Bristol to Bath Marathon 2015
Sunday 25th October saw the running of the inaugural Bristol to Bath marathon, and a hardy band of Harriers decided to join in the fun. For most of us, this was to be our first marathon, made all the more exciting by being on home turf and the promise of the famous Green Army support.
The morning of the race dawned dry and clear as we gathered in Queens Square, a big relief after the heavy rain of the previous day. A quick pose for the photographer from the Evening Post, then it was out onto Prince Street to the start pens, and we were off, all nerves forgotten as the sea of runners streamed around the Centre, in front of the Hippodrome and headed for the open road.
The first half of the race took us out and back along the Portway, familiar territory to most of us from running Bristol 10k and Half Marathon races. We were soon treated to the sight of the front runners coming back the other way and there was a lot of over-excited shouting and waving every time a fellow Harrier was spotted. The sun came out, the 5 hour pacer was playing cheesy 80s pop, and there was a fantastic steel band to keep our spirits up.
After the traditional battle cry of “Oggy Oggy Oggy” in the tunnel, we were back into Bristol, then heading off in to uncharted territory as the race route turned south and we trundled through St Phillips to Netham Lock and the halfway point and then things took an upward turn. Literally. We had been warned that this would be a race of two halves, and that was no understatement as we seemed to climb interminably for the next four miles. I’m sure there were some downhills, but I must have missed them.
We battled on, entering the South Gloucestershire hinterland and wondering if the road would ever be flat again, and then suddenly we were at the 18 mile mark, running into Bitton to be greeted by the sea of green that was the Harriers base camp. We were bombarded by hugs, high fives, jelly babies and the Green Army Wall of Noise ™ and runners around us looked stunned at the incredible support. It was hard to hold back the tears as we left the Green Army behind, but there was a job to be done, so we pressed on.
The next few miles continued the upward trend, including the infamous Kelston Hill, about which the least said the better, although there was a cracking view at the top over the honey-coloured stone of Bath bathed in autumn sunshine, if you could muster the energy to look. Then we were onto the final stretch, dropping down into Bath, whilst still seemingly climbing up. This race defied the laws of physics.
We turned into Milsom Street, then round the Abbey and a final push up towards Victoria Park and the finishing straight, lined with cheering spectators urging us on to the line and the realisation that we had just run 26.2 miles!
First Harrier home was Paul Haynes in 3.45.01. Tony Harris was next in 4.09.04, with Caroline Macdonald the first female Harrier in 4.10.35 and Ian Kilgarriff in 4.11.05. Phil Halls crossed the line in 4.37.24, and then there was a flurry of Harrier action with Matt Munday in 4.51.07, Ronan Conlan in 4.51.28 and Donna Conlan-Jones in 4.53.11. Shelley Armorgie finished in 5.24.20, with Michelle Picken next in 5.31.07, Jim Emsley in 5.34.40, Deb Roberts in 5.38.55 and Lorraine Norris in 6.11.28
Report by Shelley Armorgie