Marathon Series: The Sanlam Bristol to Bath Marathon

Wednesday 4 November 2015 by

Bristol to Bath Marathon, Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, Marathon, Running, Fitness, #HoBFitness

Welcome back to week forty of my Marathon Series, as I blog my way to a marathon – from beginner to 26.2 miles. This week, we’re talking about the Sanlam Bristol + Bath Marathon.

In the final contribution to my Marathon Series, I am reviewing the Sanlam Bristol + Bath Marathon. This is the marathon I chose to be my first (and potential only) marathon for a few reasons. Firstly, I went to university in Bath so it’s a familiar part of the country, and really beautiful. Secondly, it was the first year the marathon was happening, so I couldn’t resist being one of the first to run the course. And lastly? I’m a masochist.

The race started on Prince Street in Bristol. This is a beautiful part of town just by the river. We staying the night before in the Marriott (hugely recommend, as they even left us good luck baskets of fruit and protein shakes!) which was a fifteen minute walk away. Everyone gathered in the square beforehand, which had toilets and lorries to take any bags racers left across the finish line (genius idea). They even had Fitness First on hand to do the warm up.

There were about 6,500 people running the race, and as we decided to take it slow, we started near the back with the 5-hour pacers. It took 13 minutes for us to even get to the official start line! But then we were off, and there was nothing between us and the finish line but 26.2 miles.

The race took us out along the Avon Gorge, right under the Clifton Suspension Bridge. If you think that’s pretty spectacular – try running it on a crystal clear Autumn day, surrounded by all the colours of the season. It was perfect. There were even drummers a few miles in to keep us motivated!

The 5-hour pacers (I don’t know their names and I hope they read this because they were brilliant) were on top form – their pace was faultless, and they even had a phone with a speaker for some motivational music (I won’t judge too much, but they need to have Beyoncé next time!) After about 7 miles though, we began to pick up our pace.

Throughout the race, there were lots of smiles on the faces of the runners, and loads of people cheering on from the pavement. Considering it went right through the city and out across the Bath road, the race organisers had shut the roads, which made things so much easier. We had the Foo Fighters blared out from a church, a random bunch of teenagers serenading us through the industrial estate, and lots of Jelly Babies being offered out.

The route itself was great. There were some boring moments (the industrial estate being one), but for the most part, it was picturesque and easy to follow. The water and energy stations were well-manned and not crowded, and perfectly spaced. The organisation that went in to this race was incredible – and any organisers reading this, a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart!

But then mile 20 came. Mile 20 was the big hill, and trust me – it hurts. It’s brutal, even with relatively low temperatures, to run up a steep hill in the sunshine, but having done 19 miles before, it seemed to be an even greater punishment. And it was pretty much hills all the way in to Bath (cruel, huh?)

The final two miles were the most familiar to me – we were running in to Bath, and I knew we were close to the end. Unfortunately, we had to run around the whole one-way system before the end came! Bath is a beautiful city, and although I could appreciate it a little, my favourite part was when the lady on the corner of Queen Square promised me it was 400 metres to go!

Then it was the final matter of running those 400 metres up on to the Royal Avenue, and finishing right in front of the Royal Crescent. What a perfect finishing point! You’ll already know from last week’s post my feeling of crossing the finish line… but what I missed telling you was that the best cup of tea I’ve ever tasted was from a vendor right there in front of the Crescent. The finish was filled with food, drink and a massage tent, with music blaring out.

Bristol to Bath Marathon, Running, Fitness, Medal, #HoBFitness

From the faultless organisation on the route, to the picture-perfect finish, I really can’t praise the organisers highly enough (they have great taste in medals, too). It was a real honour to be a part of the inaugural Sanlam Bristol + Bath Marathon, and – despite the hills – I highly recommend it. The pre-registration for the 2016 race is already open if it takes your fancy. The area really is stunning, and it’s so well organised that it makes running your first marathon a dream… well. Almost.

With a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me for the race and a heartfelt thanks to the organisers of the marathon, all it leaves me to say at the end of my Marathon Series is a big thank you to my dad, who ran every step of the way with me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Marathon Series, but never fear, I’ll be back with more fitness posts! And don’t forget – if you want to join in and talk about your favourite sport or fitness routine, just get in touch.

Have you done a marathon recently? Which one and what did you think?

Don’t forget to let me know how you’re getting on, using the hashtag #HoBFitness. And check back in a soon when we’re reviewing the Spotify running app!

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