a toe a few weeks before the marathon that made me unsure if I should run before the big day. I wasn’t certain how I would be healed by then. I definitely didn’t want to aggravate the injury and miss the whole race. As luck had it, my broken toe didn’t hurt at all on the day and throughout the race! The bad news was I missed out on 4 weeks of training. A day before the marathon, wondering what my strategy should be, I googled average run times for a first marathon. The advice was quite consistent “Don’t worry about the time on a first marathon, just finish it!” In the end I decided to take the advice of ultra marathon runner Stu Mittleman, which was to go slow until the body naturally sped up. If it worked for someone who ran 100 miles a day, it would work for my measly 26.2 miles.
The course of the Gloucester marathon was great, and the support from the locals was really strong. People stood and sat outside their houses, on the pavements and clapped each runner. Many children reached out for high fives . One runner even took a charity bucket with him for the entire route. He ended up getting a lot of coins from these well wishers!
When I got to mile 17, I was confronted with the steepest hill I could imagine in a marathon. Set by a pub overlooking a lake, the weather was idyllic but the incline was not! A photographer who was sat up the hill said, “Do you want to sprint past? It will look good for the picture.” “No.” The only suitable response! At this stage I had to walk. Something odd happened. A broken big toe from at least ten years before started to hurt! Not the toe I had been worried about. It seems a marathon will give you a history lesson in any weaknesses your body has.
By mile 25, I decided I had nothing left to lose so I started to jog. I overtook a man who I’d chatted with at mile 9 who had ran 88 marathons, and he congratulated my final push. I managed to overtake another man, perhaps in his 50s or 60s, “Well done, a magnificent accomplishment” he said. It felt a little underwhelming, as I at 30 was making it in just under the 6 ½ hour mark. By mile 26 I managed to sprint in to the end, which was confusing to my girlfriend who had waited all that time. “Did you run that fast the whole race?” she asked. “Yes, I got lost so I had to run it twice.”
What I can take from my first marathon is that until you have run one marathon, you just don’t know how to pace yourself. This caused me to push too hard in places and not hard enough in others. It was a great experience and anyone who is interested in trying their first marathon should give it a go next year. Until then, the Stroud half marathon is coming up on the 23rdOctober. I will give it my best to be there!
Evan Burgess came in number 646 with a time of 6:20:49. The winner Steve Way, took just 2:29:45.