Monday, June 8, 2015

Marathon 49 of 60

Another day, another marathon; they're coming thick and fast at the moment aren't they?!

This time I was heading off right to the top of Kent over at Minnis Bay. I'd never been there before but I knew it was going to be quite a trek, especially since the start time was 7am. This meant I had to leave home by 4:45am which at least meant that the roads would be quiet!

It was another of Travis and Rachel's events so I knew it was going to be well-organised and very friendly and I'd been looking forward to this one for a while. I'll let the photos do most of the talking:

As I drove through the countryside the sun was rising and there was a mist hanging low over the fields. It was so beautiful I just had to stop to take a photo.
I knew my way to Margate and that Minnis Bay was just before I got there but unfortunately I missed the turning and had to double back. Silly Susie! Never mind, I got a glimpse of the Turner Contemporary which I haven't seen since the last time I ran the Kent Coastal marathon a couple of years ago and my short detour gave me an opportunity to fill the car with fuel as I had plenty of time to spare.

As I parked up along the sea wall everywhere looked stunning. The first person I met as Andrew who I'd last seen at the Cakeathon where he manned the cake stand. The next few photos were taken by the Start area:

The view to the West

The view to the East

Lots of people I knew were milling around.

Travis did his usual pre-race speech including congratulations to Donna and Joe who both celebrated their 100th marathons the night before. Someone celebrated his a bit too well and was slightly the worse for wear! He also presented Paul with the traditional Cadbury's flake to celebrate his 99th marathon (d'ya geddit? - for those of you who aren't familiar with this quaint British custom a '99' is an ice-cream cornet with a flake stuck into the ice-cream ). Paul then decided to give us a motivational speech and managed not to use expletives on this occasion. Sorry I can't be there for your 100th Paul but I expect those South Downs uPdulations will get some choice words from you!!! Oh and another event worthy of note was that Ellan arrived on time (tee hee!)

The route was 4 x out and back loops of 6.58 miles, dead flat and impossible to get lost. Perfect. As usual this meant that you'd be passing people going in the opposite direction which made for a very sociable marathon experience. I took far too many photos, including loads of the flora, as everywhere looked amazing so here's a small selection of what I saw en-route:

It was the intensity of the blues that caught my eye. The geese were an unexpected bonus! The sails of the windmills in the wind farm seemed to echo the shape of the birds.

The light shimmered like liquid silver on this small section of the sea.

I zoomed in to see what the small blobs on the edge of the land mass were doing. Ah, fishing!

This small inlet had me transfixed and looked slightly different each time I passed. This is my favourite shot as it's like a miniature version of Minnis Bay complete with a sandy beach and coves.

There were lots of container ships on the horizon.

When we set off we runners had the path to ourselves, probably for a couple of hours. Then the cyclists arrived joined by a few dog-walkers. You can see the tide has started to go out.

In the distance you can see a blob which is the remains of St Mary's Church, Reculver and the turn-around point was just below there. Greg was an absolute star and cycled back and forth handing out water as the day became hotter. I was very grateful for that water on my last lap as it was very hot.

As the tide went out it revealed a beautiful sandy beach

A lovely place to sit and take in the view
I was beside myself with excitement at the wonderful display of flowers alongside the footpath and I took far too many photos so have restricted myself to just 2 to give a bit of background about these 2 special plants, both of which are popular with Chefs at the moment.

The first is Tragopogon porrifolius, aka Salsify or 'Oyster plant' which I grow at home for it's lovely purpley-pink flowers but is prized by Chefs for it's edible root because it tastes a bit like Oysters (or so I'm told but as a vegetarian I wouldn't know!). It was wonderful to see it growing wild.

The next one honoured us with it's glorious bright yellow flowers. This exotic looking specimen is Glaucium flavum, the yellow-horned poppy and there were so many of these plants thriving in the shingle. What a treat.

Some of the other plants I spotted were Crambe maritima (aka Sea kale, another Chefy favourite), Malva neglecta (Mallow), Fennel, Sedum acre (in the mortar of sun-baked concrete blocks), Sea beet and even a Rosa rugosa growing in the shingle (how on earth does that survive the Winter tides?!!!). It was a feast for the eyes of a Nature-geek and I loved it.

Oh yes, back to the running bit. As it was hot I knew I wouldn't be putting in a quick time so I just dug in for a bit of steady plodding. There was plenty of chatter, some high-fiving and a lovely hug from Karen (thanks Karen). Some legends were taking part too - Steve Edwards ran his 687th marathon to become the first Brit to run 300 sub 3:15 official marathons, Brian Mills clocking up another one (he featured on here last year for passing the 1000 marathon mark and must be up to 1100?), Gil who's tally is somewhere in the 600s, Ruth, who I've know for many years and for whom I crocheted Happy the Hippo, will be completing her 400th marathon later this year and Ellen Iaquaniello who's recently run 10 marathons in 10 days for the second successive year. I suspect there were several other inspirational runners who I just don't know yet!

I liked the longer laps and I got to halfway point feeling fine but slowed down in the second half as it was just too hot for me.

The ladies at the aid station, Mandy, Dee and crew did a grand job of keeping us all hydrated and fed. 

Around midday there were people swimming in the sea.

Children paddling in shallow pools with yachts in the background

The beach got busier as the morning wore on

I loved the different coloured beach-huts. They always look so jolly on a sunny day, less so in Winter!
Ruth took this photo of me as I headed towards the finish (thanks Ruth).

Relaxing at the finish
I plodded home in 5:17:26 and was presented with this lovely medal and the usual wonderful goody bag.

All in all another grand day out and I'll definitely be doing it again next year (ageing legs permitting!). Thanks to Travis and Rachel and everyone who makes these events so special.

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