Famed for their spectacular medal designs, Phoenix Running pull all the stops out each year to conjure up something truly special and enticing. The aim is to produce a medal that will stand out amongst all the others on the rack.
In 2018 they had the Explorer, which featured the world’s largest finisher’s medal. In 2019 they had the Golden Phoenix and the Silver Phoenix which were 3D and arguably their best medals ever. Then in 2020 they had medals for the Almighty with the God of Thunder and the Wrath of Poseidon.
In 2021 they continued the tradition of pushing the boundaries of medal production with the Medusa!! And the Medusa might just have been their finest medal yet, which is quite a statement.
One man on the lookout for something bang tidy to add to his bling collection was Bournemouth AC‘s very own marathon maestro Stu Nicholas. Stu has already reached 50 marathon mark after completing 14 of them in 2018 to achieve his target.
He’s also done a couple of 100 kilometre ultra marathons as well, the last of which he did a few months back in the Roseland August Trail Plague. He didn’t have his best of runs that day and the weather was atrocious but he showed great character to get through it regardless.
On the weekend of Phoenix Running’s Medusa, Stu wasn’t look for an easy passage to get hold of the medals. He was going to really earn them by running back to back marathons on the Saturday and the Sunday.
This wasn’t something that was completely alien to him. He had done back to back marathons before, and in fact, had even won them both before. He did that at the Winter Enigma at Caldecotte Lake in Milton Keynes. Running back to back marathons was still a task that was never going to be easy, no matter what the experience or skill level.
The races were conducted on a 3.28 mile out and back route along the River Thames. The first one was the Silver Gorgon, where the medal was presented in an antique silver finish. Stu was going along pretty well at just under 7 minutes per mile for the majority of the race.
However, a dodgy lasagne the previous evening left him with some stomach difficulties on the way round. That meant taking an emergency pitstop during the run but he kept going well and did his best to push on through.
The culminated in him completing the marathon in a time of 3 hours 7 minutes and 47 seconds with an average pace of 7:10 minutes per mile, despite the stoppage. That was enough to give him an emphatic win, with his nearest rivals taking almost an hour longer to complete the marathon distance.
It was an excellent win for Stu but at that point the job was only half done. He had to turn up the following day and do it all over again. This time it was the Golden Gorgon – which would earn him a medal in an antique gold/brass finish.
The question was, could his legs hack it after the previous day’s exploits?… There was only one way to find out!!
Taking it a bit easier for the first four miles, he seemed to get into his stride after that and from that point on his pacing was strong and consistent. Getting through most of the miles at between 7 and 7:15 pace, he was going very well.
At least this time he didn’t require any Imodium either and his stomach remained in tact for the duration. Other than his legs being sore he wasn’t feeling any ill effects from the previous day’s marathon.
Finishing in a time of 3 hours 12 minutes and 5 seconds, it was another fantastic performance from Stu. Again, there was no one else in the field who was able to challenge his supremacy. The second placed runner, Robert Mole, dug in well to complete the distance in 3:38:48 but he was over 26 minutes behind Stu.
That meant Stu had done the double and won both marathons back to back, which was quite some achievement. Even though it wasn’t a high standard of competition, by doing the two races back to back Stu had certainly found a way to challenge himself and well and truly earn the massive medals he received as a result.
He probably won’t mind if he doesn’t run along that stretch of the River Thames again for quite some time though!