I made sure to lay out everything I would need the night before, and I woke up feeling relaxed and as ready as possible. When I arrived at the start line I packed a spare set of clothes just in case the predicted thunderstorms arrived, as well as some sports drink into the car that would be following us. After a very tough 32km the week before at 4min:1min intervals, I made the decision to drop back to 1:1 intervals with the hope of sustaining that pace for the whole race.
|Ready to go at the start line!|
We lined up at the start line and with the Rocky song playing in the background, we began the Maningrida Marathon. I dropped behind the group quite quickly because of my intervals but as we were running several loops of an out and back course, I knew I would be seeing everyone again. It was pitch black so I took the first 12k out and back loop just to enjoy my surroundings and be appreciative for the chance to run. As I began my the 16k loop I put on some music to keep myself motivated. The sun still hadn't quite risen, and the temperature was still sitting at around 26 degrees. At about the 17k mark I stopped to refill my Camelbak with cold water, and passed off my headlamp, as it was now light. I was beginning to feel a little flat at the 8k turn around, when I heard a loud siren behind me. Not knowing what it was, I moved to the side of the road and waited. I eventually realised it was the town firetruck and began to panic, wondering why it was here, chasing me with its sirens on. As I turned around, the driver put out over the P.A, 'WELLLCOOOMMME TO THE 2014 MANINGRIDA MARATHON. IF YOU NEED SOME WATER JUST LET ME KNOW, I HAVE 40,000 LITRES' This was just the pick me up I needed, it was genuinely a real laugh out loud moment. I waved to the people in the truck and began my way back for my final loop.
|One of my mantras for a mid-run pick me up!|
The final loop was to be 14km, and I was starting to feel it. I had managed to snag an icy pole and refill my Camelbak with water at about the 22km mark, and I knew as soon as the watch hit 35.2km it would be time to turn around and finish it off. I had also grabbed a cold towel filled with ice, which was amazing as the temperature was nearing 30 degrees a this point. When I turned around with 7km to go, I was in struggle town. It was hot, I was tired, and I was barely moving at a shuffle. I turned the music up even louder and began to belt out songs at the top of my lungs.
With about 3km to go, I was lucky enough to have one of the support crew come and run alongside me. He told me stories about the other runners and kept me distracted until the finish line was in sight. At that point we had about 500m to go and he told me to run by myself and finish strong. I sprinted (well at least, I tried to) towards the finished line. I was amazed to see a crowd of 10 people waiting for me to finish with a finish banner stretched across the road. As I broke the banner I couldn't believe I had done it! I was led to an ice bath and everyone was congratulating me and hugging me. It was honestly the best feeling ever!
|Cooling off in the ice bath|
As I sat down in the ice bath, I was surprised to see the two head runners of our running group presenting us with medals, congratulating us on completing the second Maningrida Marathon. I was honestly blown away by the amazing support on the course. Without the support of my #maningridarunners buddies I would have never been able to complete this amazing feat. They were there for me every long run, every 3am, 4am, 5am start. Throughout the whole marathon they were there with ice and cold water and towels and anything else I could have needed. They erected motivational signs all along the course and never once complained when we needed someone to run with us to get us through a tricky mental block.
|Celebrating with my fellow marathoners!|
I appreciate that people want to run a big marathon for their first, but for me, my first marathon of 3 people was just perfect. I would not trade it for any other race in the world. It was such a special day and I will hold the memories from this close to my heart forever.
What was your first race experience like?