New member Rob Foster reports: Milton Keynes Marathon was my first race since joining Bournville Harriers and I had chosen it because the website had described it as fast and flat with PB potential.
A hip injury in the build up to the race meant that I was going to be a long way short of my PB but having recovered fully from the problem in the last couple of weeks I was at least expecting to run quite strongly and enjoy the race.
The weather on the day was challenging! Apparently it was the most rain in Milton Keynes in a 24 hour period for 25 years. Added to that, because of the driving wind, the rain was travelling sideways. All this conspired to make the start area a bit chaotic. Instead of everybody congregating in the car park near to the start, they all squeezed into the concourse of the MK Dons football stadium.
The race started without too much fuss. The start zones were well marshalled and most people seemed to have gone to the right place. The course itself was mainly on ‘Redways’, a network of pedestrian and cycle paths that form a web across the city and make it possible to travel large distances without going anywhere near a major road as each road crossing is negotiated via an underpass.
Whilst this meant that the course was traffic free, it was also constantly up and down some fairly steep ramps and twisting and turning all over the place. Many of the underpasses were also flooded on the day because of the tremendous amount of rain that had fallen. There were some nice more open areas of the course, mainly around the Caldecotte and Willen lakes but flooded paths here meant some very muddy cross country and the driving and gusting winds made the going tough.
By the twenty mile mark I was still feeling generally good but my legs were starting to tire, so the fact that the only two real hills of the course came at 22 and 24 miles was a bit of a sting in the tail. Ignoring the worsening weather conditions, the last mile, approaching and entering Stadium MK was quite pleasant and on a nicer day would have been uplifting. The lack of a finish gantry and a set of timing mats about 100m before the finish did create some confusion about where to actually stop running.
On reflection the day after, I think that the organisers did pretty well on their first attempt under the circumstances. The marshals were fantastic and remained cheerful throughout and the support was great considering what they had to endure (thank you to Hilary for being there at mile 16). However, the thing that means that I shall not be returning to Milton Keynes is the course. There just too many twists and turns, too many ups and downs through the underpasses and in places, the course was just too narrow for the 3000 people who finished.
I ran 4:12 which although 27 minutes slower than my last time out at Chester, I am pretty pleased with considering the conditions. My memories of the day may also be slightly clouded by the fact that the taxi firm that we had used in the morning to get from the hotel refused to pick up in the area of the stadium later as it was too busy and so we had a three mile walk to the station to catch the train back to Birmingham.