It’s become something of a Christmas tradition for Stu Nicholas to be present for the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon. And lately he’s developed a bit of a winning habit as well, delivering a joint victory last year alongside Rob Fryer when they decided to run together and blitzed it in 2:39:46.
In the 2019 one he very nearly won it, making up five minutes on the leader over the second half of the race to get to within 30 seconds of him. He also claimed victory in the 2017 edition, so it’s understandable been a real favourite of Stu’s over recent times.
It had been a good year for Stu, registering a new PB of 2:37:31 in the Brighton Marathon in the Spring before going on to win the North Dorset Village Marathon a few weeks later. He also won the Phoenix Squid Circle Run earlier in the year which as a trail marathon. In September he picked up the win in the Solent Half Marathon which was one of the Hampshire Road Race League fixtures as well.
After the year he’d had, Stu’s confidence was flying high and he went out hard in the 2022 serving of the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon. Going at sub six minute mile pace for the first 5k, he then took it up a notch, going at around 5:50 pace for his next 5k. For the next 10k he did most of his mile splits at between 5:50 and 6 minutes per mile.
That took him to the half way point in an incredibly speedy 1:14:33. At that stage he was up with the leader Harry Carter but it was an out and back route and at the turning point, Harry began to pull away from Stu.
A few miles later Stu got overtaken by Mike Liddell of Royal Navy AC and at around 16.5 miles Stu’s pace started to drop a bit and he began so suffer after the fast start he’d made.
For miles 18, 19 and 20 he was down to around 6:20 pace but he was able to reclaim 2nd place after Mike hit the wall. The last 10k was a real grind for Stu and he had to dig deep to keep going and keep the pace as high as he could.
At the 23 mile point they saw a runner receiving medical attention but as there was a half marathon going on as well, both Stu and Mike assumed it was a half marathon runner. It turned out that it was Harry though, who had been leading the marathon. He had collapsed and was unable to continue. That meant that without knowing it, Stu had taken pole position.
For most of the last 10k, Stu had been going at around 6:40 pace but he’d managed to stay ahead of Mike and went across the finish line in a time of 2:42:20, still thinking at this point that he’d finished 2nd.
Mike reached the line 23 seconds later, getting round in 2:42:43, thinking that he was 3rd. It was only later on that Stu got in touch with the race director who confirmed that it was in fact the race leader who had been receiving treatment.
That meant that without even realising it, Stu had actually won the race. His main concern though was for whether Harry was okay. Fortunately he was, which came as a relief to all parties.
It wasn’t perhaps the way he would have wanted to have won it but it was still a tremendous result for Stu and a third time on the top step of the podium in the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon.
Tom Adams finished 3rd in a time of 2:52:47, with only seven runners managing to get in in under three hours.
Clare Meraz of Great Western Runners was 1st female, crossing the line in 3:08:31. That put her in 13th place overall. She was in the 40-49 age bracket
Dawn Godwin of Maidenhead AC was 2nd female, completing the course in 3:15:14, which put her in 25th place overall. She was in the 50-59 age bracket
Anna Smith-James came in as 3rd lady in 3:17:37, putting her in 28th place overall. She was in the 30-39 age group.
A total of 542 runners successfully completed the race, with the last of them getting in 6 hours 47 minutes.
Stu’s wife Anna took part in the Half Marathon race and she was aiming to get round in under 1 hour 45 minutes. Clocking a time of 1:44:40, she accomplished her goal and that made her 12th female and 61st in the overall standings out of 388.
It was a great way to end the year for Stu and the icing on the cake of what has been an outstanding season for him with an incredible 28 parkrun first places to compliment his various race successes. No doubt there will be plenty more running royalties in store for Stu in 2023.