You’d have to be a pretty supreme, finely tuned endurance specialist to be running three marathons in three consecutive weeks. Well, either that or you’d have to be slightly bonkers. Which of the two Heather Khoshnevis is, you can draw your own conclusions. She ventured over to South Wales to take on the first race of her marathon treble, the ABP Newport Wales Marathon.
Newport is one of Europe’s flattest marathons, making it an ideal one for first timers as well as for PB hunters. Heather certainly didn’t fall into the novice category though. In fact, she was more of a seasoned pro, this being her 148th marathon. That meant she certainly had plenty of experience under her belt, or perhaps not under her belt, since she refuses to wear one, even to keep energy gels in! She hates carrying anything when she runs so unconventionally tends to rely on the aid stations to get her through.
The course is a single loop route starting and finishing on the riverfront, taking the participants on the journey that will see them pass landmarks such as the city’s Transporter Bridge, the University of South Wales and the bustling Friars Walk shopping centre. The stunning scenery around the Gwent Levels, with its coastal wildlife and picturesque medieval villages is also not be missed.
Unless you’re Heather of course, who famously doesn’t notice anything when she’s running a marathon! It’s probably because she’s so focused on the job in hand though that she doesn’t tend to take in much of her surroundings. She just relies on others who also ran the race to tell her about it afterwards!
Hopefully she didn’t miss the carnival atmosphere around the village square when heading through Magor in Monmouthshire, as that is thought to be one of the highlights of the route.
The flat nature of the course seems to translate to a good level of performance, with an amazing 70% of finishers in the history of the race registering a personal best!
It wasn’t meant to be just Heather doing the Newport Marathon. Her Bournemouth AC teammate Debbie Lennon was supposed to be joining her as well. Debbie had been training quite well for it and had been putting in some very good long runs. Unfortunately though, in the weeks leading up to the race she had a couple of occasions where she had a nasty fall whilst out on a training run.
The first time was when she was on holiday in Mauritius and she fell on some gravel and cut her knees and hands. The second time she was out for a 22 mile run and had done almost 18 miles when she hit the desk very hard, smashing up her face in the process. It transpired that she’d actually passed out whilst running, hence why she didn’t put her hands out when falling.
That made it much more of a worry and as a result, she needed to get herself examined before going out and risking doing any more damage. That then in turn curtailed her hopes of running the Newport Marathon, even though she wanted to do it so badly. In the end she had to concede though that it was not be and she had to put her safety as the first priority.
Starting off quite quickly, Heather went through the first 5k in 23 minutes which put her in 353rd place. She then went on to reach the 10k checkpoint in 47:15 which put her in 390th. Hitting the 10 mile point in 1:17:25, she had now dropped down to 455th position. It was still a good pace though from Heather at that stage.
Reaching the half way point in 1:41:49, she was now in 487th place. If she could keep that pace going over the second half of the race she would be on for a mightily impressive time.
Her speed did begin in tail off a bit after that though and she got to the 15 mile point in 1:58:46 before reaching the 21 mile checkpoint in 2 hours 50 minutes. She was now down in 582nd position but she was still way ahead of the 3:30 pacer. The faster paced miles took its toll on Heather though and at 22 miles her legs started feeling heavy and her left foot was getting sore. That may have been down to the surfaces being quite hard and a bit uneven in places.
Reaching the 23rd mile in 3:08:33, she had fallen to 827th in the rankings but she was still going and that was what really mattered. Although she lost a lot of time in the last four miles, it felt good for Heather to know that she could keep that sub 3:30 pace going for 21 miles. Her lack of fuelling during the race may have also head a bearing as well, since all she had had was two jelly snakes throughout the entire run!
Arriving at the finish line in 3:41:08, Heather came in 571st in a field of 1,738 runners and was 57th lady out of 459. In the F60-64 category, she’d done well to take 2nd place so that was a good achievement. It was her fastest marathon since North Dorset in May last year.
Mair Chivers who took the F60-64 crown was less than a minute-and-a-half ahead of Heather. She crossed the line in 3:39:46 which put her in 522nd place overall and made her 54th placed woman.
The race was won by Dan Nash of Cardiff Athletics in a time of 2:19:46. His nearest rival was Adam Bowden of Bridgend AC who got round in 2:20:31. Simon Nott of Calne Running Club tied up third place in a time of 2:24:40.
Out of the women in the race, it was Lizzie Diamond of Lilswerry Runners who shone brightest, clocking a time of 2:49:36. That put her 42nd overall.
Melissah Gibson of Ealing Eagles flew round in 2:53:40 to come in as 2nd female and 60th overall in a time of 2:53:40. Megan Williams of Aderdare Valley was 3rd lady, getting round in 3:00:19 which put her 118th overall.
Rich Brawn’s brother Dave lives near Newport now and he was also in action at the ABP Newport Marathon. It was only his second ever marathon, with the first one being many many years ago, so it felt very much like a new experience for him. He paced his splits really well up until the 20 mile point but began to find it tough going over the last 10k.
Completing the course in a time of 3:19:55, it was a still a very good time from Dave despite struggling towards the end and he will have plenty of learnings to take with him into the next one.
Heather didn’t have long, of course, to take her learnings into the next one. She was back in action at the London Marathon the following weekend, so needed to hope that her legs could recover quite quickly in order to be able to do it all again! Then, the weekend after that, she would be taking to the start line in the North Dorset Village Marathon. What an absolute machine!