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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Potteries Marathon 2016 - From Limavady to Stoke in 10 crazy days!

Potteries Marathon 2016

One potential use of a blog is to use it to show the results of experimentation, others can then avoid making the same mistakes themselves or, if they so wish, employing any positive snippets to their own advantage.

And in that vein the 10 days leading up to the born again Potteries Marathon were anything but conventional and produced some surprising results!

Those 10 days involved competing no less than 7 times over the following distances:

1 Mile
10k (twice)
10 Miles
Half Marathon

A recipe for disaster perhaps? Or at the very least a weary trudge around the Potteries Marathon at the end of the sequence?

Thurs 25th Jun: Around the Bridges 10 Miles (Limavady NI) 59:31 (4th)
Fri 26th Jun: Ards Half Marathon NI 1:21:02 (6th)
Sat 27th Jun: Enniskillen parkrun 18:30 (1st)
Sat 27th Jun: Dromore 10k NI 38:50 (6th)
Sun 28th Jun: Run For Paul 10k 41:34 (4th)
Weds 1st Jul: HPH Summer Mile (Leeds) 5:11.1 (6th Ht12)
Sun 5th Jul: Potteries Marathon 2:52:40 (6th)

Hannah -

Thurs 25th Jun: Around the Bridges 10 Miles (Limavady NI) 1:02:36 (1st)
Fri 26th Jun: Ards Half Marathon NI 1:23:19 (1st)
Sat 27th Jun: Enniskillen parkrun 18:53 (1st)
Sat 27th Jun: Dromore 10k NI 39:55 (1st)
Sun 28th Jun: Run For Paul 10k 40:40 (1st)
Weds 1st Jul: HPH Summer Mile (Leeds) 5:12.5 (1st)
Sun 5th Jul: Potteries Marathon 2:57:27 (1st)

Our good friends over in Belfast, Mark and Janine Ramsey, had suggested a few races that fitted together quite nicely to make a fun filled 4 day visit to Northern Ireland. It just happened that it was the week before our next marathon, ie Potteries, but that was no reason to miss out on some new exploring opportunities.

Thurs 25th June - Around The Bridges 10 Miles, Limavady (59:31 4th) (Hannah 1:02:36 1st)

I could not have even have had a wild guess as to where Limavady was before this race appeared but we were certainly glad we found it after having a brilliant evening thanks to the Springwell Running Club.

Conditions were perfect and the course was nothing worse than mildly undulating so it felt like there might be an outside chance of a sub 60 in the old legs if the early stages felt ok.

29:20 at halfway and then, despite a bit of a sting in the tail in the 10th mile, a finishing time of 59:31 justified that initial optimism :)

Gary Keenan (far left), president of Athletics Northern Ireland, had nothing but praise for this event ..... and quite rightly so.

Nobody left this race feeling hungry:

Friday 26th June - Ards Half Marathon (1:21:02 6th) (Hannah 1:23:19 1st)

This promised to be a real struggle around the hills of Newtownards after having run a hard 10 miler 24 hours earlier.

In reality though the concern about a potentially messy second half just served to make the approach towards the first half more cautious than usual. A bit achey on the early climbs but slowly but surely the legs started to respond and the final outcome of 1:21:02 was about as good as could have been expected even if there hadn't been the race the night before. This was not an easy course!

Hannah bringing it home to secure back to back wins over 24 hours:

The evening was topped off nicely with a spot of rehydration in the delightful company of (from left): Karen McElroy, Janine Ramsey, Your truly, Jennifer McAteer, Mark Ramsey, Martin Brady

Saturday 27th Jun (9am) - Enniskillen parkrun (18:30 1st) (Hannah 18:53 1st)

At 9am the next morning we were treated to a very scenic Enniskillen parkrun. Another testing course but the setting and the post run coffee venue were well worth a visit:

Saturday 27th June (12 noon) - Dromore 10k (38:50 6th) (Hannah 39:55 1st)

A quick trip up to Dromore and it was time for the 4th event of the weekend just a day and a half after the 1st.

Very much a repeat story here in the sense that a very cautious start allowed the legs to come strong in the later stages. They were tired now but for the 4th event surprisingly intact :)

Sunday 28th June - 'Run For Paul' 10k, Delamont Country Park, Downpatrick (41:34 4th) (Hannah 40:40 1st)

This was a masterpiece in race organisation by the legendary Mags Mathieson.

With just 2 weeks from idea to race day this event brought the NI running community together in double quick time to raise much needed urgent medical funds for Paul Brannigan.

It was an undoubted success and a cracking day all round.

The inspirational duo that is Mark and Janine Ramsey:

(From left) Mags Mathieson, Hannah, Paul Brannigan and Max Mcroberts:

Finally we got Mags to the pub to reflect on a job well done :)

And the reason why Mags is rather well known, and hugely popular, in NI running circles:

Wednesday 1st July - Hyde Park Summer Mile, Leeds (5:11.1 6th Ht12) (Hannah 5:12.5)

The Hyde Park Summer Mile is now in it's 5th year and just keeps getting bigger and better. This year was a sell out with 13 heats of 15 runners tackling the 2 lap course around Woodhouse Moor.

Over the 5 years it has also been noticeable just how much Hyde Park Harriers has grown as a club. So much so that in Heat 12 John Robson (just visible in the shades) and myself were caught up in the middle of a proper club burn up. Hannah is also in the mix too but just out of shot running wide.

A thoroughly enjoyable event with the one and only Sam Dooley at the helm, supported by an army of HPH volunteers.

The race itself was very surprising, delivering the fastest time of all the 5 years. After the weekend in Northern Ireland that certainly wasn't expected but it provided a good indication that recovery between races was coming along ok. Hannah also pulled off her fastest run at this event with 5:12.5.

Sun 5th July - The Potteries Marathon 2016 (2:52:40 6th) (Hannah 2:57:27 1st)

So now for the 7th event in 10 days. We knew it was going to be lumpy but what we experienced has got to be the hilliest road marathon that I've experienced out of the 50 or so completed.

It was pretty hot and humid too by the second half so, all in all, a challenging set of circumstances.

So did it turn out to be as much of a struggle as it might be reasonable to expect given the build up? Absolutely not, it was one of those days where the legs just seemed to lap it up but, as Hannah neatly summed it up, you could never take the handbrake fully off because running the course blind and knowing there were numerous hills ahead required an element of holding something in reserve.

Talking of hills, it was mentioned in one course description that there were 28 'significant hills' and the overwhelming response to that from those that ran was that that sounded like an understatement.

It would be easy to assume from Ben Fish's winning time of 2:26 that the course was relatively easy but Ben was quick to point out that he felt his performance was right up there with his 2:19 PB.

It isn't totally clear where these photos were taken of Hannah (2:57 1st lady), Kelvin Dickinson (2:57 1st V40) and myself (2:52 1st V45) but I think they nicely sum up the spirit in which this event was approached - nice and relaxed with a real feel good factor:

And just for amusement, the photo above in the 2015 Potteries Marathon was of the same chap as the one below in the Potteries Marathon 22 years earlier. That day produced a time of 2:48:58 on a kinder course than the new incarnation. If only 4 minutes is lost in the next 22 years........... :)

This was the approach to the finish at the Brittania Stadium clearly showing the enthusiasm for bringing back this event. We were all quite surprised at just how much support there was all the way around the course, a factor which will probably go a long way to making sure this race is back for good.

There were lots of twists and turns lots of ups and downs and lots of reasons why this should have gone horribly wrong.

But all those ingredients served to make the finishing time of 2:52:40 and 6th place overall all the more sweet ....... and incredibly surprising!

As for Hannah's eventual result :)

The feel good factor of this event continued well into the afternoon and evening, (from left) Mark Ramsey, Janine Ramsey, Hannah, Myself, Kelvin Dickinson, Caz Hall

It was interesting that Mark had what was undoubtedly his best ever marathon performance (3:46), just 1 minute outside his PB run at Manchester earlier in the year, a course touted as the flattest in the country.

The interesting aspect of this is that Mark also competed in most of the NI races with us last weekend and yet bounced around the Potteries hills with a broad grin on his face.

2015 Marathons:

2015 March - Wrexham Marathon 2:48:12 (Age 48) (5th)
2015 April - Canberra ACT Marathon 2:52:10 (Age 48) (15th)
2015 April - London Marathon 2:50:55 (Age 48)
2015 May - Belfast City Marathon 2:54:54 (Age 48) 
2015 May - Kent Roadrunner Marathon 2:53:34 (Age 49) (4th)
2015 July - Potteries Marathon 2:52:40 (Age 49) (6th)

2015 Marathons (Hannah):

2015 March - Wrexham Marathon 2:52:40 (1st)
2015 April - Canberra ACT Marathon 2:54:26 (2nd)
2015 April - London Marathon 2:50:07 (26th)
2015 May - Belfast City Marathon 2:57:08 (5th)
2015 May - Kent Roadrunner Marathon 2:53:44 (1st)
2015 July - Potteries Marathon 2:57:27 (1st)

Discussion Points:

Considering normally accepted marathon training principles, this last 12 months (and especially the last 6 months) have been a revelation about how thoroughly enjoyable marathon running can be by looking at things a little bit differently.

2015 has consisted of:

1. No LSRs at all - in fact there have only been a couple of occasions of training runs in double figures. In the past, 5-7 x 20-22 milers in a build up have often resulted in miserable falling apart experiences.

2. The 7:00-8:00 pace range has been avoided completely, both in training and racing. Obviously this would be relative to individuals but this equates to avoiding, say, marathon pace + 30s to marathon pace + 90s. The difference that I have noticed is that this has really improved recovery between races and also eliminated a lot of the little niggles that I used to experience.

3. The last 5 weeks between Kent Roadrunner Marathon and Potteries Marathon have consisted of nothing other than 4 mile training runs at 8:00/mile+. There have usually been 2 per day but all at 4 miles. Obviously this isn't suggesting that you can just run 4 milers and then have an enjoyable marathon but that is what we have used as the filling around the marathon building blocks below.

There's always something to learn :)

Marathon Building Blocks:

15th Feb: 18.6 miles @ 6:16/mile
22nd Feb: 10.0 miles @ 6:04/mile
28th Feb: 3.1 miles @ 5:48/mile
28th Feb: 3.1 miles @ 5:50/mile
1st March: 13.1 miles @ 6:24/mile
8th March: 26.21 miles @ 6:23/mile
14th March: 3.1 miles @ 5:46/mile
14th March: 3.1 miles @ 5:36/mile
15th March: 20.0 miles @ 6:25/mile
21st March: 3.1 miles @ 5:45/mile
22nd March: 9.65 miles @ 6:18/mile
28th March: 3.1 miles @ 5:45/mile
29th March:  11.2 miles @ 6:08/mile)
4th April: 3.1 miles @ 6:00/mile
12th April: 26.21 miles @ 6:35/mile
18th April: 3.1 miles @ 5:40/mile
19th April: 5.8 miles @ 6:04/mile
26th April: 26.21 miles @ 6:32/mile
4th May: 26.21 miles @ 6:40/mile
6th May: 3.1 miles @ 5:36/mile
10th May: 13.1 miles @ 6:15/mile
13th May: 3.1 miles @ 5:36/mile
16th May: 3.1 miles @ 5:45/mile
17th May: 13.1 miles @ 6:03/mile
20th May: 3.1 miles @ 5:37/mile
23rd May: 3.1 miles @ 5:45/mile
24th May: 1.0 mile @ 5:07/mile
30th May: 26.21 miles @ 6:37/mile
6th Jun: 3.1 miles @ 5:58/mile
7th Jun: 13.1 miles @ 6:05/mile
10th Jun: 10.0 miles @ 6:20/mile
13th Jun: 3.1 miles @ 5:50/mile
14th Jun: 13.1 miles @ 6:02/mile
20th Jun: 3.1 miles @ 5:54/mile
20th Jun: 3.1 miles @ 5:40/mile
21st Jun: 6.21 miles @ 6:31/mile
25th Jun: 10.0 miles @ 5:57/mile
26th Jun: 13.1 miles @ 6:11/mile
27th Jun: 3.1 miles @ 5:57/mile
27th Jun: 6.21 miles @ 6:15/mile
28th Jun: 6.21 miles @ 6:42/mile
1st Jul: 1.0 miles @ 5:11/mile
5th Jul: 26.21 miles @ 6:35/mile

Recent Marathon Record

2009 April - Blackpool Marathon 3:24:17 (Age 42)
2009 September - Fleetwood Marathon DNF (Age 43)
2010 October - Amsterdam Marathon 3:04:27 (Age 44)
2010 November - Milton Keynes Track Marathon DNF (Age 44)
2011 April - London Marathon 3:18:30 (Age 44)
2012 April - London Marathon 2:57:04 (Age 45)
2012 October - Chester 2:55:36 (Age 46)
2013 April - London Marathon 3:11:29 (Age 46)
2013 June - Cork Marathon 3:06:19 (Age 47)
2013 October - Budapest Marathon 2:58:53 (Age 47)
2013 December - Lancaster Marathon 2:54:17 (Age 47) (1st)
2013 December - Pisa Marathon 2:54:09 (Age 47)
2014 April - Manchester Marathon 2:51:52 (Age 47)
2014 April - London Marathon 2:57:52 (Age 47)
2014 June - Rhyl Marathon 2:58:24 (Age 48)
2014 October - Yorkshire Marathon 2:47:34 (Age 48)
2014 October - Dublin Marathon 2:58:53 (Age 48)
2014 November - Town Moor Marathon 2:54:56 (Age 48) (1st)
2015 March - Wrexham Marathon 2:48:12 (Age 48) (5th)
2015 April - Canberra ACT Marathon 2:52:10 (Age 48) (15th)
2015 April - London Marathon 2:50:55 (Age 48)
2015 May - Belfast City Marathon 2:54:54 (Age 48) 
2015 May - Kent Roadrunner Marathon 2:53:34 (Age 49) (4th)
2015 July - Potteries Marathon 2:52:40 (Age 49) (6th)

When this blog started, which was about the comeback in 2008, it was fully expected that by 2015 it would all have been about how much time was being lost each year as the ageing process took hold.

But since that doesn't seem to have been the case just yet a new target has emerged. While looking for races the table below was stumbled upon. It lists the longest time spans between first and last sub 3 marathons.

The first reaction was to go 'wow' at the thought of someone running sub 3s 39 years apart. But then it started to become even more interesting to see that only 48 people are known to have surpassed 30 years.

The first provable sub 3 for myself was Brussels Marathon (2:52) in October 1985 and it therefore came as something of a shock to realise that Potteries (2:52) last Sunday was 29 years 9 months after the first one.

You never know what might happen from here on but hopefully the last sub 3 hasn't been run just yet and so it will be interesting to see if, firstly, I could get on that table and then, secondly, to see how far up it can be achieved.

It looks like the British record stands at 35 years 182 days and is held by the highly respected prolific runner, and Runner's World coach, Steve Smythe.

As for 39 years - that's a long long way into the future :p 

Longest Time Spans Between First and Last Sub-X Marathons


39y188d  15 Apr 1974 => 20 Oct 2013   Doug Kurtis (12 Mar 1952,USA) 
38y271d  02 Jul 1972 => 20 Mar 2011   Dave Elger (29 Aug 1953,USA) 
37y122d  17 Jun 1973 => 17 Oct 2010   Mark Lohman (18 Apr 1958,USA) 
 37y101d  25 Nov 1973 => 06 Mar 2011   Rich Walker (09 Apr 1956,USA) 
36y305d  16 Jan 1977 => 17 Nov 2013   Terry Permar (09 Jun 1954,USA) 
36y269d  05 Dec 1976 => 31 Aug 2013   Antonio Arreola (24 Aug 1959,USA) 
36y158d  07 Nov 1976 => 15 Apr 2013   Reno Stirrat (19 Apr 1954,USA) 
36y110d  10 Jan 1976 => 29 Apr 2012   Don Demetriades (19 Dec 1960,USA) 
36y 48d  26 Feb 1977 => 15 Apr 2013   Doug Jacobson (08 Apr 1956,USA) 
36y 25d  03 Feb 1974 => 28 Feb 2010   Hideko Kita (28 Sep 1952,JPN) 
35y327d  05 Nov 1978 => 28 Sep 2014   James Garcia (30 Jun 1958,USA) 
35y280d  15 Jul 1978 => 21 Apr 2014   Gary Allen (29 Jan 1957,USA) 
35y182d  23 Oct 1976 => 22 Apr 2012   Steve Smythe (18 Mar 1958,GBR) 
35y175d  26 Oct 1974 => 19 Apr 2010   Kerry Green (05 Apr 1954,USA) 
35y 90d  25 Feb 1978 => 26 May 2013   Roger Wyllie (22 Oct 1959,CAN) 
34y363d  21 Apr 1975 => 19 Apr 2010   Dennis Kurtis (01 Nov 1953,USA) 
34y133d  23 Apr 1966 => 03 Sep 2000   Don Ritchie (06 Jul 1944,SCO) 
33y351d  05 May 1979 => 21 Apr 2013   Chris Finill (31 Dec 1958,ENG) 
33y330d  19 Oct 1980 => 14 Sep 2014   Bob VanLangenhoven (14 Apr 1962,USA) 
33y232d  20 Apr 1980 => 08 Dec 2013   Kirk Mueller (29 May 1961,USA) 
33y190d  10 Sep 1977 => 19 Mar 2011   Terrence Stanley (05 Sep 1952,USA) 
33y189d  29 Jul 1979 => 03 Feb 2013   Vladimir Kotov (21 Feb 1958,BLR) 
33y137d  19 Apr 1934 => 03 Sep 1967   Johnny A Kelley (06 Sep 1907,USA) 
33y 51d  14 Jan 1979 => 05 Mar 2012   Steven Schuman (18 Jul 1962,USA) 
32y364d  19 Apr 1910 => 18 Apr 1943   Clarence DeMar (07 Jun 1888,USA) 
32y363d  19 Apr 1967 => 17 Apr 2000   Laurence Olsen (14 Nov 1946,USA) 
32y234d  25 Mar 1973 => 14 Nov 2010   Heung-Ju Moon (14 Feb 1949,KOR) 
32y191d  30 Apr 1978 => 07 Nov 2010   Orlando Pizzolato (30 Jul 1958,ITA) 
32y149d  08 Jul 1979 => 04 Dec 2011   Mark Murray (1962,USA) 
32y113d  25 Feb 1979 => 18 Jun 2011   Dennis Wallach (19 Jul 1957,USA) 
32y 95d  13 Jan 1979 => 18 Apr 2011   Budd Coates (06 Apr 1957,USA) 
32y 92d  06 Dec 1959 => 07 Mar 1992   Barry Magee (06 Feb 1934,NZL) 
32y 67d  12 Feb 1977 => 20 Apr 2009   Rob French (14 Jul 1958,USA) 
32y 51d  20 Aug 1978 => 10 Oct 2010   Lee Pollock (07 Sep 1952,USA) 
32y 11d  04 Apr 1981 => 15 Apr 2013   John Loftus (USA) 
32y  9d  04 Dec 1949 => 13 Dec 1982   Keizo Yamada (30 Nov 1927,JPN) 
32y  8d  02 Dec 1979 => 10 Dec 2011   Brian Baker (27 Jan 1962,USA) 
31y339d  05 Nov 1978 => 10 Oct 2010   Greg Skopec (18 Nov 1961,USA) 
31y329d  04 Nov 1979 => 09 Oct 2011   Peter LaGoy (21 Jul 1959,USA) 
31y270d  14 Mar 1976 => 09 Dec 2007   Kaneo Hikima (11 Sep 1954,JPN) 
31y268d  04 Mar 1979 => 27 Nov 2010   Bob Schwelm (03 Jan 1959,USA) 
31y242d  22 Sep 1979 => 22 May 2011   Kevin Hesketh (05 Apr 1954,WAL) 
31y172d  27 Oct 1979 => 17 Apr 2011   Nick Sirs (04 Jan 1957,ENG) 
31y 16d  19 Apr 1971 => 05 May 2002   Don Slusser (31 Oct 1951,USA) 
30y362d  20 Apr 1953 => 20 Apr 1984   John J Kelley (24 Dec 1930,USA) 
30y244d  16 Aug 1980 => 17 Apr 2011   Mick McGeoch (15 Aug 1955,WAL) 
30y129d  07 Nov 1982 => 16 Mar 2013   David Haaga (25 Jul 1961,USA) 
30y 76d  12 Jul 1969 => 26 Sep 1999   Colin Youngson (27 Oct 1947,SCO)

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