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Brighton Marathon by Crystal Murray

Brighton Marathon Finishers

I ran my first marathon in Brighton on 07.04.24 along with Elaine Turner and our friend Viki. I really enjoyed the long runs during the training which were always on Saturday mornings and more often than not followed by a slap-up breakfast…. well, you need to have something to give you the motivation to run don’t you!

The weekend of the marathon arrived, I felt a bag of nerves and many times the words ‘what the hell am I doing’ went through my head.  We stayed in some fantastic accommodation and settled in well the night before.  On the morning of the marathon, we had a smooth drive to the park and ride which took around 10minutes, the bus journey was around 15/20mins and was filled with likeminded runners of all shapes, sizes and ages - all heading to achieve the same goal that day.

The Marathon started in Preston Park, we had received kit bags in advance along with our race numbers, we dropped the kit bags off to begin with then headed for the toilet queues!  Everything was well organised and felt easy and relaxed (despite the pre-race nerves).  We were lucky to have a sunny bright day which was fairly warm, it was quite windy, but we really couldn’t complain too much about the conditions.  Before we knew it, we were being called to the athlete only area according to our wave colours.  Paula Radcliffe was there to start the Marathon, although we didn’t see her, it was amazing to know she was there. 

The atmosphere before we set off in our wave was buzzing with nerves and excitement, the commentator was great at hyping everyone up for the start.  Whilst I was waiting for the big moment, I suddenly heard my name being shouted and turned to see my mum and stepdad in the crowd with banners, they were supposed to be in Derbyshire for the weekend but had secretly planned to turn up and cheer me on!  It was a lovely surprise to know they were there, and I had a few tears before pulling myself together to start.  The race started and off we went!  The first 7ish miles were through the city, then we headed out along the sea front towards Rottingdean and back, encountering so many crowds of spectators as well as music playing and choirs singing along the way.

There were some hills (fairly big ones) but what comes up must come down as they say, and the downhills were a joy.  It was hard at times running with the wind blowing but was also a welcome relief from the heat.  I felt good for the first half of the marathon, but it started to get more difficult around mile 17, it really helped having the crowds around to keep the motivation going and provide a welcome distraction.  There were lots of water stations, and stations handing out energy drinks and gels, it was very well organised.  We continued along the seafront until around 19 miles and then headed into a residential part of the city and residents were out in the streets with banners cheering and holding out plates of jelly babies and bowls of orange segments, they were such a great support.  I hit mile 23 and knew I was so close to the end, but I was starting to flag, I had my last gel and tried to muster up some energy to get to the end, I then heard some loud pounding behind me, and a big group of people passed me with the 4hr pacer.  I was slightly gutted at this point as I had hoped to get under 4hrs but equally in that moment I had no desire or enough energy to try and catch up, so I had to accept it wasn’t achievable.

Those last 3 miles were so hard, all I wanted to do was start walking but I kept telling myself it would take so much longer if I stopped, and I was desperate for a can of coke ha-ha, so those thoughts kept me going to the end.  The crowds were awesome heading to the finish, and it was such a relief to cross the line!  I finished in 04:03:20. Viki and Elaine followed and along the way Viki had a selfie with Fatboy slim, Elaine showed some serious grit and determination through that run!  They both did amazingly, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without their support and friendship (and all the breakfasts of course).

I never thought I could ever run a marathon; Elaine will quote me on this! I just couldn’t imagine it, but since becoming a Hadleigh Hare and hearing about all the amazing things people have achieved over the years, it gave me the inspiration to go for it and I’m so glad I did!  It was a great experience and seeing all those people running alongside you, each with their own goals and reasons for pushing themselves it a really special thing to be a part of.   

Apparently approximately 0.01% of the global population finish a marathon each year, when you think of it like that it really is quite an amazing achievement, I am proud to be part of the 0.01% club!


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