Wrapping up 2018 with a marathon

Portsmouth Coastal Marathon review

The roster of marathon events in December in the UK is predictably sparse.

But, if you look around hard enough, you can uncover a gem of an event.

Step forward, Portsmouth Coastal Marathon 2018. The full 26.2 mile route and accompanying relay race has become a pre-Christmas running fixture and treat for many runners in the South.

I was looking to wrap up the calendar year with a run-out over the marathon distance and the timing of this race (Sunday, December 23rd) was just perfect.

And the eighth edition of the now annual haunt from South Parade Pier in Southsea to the end of the Hayling Billy Line and back, taking in scenic views of Langstone Harbour, did not disappoint.

Over 900 runners participated in the marathon and some 119 pairs in the relay, going to show the popularity growth for the coastal event now in its eighth year.

Heavy rain the night before the race and in truth throughout much of December, made conditions tricky under foot on the day.

As the race’s name suggests, the marathon was predominantly run on small, narrow coastal paths and felt like a bit of a cross-country run but with extra wind.

Puddles and mud complimented the fully multi-terrain route and it was a struggle at times to maintain my footing. As such, it meant I had to retire my trusty Under Armour HOVR Sonic’s after the marathon!

Given the conditions, I wasn’t hunting a PB but rather a solid race finish around the three-hour mark. That said, I was keen to run the first-half hard and see how I felt. And I felt good physically, even though I slipped at mile five.

I was well aware the return leg would be more challenging given the route had been well worn by thousands of footsteps, with the second lap mimicking the first but in reverse.

As such, I took my foot off the gas for the remaining 13.1 miles but did lose much of the zip I had hoped to maintain. The last stretch – on the even surface of Southsea’s Eastney Esplanade – was more gruelling than I anticipated but I was content enough to finish within the top 20 runners on the day.

Overall, I have to say the event organisation – from the race expo to marshalling – was excellent and I’ll be back for another crack! The medal wasn’t too shabby, either!

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