After running in Rotorua and then in Greenland I had in mind to run the 6 foot track marathon. 6 foot track is an iconic trail event and one of those marathons where the entry opens and all spots are taken within five minutes. Not only that, runners had to qualify by running a road marathon in under 4:20. My PB for a marathon was well over five hours however I figured that I could cut a significant amount of time off my PB by entering a fast course and not walking (like in Rotorua) and running on bitumen and not snow (like in Greenland). My research told me that the two fastest courses anywhere near where I live were Gold Coast Airport marathon and Macleay River marathon (held in the little town of South West Rocks on the mid north NSW coast). Not a big fan of huge crowds and thinking about the logistics of getting the family to the event, I chose the three-hour road trip to South West Rocks. I’d previously run a half marathon there and knew the course, which helped with the decision as well.
My training for my first competitive marathon wasn’t overly good. My husband Craig had been my training partner since 2010 but hadn’t recovered at all well from Greenland in 2012. He had run the Canberra half in April 2013 although for the first time we had agreed prior to that race that I would skip ahead. Seeing the writing on the wall I had joined a local running club called Night Striders – a women-only group, but I hadn’t really done much running with them. About three weeks out from Macleay River I posted a question on the Night Striders Facebook page asking whether people thought I could still pull off a marathon despite less than ideal training, and the encouragement was immense – Yes, do it.
So I did. There were two other Night Striders at the start – Kirby and Lauren. We ran together for the first 15km at which time Lauren dropped off; and then Kirby and I ran together until about 24km when I dropped off. The next 8km were a struggle – my pace slowed and I began to suffer mentally. I knew though I had only to make it to 32km where Craig was meeting me with our children, and my son Alexander was going to run the next 5-10km with me.
Sure enough at 32km along came Craig. Alexander jumped out of the car and off we went together. I was still well on track for the sub 4:20 time, and Alexander provided excellent support, carrying my water belt and snacks. With 5km to go my daughter Emily also joined us, and the three of us ran toward the finish. As happens a lot when I run, the last kilometre was my fastest and I came across the finish line in around 4:12. I was thrilled.
Alexander had already run the 10km event (in 43:51 with no training!) and it was a massive ask for him to run another 10km when he’d never done the distance before!
Emily had run the 5km event with my youngest daughter Verity, and then did the last 5km on top of that.
Craig had also run a PB in the half, going under 1:50!
Everyone had a fantastic morning at the event. The club puts on a great day, with super organisation, prizes and refreshments. I’ve had two really positive races there.
Macleay River marathon was number 3.