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Race Report: Cornish Marathon

The question: why do I do this race every year?
The answer: for the hoody
Not the answer: because it's an easy race

Race Report: Cornish Marathon

Paul Johnson

8 November 2022

Link for further info

Gathering at the start this year there was almost a sense if celebration having made it past Covid cancellations with the last event being in 2019. However the weather decided to have it's say and things looked bleak as we (the mad 300) gathered at the start line in the pouring rain.
The course laps twice around Pensilva before heading off into the wilds. Those first 2 laps tease you with the ups and downs you can expect for the next few hours. There were loads of supporters out cheering as we went through the village giving a real boost and making it too easy to push harder than you should, knowing there are still 20+ hard miles to come.
We climbed on the deceptively long uphill out of Pensilva and then the next few miles roll through little villages (like the brilliantly named Crows Nest where I swear one day I will stop in that pub for a drink, not just run past it dreaming of a cold pint).
The route swings through Golitha Falls where you could hear the cheers for a mile as we approached. That moment is a real boost and one you need to hang onto as the shine wears off and you need to think about finding your rhythm.
From Golitha there are some impressive hills and big ups (a chance for a cheeky walk and this year's marathon fuel: babybelle).
The Cornish Marathon is a beautiful course, if you can take a glance away from the hills. Thr autumn colours were out and you catch occasional views down to the south coastline. But it was time to dig in a bit as we headed out onto Bodmin Moor to be greeted by dark skies and sweeping showers. The reservoir itself was still very low so maybe a bit of rain wasn't too much to take. And thank you Debbie for your shout of 'Suck it up princess!' as you drove by!
Another high point (quite literally) of this course is Jamaica Inn at mile 15 where many supporters gather lending you another boost before the difficult miles. My pitstop this year saw my wonderful wife have some Earl Grey tea ready to quickly drink (I tell everyone who'll listen that tea is my go-to race fuel) and replenish the Tailwind then off onto the next stage.
Draynes Valley. For those in the know it can prove the hardest part of this course. On paper it's roughly 5 miles of gentle downhill following the River Fowey. Easy miles right? Not so. After the cheers at the Inn this can feel very lonely and a section where your mind tells you to stop or what harm can a bit of walking do before you're wondering if it will ever end. This is the first year I actually think I beat the Draynes Valley demons by looking ahead and just choosing people ahead of me who I would try and overtake before we left the Valley. Not a strategy for everyone but it worked and I must have passed 10 people, some who were walking.
You pass the Golitha Falls turning and you are now back onto the last 5 miles that you ran out, ticking off the sites but also asking 'was it really that much hill?' I managed to pass a salt tablet to Stu who had been hit by cramp (you were really smashing it Stu) and fortunately Dawn, Andy and Sophie were able to get him sorted.
I had to give in and walk a couple of hills unfortunately but promised myself I would run/walk them as I wanted to put in a decent time after a couple of meltdowns in the past.
The final uphill leaves you at the top before just under a mile of downhill which your quads don't thank you for. The mind needed to stay focused and although you wonder when you will see the end you know it's coming, just keep moving legs!
A turn left into the Millennium Centre and rising into the car park you cross the timing mat to be awarded your medal and customary water and banana. Personally my hips were agony and it took two cups of tea and the pasty you get before I could consider moving again.
But then if we are going to run 26.2 miles it seems natural that our bodies will protest! I managed 3h42m this year which beat my best here by 10 minutes which made it all slightly more worth it!
There were lots of great performances by STARC members as always and it's when you all sit down at the end in a satisfied collective that I enjoy the most about races. The endorphins flowing along with the tea (or beer for some!)
So, why do the Cornish? For the challenge. And the hoody.
And I'll probably be back next year to do it all again!
If you've made it this far then maybe you could write a report of your next race and maybe inspire others to take on a new challenge.

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