Race Report 3rd July – ST MAGNUS MARATHON ORKNEY
The route follows that associated with the journey undertaken by his followers after the martydom of the Viking, Earl Magnus to the ancient Christ’s Kirk in Birsay.
Morning of the race, I get up nice and early, do the usual check kit, have a good breakfast, shower, running kit on, and off we go.
It takes around 40 minutes to reach Kirkwall by car from South Ronaldsay.
Registration is at the back of the Kirk, and I meet up with running buddies. William Sichel who is a legend in Orkney as an Ultra runner was there. Whilst chatting to a friend a guy from Pudsey came over as he noticed me wearing my Blackburn Road runners vest, he told me he had run over 100 marathons, gulp , I have done some but nowhere near that amount, “erm so I think
The weather looks nice, glad I put the factor 50 on, as I only look at the sun and burn. I still take a waterproof, and I am so glad I did, because we had full compliment of Orkney’s weather climate, sun, rain, wind.
Now as some of you know I love hilly courses, and this is hilly , it’s described as wonderful coastal scenery, with challenging gradient changes in the early stages and gentle gradient latterly, and it does not disappoint..
The start was a perfect start, right on time and the atmosphere great. We head out and I settled into a comfortable pace, chatting to people.
Soon enough the climbing started but the views where fantastic. It was really warm so I was pleased I had put the sun cream on, I reach the first water station, so I quickly get a drink, drinking out of cups whilst running I can’t seem to get the hang of, so I stop and walk and do this at every water station, I had taken my go pro with me to capture bits of the race, in-between showers.
The miles pass by, passing fields with cotton plants, buttercups, cattle and amazing sea views and also see a hen harrier , and historic sites.
We had amazing weather over the last couple of months but today Orkney shows us, one minute it can be lovely sunshine, then next a good old downpour with wind blowing different formations of clouds every couple of minutes making the running a little more difficult.
From around 11 mile I started to get an ach in my buttock and down my leg, but it does not stop me. i give myself a good lecture and say don’t be soft and get on with it.The route is not traffic free, mind you roads in Orkney are quiet. People pull along and shout encouragement and one of our group Morag who had to pull out .a few weeks before due to injury drives past beeping and smiling, this spurs me on, it was a lovely surprise to see her. As we near the end of the marathon we head off road for a short section, then I turn a corner and hear the cheering of encouragement . the organiser shouts everyone’s name as they come in. We get handed our medal and again congratulated , goody bag which is a cotton bag with t-shirt, bottle of beer, oatcakes, fudge, mars bar, keyring, badge, fruit. I then head into the hall and there was music being played by local musicians, which was lovely, and if running a marathon wasn’t enough , there was a celieuh in the evening.
Do not expect to run a PB but it is PB in views, PB in atmosphere,
Liona Riding ( now residing in The Orkneys)