Aaron McGrath – Wootton Bridge Runners Co-Ordinator:
Wootton Bridge Runners, known locally as WBR, had a run away success at the 62nd Isle of Wight Marathon. An early morning with heavy rain and the knowledge that the medals (bling) wouldn’t be available at the finish line, didn’t dampen the spirits of the 7 eager runners, who had all trained their minds and bodies ready for this big day. As part of a social running group, the team was made up of affiliated club members from the Ryde Harriers and unaffiliated runners from across the island. Some were running for charities very close to their hearts, some were running for fun whilst also trying to knock minutes off their personal best (PB) and some where running a marathon for the first time!
WBR supporters were there at the start, along the route and at the finish, to encourage and support their fellow runners around this testing course, often referred to as one of the toughest marathons. The WBR team wishes to thank the race organisers and the wonderful marshals who gave up their time to stand in the cold and wet to cheer, clap and encourage the runners to keep going all the way to the finish line.
Gary Marshall surprised everyone by leading the race from start to finish and winning in an amazing time of 2:58:06. This was Gary’s first marathon and first proper race. He was running and raising funds for Mountbatten and Help for Heroes, with the secret goal of finishing under 3 hours.
Graeme Wood finished in 9th place in 3:18:14, smashing his PB by 19 minutes. He was running for ChILD (Children on the Island Living with Diabetes). Graeme’s youngest daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the start of the year, the amazing help and support from ChILD and the St Mary’s Hospital diabetes team inspired him to run the marathon for them, as he wanted to give something back and help them continue the fabulous work they do in supporting island families.
Ryde Harrier Graham Gardner finished in 32nd place in 3:42:34, knocking 12 minutes off his time from last year. His goal was to improve over last year and is already working on where he can improve for next year. Having now completed his 6th marathon, he is always learning how to best train and run them. Being a local marathon that is run by his running club, is such a special event for him, due to its location, history and many friends from the island running community that come out to support everyone.
Ryde Harrier Sarah Smith and Wootton Bridge Runner Richard Oxford finished within seconds of each other in 56th place 4:07:40 and 57th place 4:07:42 respectively. The running duo have trained together and recently also completed the New Forest marathon. They ran this, their 2nd marathon together and supported each other the whole way.
Talisha (Tillie) Moore and Deborah Ledicott both also completed their first marathon. Tillie was in 108th place 4:54:18 and was running for the Isle of Wight Cats Protection. Deborah was in 121st place 5:23:58 and was running to complete her personal goal, as she had always wanted to run the Isle of Wight marathon. Both ladies trained together and achieved together. With the support and encouragement from their amazing friends and families.
Sarah Smith (Ryde Harrier and WBR member):
I woke up Sunday morning to hear the rain thundering down and my first thought was I’m going to need my flippers and arm bands for this marathon! Arriving at the race HQ the talk was predominantly on the weather. Whilst we deliberated on what clothes to wear – rain jackets? Hats? The monsoons actually subsided and things started to look more positive. My last marathon, the New Forest in September, had been mainly on gravel tracks and so, as the race began, I immediately found it so much easier running on the smooth tarmac. I didn’t expect to complete this one faster than the New Forest as I had heard how ‘lumpy’ it was to say the least! Also, I’d done a fair bit of speed/hill training recently but I hadn’t really done any long runs lately so I felt like I was ‘winging it’ a bit for this race. I took up running in sept 2017 and have completed a 10km race, three half marathons and three full marathons so far (if you count running Walk the Wight!) Anyway, myself and my running buddy (Richard Oxford from WBR) set off aiming to stay around a 10 min/mile. About five miles in i realised we were running around 8.5-9 min/miles and thought oops better slow down or risk burning out but feeling strong we decided to push on as the pace was comfortable and we both felt good. The first few miles were really hilly. I know that I slow up a lot on the ups so made a big effort to make up the time on the descents. I was surprised at how quickly the miles were passing and before i knew it we were half way. It was such a great route with fantastic views, it would have been impossible to get bored. Around 16/17 miles I felt my legs tiring and my pace dropping. As we started to approach Cowes again the huge rolling hills returned. My legs, shoulders and back were all starting to ache, I couldn’t stomach any more sugary gels or jelly babies; it was getting tough. However, so many friendly faces at the marshals stations kept us all motivated and the support from fellow Ryde Harriers was amazing! The loud whoops and cheers from all my running friends put a huge smile on my face and kept me going.
Then, at the end, came the ‘Palance Road run up’, the segment we’d all been dreading. I decided to just try and smash it out as quickly as I could. I wasn’t going to walk this late in the game. I won’t lie, it was an absolute killer after 25 miles of running. My legs were cramping as I reached the top but I knew it was just a short flat half mile or so to the finish line. Such an exciting atmosphere at the finish line too, with friendly faces, cheers from supporters and hugs from fellow runners. I finished in chip time 4:07:40 and was 6th female and 2nd in my age category, which I was over the moon with as I really hadn’t expected to come in anywhere close to that on such a hilly course. I was even more blown away to discover that a friend from my Wootton Bridge Runners had won the marathon!
It was an amazing day and I’ll definitely be running it again in 2019!
Gary Marshall (Winner and WBR member):
“Well today turned out pretty well to say the least. I achieved my goal of running a sub 3 hour marathon on the first attempt on one of the toughest courses the country has to throw at us and in turn came over the finish line in 1st place to take the title for the 2018 IW Marathon. Who’d have thought it? Not me!
Huge thanks go out to my wonderful family who have allowed me to train for many hours, going to the lengths of cooking me separate meals towards the end of the journey to ensure I was in the best shape possible, on the plus side, they had the car a lot as I just ran and cycled everywhere!
Thank you to my brother PJ, your help and expertise throughout the process was totally invaluable and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without you, this would not have happened, you are a massive part of this achievement, take a bow sir.
A big thank you to everyone who came and shouted kind words of encouragement from family and friends to complete strangers, it certainly helps keep your spirits high.
Thank you to all involved with WBR, you are all totally fabulous and have taken me in as one of your own.
Big thanks to everyone who has sponsored me, your generosity has had me biting my gums with emotion. I’m well on my way to raising over £300 for Help for Heroes and Mountbatten, 2 charities which are very close to my heart.
Lastly, I would like to say that although I crossed the line in first place, every single person who ran was a winner. The running community here is full of incredibly inspirational people, amazing achievements all round, you all won your own race so be mighty proud of yourselves, that was very tough.”
Ryde Harrier, Sean Furmidge, ran 13 and cycled 13 miles of the marathon in honour of his friend Darren (from the ‘Always with D’ Facebook page) who sadly passed away. Sean has Type 1 Diabetes (as did Darren) so faced his own challenges on the day. He successfully completed though and carries on raising awareness of T1 Diabetes.
Isle of Wight Road Runner Steve Hickman completed his 150th marathon.