Race Report Chester Marathon by Andy Pearson

JB Chester 2013


It was somewhere on the A1 that I asked the question of Jim Bulman.  “What’s the race plan then?”

“Go hard to 20 miles then if I have an ounce of strength left hang onto the finish!” 

This compared to mine which was.  

“Start easily, build up the pace but stay around 6-09/6-10 for the whole course and bag a sub 2:45 with a bit to spare.  It’s a stepping stone for me so there will be no heroics out there!”

I knew Jim fancied his chances of being up there with the leaders and possibly bagging a top 10 place so I quickly made up my mind to forget about everyone else and just stick to the race plan.   As I knew Chester fairly well I drove the last four miles or so of the course to give Jim and I an idea of the finish.  The hill at 24.5 miles would be a crucial point for both of us to take note of.

After a night in a bed and breakfast that we both described as barely inadequate we decided to walk the 15 minutes to the start as a warm up (Jim later regretted this decision!).

Start line was the usual hustle and bustle, small talk and handshakes.  Jim was unusually quiet which I now know as his way of dealing with pre race nerves. The race was started by the town crier who claimed to have run the course that morning in a quick 2:05.  Not sure about that but soon we were off. 

At the 10km split Jim enjoyed a four minute lead over me and was in the top 10.  I went through in 38:28 which was about spot on for my plan. 

At the 20km split Jim had extended the lead to over 6 minutes which extended further at the half way point which Jim reached in 1 hour 14.44.  I came through in 1 hour 21 mins 10 seconds having started to struggle a bit with some hamstring pain.   So far so good for our respective goals.

At the 30km split I had my fastest 10km split and was enjoying the fact that the race plan was going well and despite some hamstring tightness I was in fact feeling generally good.  A different story (unbeknown to me) was developing at the front end.  Jim went through 30km in 1:49.30 and I was less than 6 minutes behind.  

Between 30 and 40km it became clear to me that some of the leaders were coming back to me.  During this part of the race I passed 5 or 6 runners clearly feeling the effects of the race.  Fleetingly I thought.  I wonder where Jim is but I could not see him anywhere so assumed he was flying along to a 2:30 something.   It would be a good journey home if we both had good races.

Up to 40km I was working hard to keep as close as possible to the plan.  Despite a few hills to negotiate I managed to hold a decent pace and felt that despite a disaster the 2:44 was in the bag.  Just two miles at 7 minute miling would be enough so my confidence grew.  The last hill at 24.5 miles was in sight and I pushed on.   Little did I know that less than 400m ahead of me was Jim Bulman.  I’m told by those tracking us that this was causing waves of excitement in the online community tracking using twitter and facebook.

It was Jim in the end who came in first in 18th place in a time of 2:42.34 with me coming in 20th in a time of 2:43.42.  A pb of almost three minutes and a satisfying run.  So different to Sunderland last year where I entered the dark zone of hitting the wall.

If only the marathon was 27 miles long who knows what the outcome may have been!

Chester was a great event, full of atmosphere around the course.  An added bonus was the organisers putting your name on the numbers.  Lots of personalised shouts of encouragement around the course really spurred us on.   Jim was getting lots of encouragement around the course except from a child stood at 23 miles who shouted “Go on fatty!”  Not so much carbo loading next time Jim!

By Andy Pearson


Meanwhile father and daughter, David Hodgson and Gemma Parkin completed in 3:28:20 and 3:58:58 (chip time) respectively.

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