Providing a vibrant and colourful atmosphere that very few cities can boast to the extent that Brighton can, the most popular marathon on the south coast was back with a bang.
That meant over 7,000 runners would be pouring out onto the streets of Brighton to embark on a journey which would lead them past all the sights and delights that the seaside resort has to offer.
There wouldn’t be any time for ice creams and donkey rides though. There was some serious racing to be done and time was of the essence if the runners would be to achieve what they were hoping to.
Amongst those pounding the pavements of Brighton that day were two Bournemouth AC members in the shape of Mitch Griffiths and Jayne Wade.
Having lost his running mojo a bit during lockdown, Mitch had booked it in as a target to get him going again. He knew he was nowhere near PB shape though due the lack of motivation and a recurring Achilles injury.
As for Jayne, she’d already ran the Brighton Marathon four times so it was not new to her. She had found that each occasion had brought something completely different though so she had no idea what to expect this time round.
The course for the Brighton Marathon starts at Preston Park and snakes its way through the city centre and out onto the seafront before finishing at the iconic Madeira Drive in front of vast crowds.
Starting off with a 7:26 for the first mile, Mitch then settled into a pace that he found comfortable for the next six miles, which was just over 7 minutes per mile.
Then a group came through who were going at sub three hour marathon pace and he decided to latch onto them for a free ride.
He ran with them for the next 9 miles until they dropped out 17 miles. It turned out they were only doing a 17 mile training run.
At that point, Mitch knew he’d overcooked it but he really enjoyed doing the sub three pace. Mitch backed off a bit after that and settled back into a easier pace for the last ten miles or so.
He ran out of steam a bit over the last few miles but managed to see it out, crossing the line in a time of 3 hours 12 minutes and 42 seconds. That put him in 175th place overall out of 7,232 finishers and he was 39th in the M30-34 division.
The conditions didn’t really help him on the day as it was quite hot and neither did the fact that the course was 568 metres longer than it should have been. This was due to a human error when laying out the cones.
That was at around the 10 mile point and after that, the watch and the mile markers were between 0.3 and 0.5 miles out which was quite demoralising.
Jayne started off pretty well and felt very good for the first half of the race. Then at around the 18 mile point she got cramp and had to walk some of the way which she’d never had to do before.
After what seemed like 100 gels later, her legs came back to life and she made it to the finish, clocking a time of 5:08:34. That put her in 5,081st place and out of the 2,315 women in the race, she was 1,281st. In the F 55-59 division she came in 35th out of 88.
Her best time if 4 hours 35 minutes so she was quite a way off but given the cramp issues she suffered, it was no surprise. Plus the heat and the additional distance did her no favours either.
The race was won by Neil McClements of Tonbridge in an impressive time of 2:33:44. That was enough to narrowly fend off the challenge of Ollie Garrod of Surbiton who was 2nd in 2:34:01. Then it was Mark Innocenti of Tring taking 3rd in 2:35:45.
The prize for 1st female went to Verity Hopkins of Ashurst Wood who produced a stunning time of 2:52:11 to come in in 15th place overall.
That put her way ahead of her nearest rival who was Amy Harris of Mannings Heath. She got to the line in 3:04:27 which put her in 87th place overall. Lauren Reid of Bristol was 3rd female, finishing in 134th place in a time of 3:09:31.
Without the extra distance, Mitch would have probably finished in under 3 hours 10 minutes which is where he thought he was in all honesty so it wasn’t a bad run at all from him.
More importantly, it’s given him the motivation to get stuck into his running again once he’s head a week or so of rest. That means he should hopefully be starting his journey back to full fitness in the near future.
Jayne showed great character, along with grit and determination to see it through despite the cramp issue she suffered. That was very commendable from her and if she can carry that same attitude into forthcoming races, she’ll do just fine.