Race Date: Sunday 23rd April 2023
For the ninth year in a row I’d applied for the London Marathon ballot, and for the ninth time found myself in possession of an ill-fitting “you’re a massive loser” training top. I was equally unsuccessful in the Striders’ ballot for London in November. However, fellow Strider John Liddle, with whom I’d trained for our first marathon (Yorkshire, in October 2022), was successful in getting a club place at London, so we agreed to train together again as he prepared for London, and I’d try and find a suitable spring marathon to aim for.
For some reason I opted for the Curly’s Great British Seaside Marathon (all 27.3 miles of it) which took place on Saturday 25th March. The main draw for me was that fellow Striders Laura and Jemma, had also signed up for this event. However, just before Christmas, I received notification that my daughter, who had been awaiting major ankle surgery for two years, had finally reached the top of the waiting list, with her procedure booked in for 12th January . Knowing that this would entail a lot of upheaval, and eight-weeks of her being non weight-bearing (and therefore me being at her beck and call for that time!), I recognised I wouldn’t be able to commit properly to a marathon training programme, so I transferred my place to a friend, with a revised target of focusing on the Sheffield Half Marathon on 26th March instead (spoiler alert: I managed to get a course PB!).
As the weeks passed, whilst I found myself unable to put in the longer midweek miles my marathon training plan had stipulated, I was lucky enough to still be able to join John for quite a few of his Sunday long runs (thanks to the combination of ridiculously early starts; support from my husband Pete; and me absolutely underestimating my daughter’s grit, determination and independent streak, which meant she didn’t rely on my support anything like as much as I’d anticipated!). By the time we got to 16 miles, I realised I might have a marathon in me after all, and decided to try and find an event the same day as London, but keeping it “under my hat” in case things didn’t go to plan. My Google searches eventually led me to the Tissington Trail Marathon, which takes place in Ashbourne, so reasonably local.
Having followed my marathon training plan as best as I could for 16 weeks, and at the end of a week where everywhere I looked on social and other media was “London Marathon”, we pulled up on Sunday 23rd April at Ashbourne Leisure Centre, along with another 180 runners. We collected our numbers, used the luxury indoor loos, and wandered in a very relaxed manner through two tunnels to the start of the Tissington Trail. After a race briefing, we were off, taking in the gentle incline of the disused railway line up 13.1 miles to Parsley Hay, the halfway point and start of the (understandably more popular) Tissington Trail Half Marathon which takes place in autumn. Whilst the second half of the race was net downhill, I’m not sure we benefited hugely after having dragged ourselves all the way up in the first place!
As with all Nice Work events, the marathon was low-key, friendly, brilliantly organised, and notable for its excellent aid stations offering cola, water, jelly babies and jaffa cakes every 3-4 miles. Because of the low numbers it was naturally a bit lonely at times (in fact, the contrast with London couldn’t have been greater!) but this was eased somewhat for a couple of miles or so each way round the turnaround point, where we were able to smile at and encourage our fellow runners. I did take advantage of the aid stations to stop and chat a bit with the brilliant marshals and other competitors, and was a little disappointed that I had to stop and walk a few times. However, the nature of this event meant that slower runners like me were more than welcome; there was no official cut-off time, and plenty of other people were adopting run-walk strategies.
I’d absolutely recommend this marathon for any runner wanting to do something completely different from some of the mass participation city-centre events, as it offers a laid back yet still professional experience for runners of all abilities.
The marathon had 181 finishers. It was won by Simon Fawcett (unaffiliated) in 2:46:13. Jenny Laing from South Derbyshire Road Runners was first female in 3:19:51.
One Strider took part:
|Pos||Gun Time||Chip Time||Athlete||SurName||Team||Bib#||Category||CatPos||GenPos|
|116||04:47:38||04:47:23||Caroline||Brash||Steel City Striders||236||Female Vet 45||9||29|
Full results here: https://www.nice-work.org.uk/races/the-tissington-trail-marathon/2023