Monday, 12 September 2016

Going for the full fat Bacchus option

After having a great experience running the Bacchus half marathon last year I some how found myself running the full marathon this year with running buddies Chris and Tony

In case your unfamiliar with Bacchus you can get a feel for the event from my previous post here but basically its a trail run in and around Denbies vineyard where fancy dress is strongly encouraged with wine and a whole host of snacks available to runners on route. 

So you are correct to assume that its an event that is basically a party with a bit of running thrown in. You would also be correct to assume that running 13 miles as opposed to 26 miles as part of this party would make it more enjoyable and less of a strenuous test of fitness and endurance. 

Never the less I found myself up at 5.30, out of the house at 6.30 having a lift to the station (thanks wife, much appreciated) to catch the 6.51 train. 

I soon found myself on the 8.04 from Waterloo heading deep into Surrey with a good supply of coffee and jaffa cakes as a magical transformation took place to transform three average runners into three suitably attired gallant musketeers looking the part as 18th century French gentlemen ready to defend King and Country if necessary. 

Our transformation complete we made our way into race HQ to pick up our race packs and drop our bags off. Having successfully negotiated the crowds of pirates, bees, pixies, minions, unicorns, Roman centurions chilling out before the later start of the half marathon we took our place on the start line with a little over 100 other hardy souls ready to take on the full fat marathon experience.

So the race is pretty simple, drink stops every 2 miles or so and 2x 13 mile laps for us marathon runners. 

The course is predominantly trail, very pretty in parts, some great views over rural Surrey as we ran through vineyards, fields, shady woods and up steep hills. 

The drink stops provided much needed rest bite and refreshment on what was a hotter than expected late summers day.

A full range of wines were available at the different stops along with a variety of snacks including mars bars, jaffa cakes, biscuits, cakes, fruit, sweets, crisps, popcorn and even cocktail sausages at one stop which were an unexpected treat. 

Our costumes were well received and we merrily greeted runners, cyclists, motorists and walkers alike with enthusiast cries of 'Bonjour!', 'Allez!' and 'En Guard!', well we were enthusiast on the first lap in any case!

It was great to chat with the marshals on the course and at the stops and of course with other runners on route, special mention so Scary Spice and the Stormtropper! 

The party atmosphere was definitely missing from my experience from the previous year as we missed pretty much all the bands (with the exception of the last few tracks from Paparazzi at stop 4), drink stops despite enthusiast marshals were sparse of runners as opposed to the heaving, buzzing party venues they would have been for the half marathon runners. 

We still very much enjoyed ourselves though chatting and joking  amongst ourselves and trying to convince passers by that we felt as 'cool as a cucumber!' in our costumes. (For the record they were a bit toasty but not too bad). The red wine and cheese at stop 7 and the sparkling wine and chocolate brownie at stop 4 provided a much needed sugar rush on the second lap. 

Overall my verdict would be that that the marathon is too tough as the course is actually pretty brutal and you cant afford to take it lightly by messing around with wine and snacks. Secondly you miss all the party action which is really why you sign up to this event in the first place. it was also disappointing to find most of the drink stations packing up shop on the second lap and the race HQ closing down by the time we finished in just over 6 hours. Not that slow a marathon time and certainly not a slow time when you consider the time spent stopping to chat, drink wine or eat snacks. 

For me personally the race was tough as since Spitfire Scramble 4 weeks ago I haven't really trained and have only managed 9 miles as my longest run. Compared with Chris and Tony who are both well into training for Autumn marathons posting some impressive times and distances in recent weeks I struggled to keep pace. The first lap was OK and up to around mile 15 was just about bearable but after that it became painfully tough and the last 2 miles were struggle as my knee started playing up. Thanks for slowing down for me guys, all for one and one for all! Still we weren't looking to go to fast as we were aiming for a collective worst marathon time which we smashed by 19 minutes! Woohoo! PWs all round! 

Further disappointment was with the medal and finishers t-shirt as although I really like the designs of both the medal is exactly the same as last year and the t-shirt is incredibly similar.

Spot the difference?
Minor moans aside the event is very well organised and incredibly well supported by the marshals, what a very enjoyable way to bring up marathon number 10 and a brilliant event to provide my temporary swansong from longer distances. I am very proud to be becoming a father for the first time in the next month or two so running will have to go on a bit of a back burner for the time being but I will be back!