I deliberately allowed the two to ease ahead of me, but never get out of sight. As we tackled the first minor climb of the day I noted one runner ahead was already walking. Obviously this was to save his energy for the later stages rather than for tiredness, but for me it was a clear indication I would catch and beat him.
I caught him on the first major climb, up onto the Cumbrian Way from Lonscale farm. At this stage the race leader was a minute or so in front of me as I caught glimpses of him as we contoured Lonscale fell to the Gale rd carpark behind Latrigg.
Descending Latrigg for the first of four times I took it very easy as the gradient is such that feet can be shredded in no time. A time check at the finish said I was 45 seconds behind. Lap two, and again it was on the severe climb of Lonscale fell where I caught the leader who was walking. Though I was not moving fast I was running not walking.
To my mind, walking is admitting the route is tougher than me.
It is a tough route, no doubt, but it's not as tough as Steve Angus
Entering the HQ for the second time I had covered about 14 or 15 miles. This is a key stage in any marathon, it's where a trained athlete should be able to lift the effort to take him to 20 miles still on target and at a decent pace. So I tried to blitz this third lap, especially as it was a mile shorter, and with Latrigg instead of Lonscale to tackle, much less climbing than the previous laps had been.
Being in the lead meant I now knew nothing of any other competitors. I imagined somebody might be bearing down on me at an alarming rate. I pushed on into the final lap. As I coasted along the flat section to Threlkeld I could tell I was tiring, but I also knew I was still moving very well. The final time over Latriggs shoulder featured some tiny cramps beginning, but stretching out once onto the downhill all was forgotten in that respect.
The last couple of miles down the already familiar Latrigg walkers path to Spooneygreen Lane were savoured. As I turned left onto Brundholme Road I suddenly realised that in a few short minutes I was going to win the race. I'd realised a few miles earlier that I was probably going to win it, then, a little later, almost certainly going to win it. But now, now I was on the very verge of finishing, of actually winning, of crossing the line and breaking the tape, of setting the course record..... And I got a bit choked up if I'm honest. A lump formed in my throat and a tear filled my eye, I was going to win a marathon. Again.
|Don't forget to smile steve|
The final few metres I recomposed myself and acted up a bit for the (somewhat sparse) crowd. I did the aeroplane coming into land thing (arms outstretched to side waist bent alternatively left then right), I did the one finger in the air (indicating numero uno - not screw you) and punched the air one handed as I broke the tape. Yeah, I know that was all a bit OTT but gimme a break - at 43 how many more marathons am I likely to win?
Stay tuned for Part Three "so how come you won a marathon Steve when you couldn't get beyond 10 miles in London?"
And also Part One " I didn't even realise you were doing a summer marathon"