On 15/04/2018 I participated in the Brighton Marathon. My 4th marathon overall, 1st of 2018 and 1st in Brighton! After having the best day cheering at Brighton 2017 I signed up to the 2018 event almost a full year ago. I booked a hotel as soon as possible as I knew prices would be extortionate closer to the day.
Firstly, I will say I had a great weekend and this event surpassed all my expectations. One negative coming into the event is the fact you have to travel to Brighton on the Friday or Saturday to pick up your race number. The website states this is to take pressure off of their team – due to race packets getting lost in the post. LOL – also known as; they want you to come to Brighton a day early and spend more money.
Therefore on Saturday morning we travelled down to the expo. Beautiful sunny day, the expo is actually very well ran and organised. Great setting on the beach, there are plenty of different stalls and shops as well as all the charity tents, plenty of food, large screens and deck chairs alongside the number pick up. Another querk to Brighton is that you actually pick your wave when you collect your race number. You can pick any pen you want and it’s not based on previous times… strange!
After browsing round the expo and picking up some high5 electrolyte tabs I spent the rest of the day eating and resting before the big event.
Now as some of you know, I am also running the London marathon which happens to be just 7 sleeps after Brighton. After nursing a hip injury, I had been telling myself and others that I would take Brighton slowly and just run on feel.
However, easier said than done and I knew my competitive streak would come through. Feeling good on the Saturday evening I planned to set off at PB pace (3:20) but if any sign of injury then I’d immediately slow down as I want to make sure I can complete London.
My hotel was great but I still had a terribly restless night. I woke at 5:45 and watched TV until 7:30. After getting my kit on and packing up my bags, I walked towards McDonald’s for a not so conventional marathon breakfast (I did only have bagel & jam though 😬).
It was a fair walk to Preston park (all uphill) but I arrived with an hour to spare. Again the event village was very well organised, quick bag drop, plenty of toilets and well signed pens. The time flew by and all of a sudden it was 9:45 and time to run!
The crowds at Brighton are amazing! Very similar to Manchester as in there are a few quiet sections, but when you hit the big crowds the noise is immense and overwhelming. The first mile or so is a tough uphill start and I will say that Brighton is certainly not that flat! Especially the first 9 miles.
I was feeling great though – and 5km seemed to fly by, as did 10km. Another tough hill and out and back section in Hove at around mile 8-9 (I think) and then you have the long, down hill section back towards the pier. I knew I was going too quick at this point but it felt easy. The views are amazing, the downhill feels effortless and I was running with around 5 others for almost the first 12 miles.
And then the crash. 14 miles on, I suddenly felt horrible. I was exhausted, the legs felt heavy and I got that dull ache in my hip that’s been troubling me since February. This is also the worst part of the course. It’s a 4 mile out and back (miles 14-18) with very little to look at and at a point you could really do with some inspiration. I tried to dig deep but eventually on the turnaround point, still on for a 3:20 – 3:25 I decided to walk.
As you may be aware, Brighton use cups of water rather than bottles and it seems this year they really wanted to sell this to the entrants as to why they don’t use bottles – mainly due to wastage and hazards. I don’t buy it though and I still find it impossible to drink from cups. Yes they had stations at almost every mile but still it is impossible to take on anything significant whilst running at any speed.
So my first walk break was through a water station. I spent 15-18miles in a bit of a grump, giving up on a PB chance is hard and I even questioned why I was running another marathon 🤦🏻♂️. Eventually though I did come back around and knew it was the right decision to not push on and ruin London. So my new goal was to have fun and enjoy the last 8 miles. I would run to the water station, walk a minute or two and repeat. I’d speak to other runners struggling or the crowds and take on all the Percy pigs and haribos they had to offer!
It was great, the Brighton crowds were simply amazing as were the runners and the volunteers too. I was so impressed with the whole organisation of the event. The power station section was always in the back of my mind as I knew it had been the worst part of the race for many previous runners. I honestly thought it was fine though. Large crowds carried us through this section of the race and before long you’re back on the seafront and on the home straight.
I took this opportunity to use my GoPro quite a lot as well as taking in the atmosphere of the event. I knew I’d finish in a very reasonable time and was overall very pleased. Eventually I crossed the line in 3:35 – my second slowest marathon but one of my favourites.
There’s a little walk after the finish to collect your medal and goody bag (you collect your t-shirt the day before – strangely!). Then you walk back round into the expo and it’s a great spot to cheer on other runners or a place to meet friends and family.
It didn’t seem as hectic as last year either to cross the road or the bridge. I really do think they’ve taken on board feedback from previous years which is great to see.
I then had fish and chips… obvs, a few drinks and a quick dip of the feet in the sea before heading back to London.
As mentioned, I am really impressed with this event as a whole. I wasn’t too excited a few weeks ago but I would definitely recommend this marathon to anyone, although I still feel Manchester would be the perfect spring marathon for anyone chasing a PB.
On that basis as well as the cost, I think it ranks slightly lower than Manchester but it is definitely a great event and that seems to be improving year on year. Phenomenal crowds, beautiful course and very well executed by the teams and hundreds of volunteers.
Next up; London marathon 😆