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23rd Dec2013

Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon 2013 Review – 22nd December 2013

by Simon Chapple

Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon 2013 Review

The weeks leading up to the Portsmouth Marathon 2013 had seen a lot of heavy rain, which meant runners were in for some tricky conditions as a large amount of the course is off-road and it can be pretty muddy even at the best of times.

The race starts from the Portsmouth Pyramids centre, I managed to park easily (£6.50) on the road outside and found my way inside to collect my race number and timing chip, after getting myself ready I joined the queue for the bag drop, this was pretty long and was getting bigger all the time, this was down to the fact it was only manned by one person, it needed at least two.


After the Portsmouth 2013 Marathon

The room was very crowded, most runners had decided to stay indoors until the last minute as it was pouring down with rain outside and I decided not to head out until I had to.

Outside there was a drumming band, who put on a great show, despite the horrible conditions.

Just before 9am everyone was out in the rain at the start area and ready to get going, thankfully around 10-15 minutes into the race, the rain stopped and for the majority of the marathon the sun actually came out and we had clear skies, this was a real blessing, the course throws enough at the runners, without having the added challenge of running in the rain to deal with.

The course starts off on the road, but quickly joins the coastal trail path, this is where the challenge really begins, the tracks had become very muddy and slippery and there were some big puddles along the way, parts of the course reminded me of the Grim (see my earlier post on this race), there was no chance of keeping dry feet and I decided the best strategy was to go straight through the puddles to avoid weaving around them.

This is a muddy course!

Some of the puddles were pretty deep, having done the Grim Blackout a couple of months ago, it served as good training for running with wet feet and soaking socks and trainers.

On top of the puddles was the slippery mud, regular running shoes couldn’t cope in some parts and there was a lot of slipping and sliding, I saw a couple of people go over, during a marathon distance, this is the last thing you need to contend with.

The conditions meant the chances of getting a personal best were pretty slim, this course is not one for PBs and I would also suggest avoiding it as a first marathon as it is not easy, although it is fairly flat.

One major niggle came around the 5 (ish) mile mark, where runners were made to wait for between 1-2 minutes due to a gate that would only allow one person through at a time and had to be opened and then closed before the next person could pass, this was really frustrating, the organisers should consider having this gate removed on race day for future events.

The course is a 13.1 mile run out and then back the same way, so at around the 10 mile mark I started to see the faster runners coming back towards me, this is a little demoralising, but when you turn the corner and you are facing the slower runners it gives a bit of a lift.

It isn’t a hugely scenic course and pretty much comprised of mud and puddles the whole way, with some brief breaks of road running. There is one section where the route takes you across a shingle beach, which is hard work and at one point, on the way back the tide had come in and runners had to wade through knee deep sea water, this wasn’t really what you wanted at the 21 mile mark!


Running in the sea at Portsmouth!Running through the sea!

The water stations were well stocked and had everything from mince pies to rum and wine, this was a nice festive touch from the organisers.

The last 3 miles or so are along the seafront and the wind was blowing hard, this is a real challenge and I saw a lot of people walking here, I had to grit my teeth, get my head down and work hard to keep going on this section.

Eventually the finish came into view and I crossed the line in 4 hours 19 minutes, which I was pretty happy with considering the challenges on the way, I had been told to add 15 minutes to a normal marathon time to take this into account.

Overall, this is a well organised event, it is a challenging course in a location renowned for wet and windy conditions, support along the way is pretty sparse and you will need to be mentally and physically prepared to get round in one piece.

The medal at the finish is really very nice and there were plenty of refreshments at the end, the goody bag wasn’t much to speak of.

Portsmouth Marathon 2013 Medal

Would I do it again, maybe…just maybe…

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