Unfinished business was the order of the day as Ian Russell returned to the Queen Elizabeth Park in Petersfield for the Midnight Marathon. Who could forget last year’s memorable outing with Ian getting massively lost and having to get a taxi back to the finish line.
Alongside best running buddies Dan Williams and Michael Coultrup, Ian made the journey across the water to revisit this race.
Starting at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, this out and back follows the South Downs Way. The runners had to follow the existing public signs for the ancient trail, easy to do in daylight, but tricky in darkness.
The 9pm start gave the troublesome triplets half an hour of daylight before it dipped below the horizon and the real test started. After the first few initial miles around the country park the course then led our tenacious trio on to the the chalky climbs on the South Downs Way, nearly 4000ft of ascent before them.
“The conditions were perfect” Michael tells me “It really set us up for a good run”
They all started off well, making the most of the flatter section before beginning the ascent on to the ancient ridges.
“I took a gamble and pushed on from the start” said Dan
He found himself up in 3rd place where he stayed for the majority of the race.
Heading toward Buriton, Ditcham and South Harting, they reached the halfway turning point at Cocking for the return on this out and back. It was here that Michael took a tumble. But he dusted himself off and continued on his way.
He wasn’t the only one to lose his footing as Dan also managed to fall at around the 18 mile mark tweaking his hip. But that turned out to be the last of his worries as an attack of runners belly struck
“I came over all hot and queezy” Dan tells me “I couldn’t regain my pace after that”
He finished a cracking 9th overall in 3.54.51, giving him 3rd V40. Michael was next across the finish line in 4.11.26 and 21st place and 3rd V50
“I ran without my watch” said Mick “I wanted to run to feel which made for a really pleasant night. The company of my 2 fellow marathon goons made for a brilliant vibe”
Not far behind him was Ian in 4.18.59 and 33rd overall.
“I still had Snowdon in my legs which slowed me down near the end, but I didn’t get lost this time so I’m happy”
The triumphant three did so well they managed to bag the second place team position.