Report from Jonathan Norton on the 59th Isle of Wight Marathon, October 11th 2015


Here’s a report on last Sunday’s marathon from a participants view point, namely our Vet 70 record-breaker Jonathan Norton!

I do not think that any of the runners taking part in this year’s marathon, could have asked for more perfect conditions than we all experienced during the 26 and a bit, mile race on Sunday. (I think that this goes too for all the many race marshals ,water station, and sponge station volunteers around the course).

11.30am saw the mass start from the Cowes Social Club grounds, with plenty of spectators on hand to see us off. I believe that I was somewhere in the middle of the pack as we turned onto the main road and headed first towards Gurnard, then a gradual climb out into the country and Porchfield, some five miles ahead.

We were a pretty close bunch at that point, but by the time we reached Porchfield and the first water station, we were pretty strung out. Once I had got into a comfortable running mode and settled down to a pace of about 8.40, the next few miles to Shalfleet were not too arduous, not withstanding the occasional hill that opened up before the runners en-route (they would be there on the way back from Freshwater as well!!! You have been warned!).

I seemed to fall in with one or two of the police runners on this part of the route but am pleased to say, I didn’t have my’collar felt’ by them and in the true spirit of an ‘old lag’, managed to make good my escape by slowly drawing away from them, finally shaking the last one off by the time I reached the Causeway leading across the marshes (the old railway line from Newport to Freshwater).

One of the nice things about this ‘new’ course are the many changes of scenery along the route taking the monotony out of the head down, pounding feet syndrome I find counter productive to a good run.

I was quite surprised to see, as I am sure were other runners, many onlookers around the route, more than last year I think, probably due to the very fine day we were experiencing unlike last year’s weather.

I was still feeling good at the half way point thanks to all the sponge and water stations of which I took full advantage. Pace was still good, being a little over the 8.60 mark, so I felt that I might at least equal my time for last year and bearing in mind that there was another vet 70 in the race, who came (according to Steve Lee) with a bit of a pedigree in past Isle of Wight Marathons, so I was always conscious that I could loose my vet 70 course record from last year!

However, towards the latter part of the course around the 22/23 mile mark, (things were beginning to get a bit hazy by that stage) I could feel my pace slowing and was now running at just on the 9.00 pace. Not good!! And of course this coincided with those pesky hills we all ran up and down so blithly on the way out….I did warn you…

Having left Porchfield behind and the now closed Sportsmans Rest pub, (damn!) I won’t say that I quite put the ‘pedal to the metal’, but realized that if I didn’t do something soon I would have Ana, our ‘tail-end charlie’, passing me on the way back to Cowes and the finish!

The last 2/3 miles from the bottom of Northwood to the finish at Cowes Social Club were not my finest hour speed-wise as I was now into the 9.20 pace according to my Tom Tom, however, thanks to a bit of a ‘wake-up call’ from a couple of Isle of Wight Road Runners (no names, no numbers) who passed me going up the final hill to the main road, I managed to dig in passing first one then the other at the top.

From there it was a straight dash (I use the term in it’s very loosest sense) to the finish some 1200 metres ahead and making a sharp right at the ‘Roundhouse’, I legged it to the final run in and finished just ahead of my almost nemesis, in the strip of IWRR.

To my complete amazement, I was not the first one to arrive ‘home’, as there seem to be dozens of athletes there already changed and waiting to go home! However, I did notice that my overall time was a little bit quicker than last year so I was hopeful that I had retained my course record for vet 70, which proved to be the case.

One final note as I was swallowing cup after cup of orange juice there was a lady runner, by the name of Mary (’cause I asked her), who came to the drinks table saying those immortal words ‘NEVER AGAIN’. I said to her ‘Oh yes, you say that now, as we all did after completing our first marathon (it was for her) but in about three weeks time you will think to yourself, well that wasn’t so bad and sign up for the next one’. I am looking forward to the London next year and quite possibly the 60th running Isle of Wight Marathon in October 2016.

Oh, the brave sound of a distant drum!