On 12th September 2021 I took part in the Brighton Marathon. Brighton Marathon is one of the largest marathons the UK has to offer, with a beautiful seafront finish, and plenty of fantastic cheering points for spectators. This is the 5th time I have completed Brighton Marathon, but I have not ran it since 2017. This is the first time I have been an Official Pacer for Brighton Marathon, and because of covid this is the first marathon I have paced since Miami Marathon 2020. Today was my 89th time as an Official Pacer, 28th pacing a marathon, and my 88th qualifying event towards the 100 marathon club.
It wasn’t the most conventional warm ups for an event, with an action packed weekend. On Saturday I took part in the Kew Gardens 10k (check out review HERE) and the Richmond Sundown 5k (check out review HERE). I took these events as solid training runs rather than going all out, ensuring I had the energy for Brighton Marathon, as I would never do anything to risk my pacing.
We had a good group of pacers for the Brighton Marathon, and Jason and Pete joined me to lead the Sub 4 #funbus. I was fortunate to get a lift to the start from my wife, and I was there nice and early. There was a lot of waiting around as we went off by wave, but it seemed to flow, and there was a great atmosphere in the race village. It must be the largest event that has returned to the UK since covid. When it was our time to make our way to the start, we went out to find the blue wave and get into place.
It was a great feeling being at the start. As our group grew I stopped and gave everyone a race brief. Explaining how we would be pacing, providing information about the course, and just trying to motivate and build confidence in general. We had a large happy group, including lots of first time marathoners, lots of new Brighton Marathoners and many aiming for sub 4 for the first time.
Before long we were off, and I forgot about the huge hill at the beginning. But as always I explained we would run to effort up hills as it evens out going down hill. We were ticking off the miles nicely one by one. You spend the first few miles in the town centre before heading out to the seafront for the first time. It was a particularly hot day so I spent my time reminding people to take nutrition and take water at the water stations. Water was in cups so I encouraged people to slow down to ensure they took enough on.
At each mile marker we were within a few seconds, and I was really impressed at their accuracy. At mile 9 we were 22 seconds ahead of schedule, then suddenly mile 10 came in at 10:46. I initially thought it must have been a missed placed marker, but then the next couple came in the same 11:46, 12:46. I decided I would wait until half way, as I knew where the half way point should be, and it would be accurate. Unfortunately the half way point was the same. I knew then what the problem was. This wasn’t an issue of misplaced markers, and the course is accurate. What is a shame is someone had put the turnround point going out Rottingdean in the wrong place. I had thought that we didn’t usually go that far out but we did, and so did everyone else. Usually I tell runners that we could end up running an extra half a mile because of GPS or not taking the right line, but this was different. The Brighton Marathon was about 700 metres long.
At this point I went to go and chat with the other pacers. It was clear we were just over 3 minutes behind schedule, and we would definitely go long. But we are there to deliver sub 4, regardless of length of course, so I explained to all the runners around us that we would be picking up the pace by about 15 seconds a mile, and taking advantage of any down hills, in order to get us back on pace. This is far from ideal, and we did lose a few on the way who not run the slightly increased pace, but we had no choice. If we stayed at correct pace we would have been 3-4 minutes behind schedule.
We increased the speed, and I kept assuring everyone around us. Each mile I let everyone know what progress we had made. And as we crossed other pacers we exchanged and it was clear everyone realised the same thing. We read mile 21 around about the right pace, and then mile 22 just a few seconds ahead of pace like needed. This gave me the opportunity to slightly ease the pace to 9 min miles. It was such a shame that we lost some on the way, especially as the sub 4 pace, in real terms would have got runners a sub 3:56.
Nevertheless I knuckled down and delivered 3:59:44 on a tough warm day, running 26.77 miles, an extra half a mile because of the error at one turn point. It is worth noting that all the markers were in the right place, and if it wasn’t for this one error it was an absolutely fantastic day. We had a great crowd of runners from start to finish. The finish line was great, and the finishers tee and medal were good quality.
Well done to everyone who took part in the Brighton Marathon today, it was a great day. If you weren’t at Brighton today where were you running this weekend?