Before We Start
I’m always super nervous before a race and The Eden Project Marathon was no exception. Despite loads of training (possibly overload?), I was unsure if I would make it round this one. Following on from the RAT, when it came to picking up the training again and adding more miles, my body was telling me not to. I’ve been physically fatigued and I think this is why my sciatica returned 2 weeks from race day.
After doing loads of stretches and resting, I felt more confident about completing the course. So I rocked up at Eden, dressed in pink with ridiculously loud compression socks (it’s my new thing), ready to roll. There was a technical tee, medal, pasty, and a can of Tribute to run for!
I had mixed feelings about this race. This meant I wasn’t my usual fired up self (which is my preferred pre-race mood). I knew I had the miles in my legs but I wasn’t looking forward to the pain and the mental energy I would have to put in. My last few long runs had felt like a chore, and I didn’t want the Eden Marathon to have the same feeling.
When I arrived, Eden was buzzing. With runners for the half and full marathon waiting instruction, the atmosphere was good. When the starting gun went off, there was whoop of surprise from us runners.
The first 3 miles were downhill. It’s one of those things where I’m never quite sure if I should run quite freely or put the breaks on a bit – what do others do?
From here, the course hits a gradual uphill trail (lots of mud and leaves) for a good few miles before meeting the road and heading towards the little village of Luxulyan. From here, we hung a right, and headed out into the countryside, towards Helman’s Tor.
I have to say, Despite being 100% Cornish, my geography is quite atrocious. I’m unfamiliar with the back lanes that made up the route, and at times, I had no idea where we were. Appalling but true! Even looking at the route online, and having someone go over it with me, left me none the wiser.
You can find the route here.
Some parts of the race are a bit of a blur. I remember making my way towards, and up, Helman’s Tor – it’s hard to forget! It’s a steep climb (no one was running, well not in my group anyway) and a photographer was waiting for us at the top to catch our lovely facial expressions.
From here, I started to enjoy myself a bit more. Despite already covering some offroad, I started to relax running down from Helman’s Tor and through the ankle deep mud that awaited us. Miles 10 to about 16 felt ok. My mind had wandered to other things, such as how much I wanted an ice cream, rather than focussing on my leg. However, the last 10 miles were a bit more of a test for me.
This part of the route involves a running a stretch of road for the second time. initially covered around miles 6-8. Lots of hills, so I knew what was coming. At some point I started talking to a lovely man called Pete who, I think, had completed every Eden Marathon to date (crazy man!). I told him I quite liked the mud and trails and as he pressed past me, he turned with his thumbs up, telling me there was a lovely off road descent very soon. And he wasn’t wrong!
As expected with any marathon, from mile 16 (or thereabouts) the pain started to kick in. Sometimes it’s bearable and my mind can work wonders at ignoring it. At others, it’s all I can think about. I found myself having to walk small stretches and it took me a few miles to find a new stride or rhythm.
At miles 20, I told myself there was only 10k to go. Again, at mile 23 I told myself there was only 5k left. But the pain! My ITB was starting to niggle so I tried to focus on my form. It’s a hilly course but there’s a phenomenal climb at mile 23 (thanks for that!). From here, we were guided back onto the final bit of trail which eventually met up with the entrance to The Eden Project.
At mile 24 I started getting emotional but knew it wasn’t the time to get emotional. Anxiety related breathing happened. I struggled to catch my breath, and knew if I didn’t take control, a panic attack was likely. I promptly told myself to get a grip and finish the job.
As I approached the Eden Project, I passed those who had already finished the half, and full, walking to their cars. They offered lots of encouragement and smiles. It’s over a mile to the biomes, and on race day on tired legs, it felt infinite! The only concession being it was all downhill, whoo-hoo!
I tried to bomb it, and while my speed increased, my poor little legs just couldn’t go any faster.
Finally, I crossed the finish line 4 hours and 23 minutes after I left the Eden Project. What a crazy ride. I swore blind I wouldn’t do it again but it’s a bit like childbirth, isn’t it? Despite the pain, it’s not long before you’re contemplating another one, or even a re-run! Who knows?
It’s a tough, challenging course, there’s no doubt about that. It’s quiet too although there were lots of spectators at Luxulyan. The course is scenic, well this is Cornwall. I can’t fault the Eden Project’s organisation, as well as the support and guidance of all the marshals. Thank you.
For our efforts we got a medal, a technical tee, a pasty (who had all the beef ones?), a can of Tribute, a handful of tester Weleda products, and some Pukka teabags. Back at the Core Building, the lovely peeps from Weleda had bowls of warm water with healing Arnica for our feet.
What a treat, it felt like heaven! Thank you!
Marathon pictures by Patto’s Pics – here
Number of comments about my socks – 8.