Sunday, 28 September 2014

Bath Two Tunnels Ultra

The inaugural Bath Two Tunnels is aptly named.  Within the first mile you enter the 408 metre long Devonshire Tunnel, all of it uphill.  Emerging from the dark and cool air back into the sunlit, woody path, we were almost immediately back underground, with the longer Combe Down tunnel.  Definitely an unusual start to a marathon, and with the 10km race leaders already heading back the other way through the tunnel.  After that, the route takes in a short road section with a couple of sneaky short hills before dropping onto the Kennet and Avon canal for a long, gradual loop back into Bath.

At first feeling quite remote, but steadily more people were enjoying the sunshine on the towpath as we headed closer to the city centre.  I was enjoying the run, going a bit faster than I thought was wise, but running with one or two others and wanting to push myself to keep with their pace.

The city centre went past in a bit of a blur - a few steps, a couple of zebra crossings with marshals stepping out to stop the traffic, then an out and back section to the weir, before dropping back onto the riverside path out of the city centre.

From here, we rejoined the old railway path for the best part of two miles uphill to the finish.  The first half dozen half-marathoners had passed, and I was surprised not to have seen more of them, having started only 15 minutes after me.  For me it was time to do it all again.  I ran all of lap two alongside a guy I had been running with for a few miles already.  We had a bit of a chat but were both working quite hard to maintain the pace and I was sure I would fade.  Perhaps it was the beetroot juice that I'd drunk for the previous day and a half, but I felt strong, fading just a little in the increasing heat.  As the remaining miles dropped away, I became increasingly confident of finishing sub-4, and witha strong uphill finish, ended on 3:50:25 for my 67th marathon.

An excellent event, lots of very supportive and friendly marshals.  The only grumble was the overly complicated start, which included everyone queuing to get through two narrow gates after a mile walk to the start line.  None of that seemed necessary for a race billed as 27.4 miles.  I'd have just had the start at the same location as the finish.  I'd definitely recommend this and other Relish Running events.

Bath Two Tunnels Marathon goodies
Socks and medal were waiting at the end of the uphill finish.