ABP Southampton Marathon/Half/10k



The races were held on Sunday 23rd April, with the marathon / half marathons starting at 9am and the 10k/5k at 10am and the mile races for the kids in the afternoon. Rather than listen to my ramblings of the day / race, thought would let other runners talk about their experiences and good to get an insight on the different distances. Dean Lucas will give an insight on the marathon, Vicky Couzens with a write-up on the half and Sarah-Jane Coe a summary of her 10k experience. No write-up on the 5k but I did love that yellow t-shirt they were handing out for completing that distance.


DEAN LUCAS

I got asked by Andy to do a race report from a Marathon perspective and I thought about it and as race courses go it’s pretty unspectacular but lots more hills than you think (or remember) But I thought about it some more and thought there were a few things that sum up the character of the club and its members doing this distance.

Let me start by saying that I like ABP – its not super expensive, has 4 distances and a kids run you get a decent medal and t-shirt, marshals and volunteers I thought were fantastic and the crowd support outstanding (more on that later) and there were plenty of water stops and aid stations.

Lap 1 was pretty standard, mixed in with the half runners you were always with good company. Over the bridge once, round Woolston, over the bridge again, through the home of football and up to the common before missing the finish to start lap two…. Lap two was tough – you knew what hills you had to do again, the crowd thinned out and the temperature got a little bit warmer. The 4 runners we had all fared differently – Sam peeled off halfway due to injury (but still a cracking half time, well done and there will be more), myself – I struggled with cramp from mile 22 meaning the last 4 miles took an hour, Teresa – PB, fully deserved and one a real superstar and finally Neil – who was a proper decent bloke by helping his neighbour complete his dream of finishing a marathon.



As I said – a few things stood out – TRC having so many people stay and cheer on every last marathon runner to complete the course (the drink helped), the grit and determination of Sam to finish the half, the massive achievement of a PB for Teresa in difficult conditions and circumstances, the legend of Lee – he covered a full marathon himself on the day to go back and help Teresa during the harder miles of the marathon, the good deed done by Neil – putting others before yourself to help them achieve a life goal. Oh… and a few good waves for the camera from myself ;o) So ABP Marathon – we completed it mate.


VICKY COUZENS

Well what a day, lots of Totton runners turned up to do our hometown big event which was lovely to see! I have done the event every year it has been on, and it was my first half marathon so I will continue to keep returning for another go. Each year the course has changed a bit as they’ve tweaked it, sometimes making it better but sometimes worse! I set off from home nice and early to walk to the start in time for our obligatory pre-race team photo (running past home in Woolston means getting the car in or out of the car park is impossible so walking is far easier and is a nice warm up!). It was a lovely bright day but with a cool breeze, pretty perfect race conditions I decided. I was dreading the usual long portaloo queues, particularly as last year I ended up running in to the start pen as the race started. A brain wave came over me as we got to Nero and Becky wanted to grab a coffee...ooooh we are customers, you have a toilet, it has no queue! So pre-race toilet stop was sorted with no drama, result, this was going to be a good event!


I spotted the sea of blue in front of the Guildhall and enjoyed absorbing the pre race chatter and photo taking. Photo done, number on (centrally placed on my vest of course!), time to bag drop. This again was a painless experience, happy days.



So in to the start pen we all headed to gather in the large crowd like crazy shoppers flocking at a Next Boxing Day sale. I settled with starting near the back of the mass with Alison, Jeanette, Neil and his friend Steve. Jeanette was doing her first half marathon with the company of Alison, not an easy course for a first half but a good one! We discussed photo posing plans whilst waiting for the start gun then we were eventually on our way. It was a slow start and Neil and I practiced our Dean photo pose for the first camera we saw! Mine certainly needs some work, but it is a work in progress. The course took us down the high street, through Houndwell Park and then to the Itchen Bridge, which I used to hate but now I live right by it have grown to dislike less! Through Woolston, along Weston Shore and then back over the bridge of doom (where a friendly chap who was running his 21st marathon gave me advice on what part of the road to run on) we went before heading down to St Marys. Then to the Northam Bridge and towards Bitterne, a stretch of the race which for me always feel like a long slog. I’m not sure why, less supporters maybe?


We entered Riverside Park, gaining a nice little bit of momentum down the slope in to the park, where families were enjoying the sun and likely thinking we were all a load of nutters running along when we could also be relaxing! I spotted an ice cream van and wondered if any of the runners would stop for a mid race ice cream. Likely if Neil and Millie had been with me we would have been those ice cream eating runners! Later on looking at the race photos I saw that indeed a runner had stopped to purchase some cool creamy goodness in a cone and was continuing the race whilst consuming it, well done Mr!


I exited the park and wanted to take a little walk break, but remembered the advice given at the training weekend the week before and decided I knew there was a steep incline coming up very soon so I would allow myself a walk break there, then there was the joyous incline of Burgess Road, also another excuse for a walk! On we continued through Highfield where residents were out banging their pots and pans and one amazing lady had a garden hose for us to run through, very grateful for that cool misting.


The final leg of the race took us through The Common, which I've always quite appreciated to get some shade from the sun at this point. I’ve previously started to flag and hit a wall at this point, but this year was different. Instead I was trotting along still smiling having listened to those telling me to relax when I run, that advice really did make for a more enjoyable race. I ran with my Garmin (still can’t not have it recorded!) but made a conscious effort to not look at it and obsess over it. What a difference that made, I ran the course far better than any other year and got a second best half marathon time! Exiting The Common I saw Lindsay who was there waiting to cheer us on, thank you that gave me a boost to get me down The Avenue! The end was so very close, so I dug deep and one foot in front of the other made my way to the finishing line, where I did an obligatory sprint finish (caught on camera by Emily) and all thoughts of posing for photos went out of the window. On seeing the photo I was very confused by the lady in the background running away from the finish line, I discovered she had run someone who was struggling in to the finish then turned around to go out on her second lap as she was doing the marathon. I was greeted by Becky and George before leaving the finish pen, where I spent some time getting my breath back and George joined me to collect my post race goodies where people genuinely thought he had completed the course too! I collected my bag and rested a little before starting to walk home (via another trip to Nero for food and coffee of course), and I was on a post race high! Walking past West Quay a lady from Lush appeared in front of me with a big bowl full of tubs of foot cream which she was giving away to any runners she could spot, a lovely surprise. We cheered all of the runners on as we followed some of the route, then as we exited Itchen Bridge we spotted Neil and Steve about to get on so I ran back up the steps to cheer them and take a photo. That was my last bit of energy for the day used up!


All in all it was a fantastic day and I will most definitely be returning in 2023.


SARAH-JANE COE

Since joining the club lots of members have told me about the great vibe of this race, the local support, general race comradery and the positive turnout from the club. I had always intended to enter, initially I was going to do the half marathon and try to follow (or pester) Brian or one of the faster guys around the route albeit very likely unsuccessfully – but a girls gotta have goals huh?


However, with my sister joining the club and wanting to participate in her first race, we decided to tackle the 10k together and I agreed to pace her around the race. I mean, having personally taken part in my first ever 10k 4 weeks earlier at Eastleigh, and having just figured out how the fancy pacer on my garmin worked; alongside being her only running sister, I was obviously fully qualified for the job. Granted her options were limited but I guess she concluded that I would suffice. Nonetheless I took my pacing job very seriously and had even set out on a strategy run a couple of days earlier in anticipation of her very likely enthusiastic mile 2&3, and to practice the pace – I also needed to make sure I wasn’t going to die midrace having just recovered from covid – but I think the strategy run bit sounds better.


We arrived at the meet point and in true Coe sister style were late for the initial photos, because we had to collect our numbers from the race village, which was really vibrant with lots of stands, people mingling and music. It made it all suddenly feel very real, it also had a very tame festival feel to it and anything like that makes me happy, even if I am about to exert all my energy into physically and mentally demanding exercise…


Upon our return Captain Andy gathered the remaining troops together for another photo and, as I had done at Eastleigh, I followed Eamonn (and now also Andy) around the block for a warm up and pep talk. I also introduced Laura to the exciting race toilet lines.


We made our way to the start line with Millie and Veronica, said our farewells, and wished them good luck as we all crossed the chip line and started at our own paces. As planned, we kept mile 1 nice and slow and warmed up into the race. The support and cheering from the spectators was just as had been described and we lapped it up. It was also gloriously warm which is always my preference, even when dripping with sweat and running… Laura I soon learnt, not so much. We approached the notorious Itchen bridge at 3k and 6k. I had ‘kindly’ not even told Laura that the Itchen bridge existed in the route so she was obviously pleasantly surprised, especially when she learnt we got to go over it twice. It was fun though, there were drummers, children cheering you on and the odd ‘why’ stare. As we approached the last quarter of the race Laura really started to show her mental strength. She was determined, and if I told her we had to step it up, she did and just got on with it albeit mentally cursing me, especially when I emphasised breath control and repeated “if you can breathe you can run” or “if it goes up it means we get to go down.” After the race she lovingly clarified that “if you can breathe you can also whack someone in the face.”


I thought the course was really nice; I saw parts of Southampton I didn’t even know existed, we also got to run around the stadium and through the town. In fact, I thought it was a pretty, albeit generally uphill route which highlighted Southampton. The event itself was really well organised, I was so impressed that there were 3 other races going on at the same time and at no point (surprisingly) did I get confused. Although, I did nearly join the marathon route but was quickly and thankfully redirected by one of the marshals.




We were cheered through the finish line and on the approach, I made sure to pass on Helen’s wisdom given to me at Eastleigh to swing your arms – it really does work! Laura’s goal of a sub 1hr was achieved in, drum roll please…. 58.52. She did amazingly well and really does deserve some credit as she ran through calf cramp, heat and me in her ear. We collected our medal and t-shirt and again that part of the event was very well organised with lanes for each distance. I also want to highlight that not only did I get a banana I also got the CHOICE of a snack, what with me being one of those annoying people with lots dietaries I usually just get fobbed of with just fruit but incredibly Southampton ABP is in touch with the modern dairy free vegetarian, woohoo to that!


Just as a finishing note our end of race entertainment came from Eamonn who we kept running into on the hunt for his keys which seemed to have been passed around to every member of the club going. I think it is sure to say we will be back next year to represent TRC!


Now back to me, really great insight to a few runners mindset above. I will mention some other noticeable performances on this weekend. There was a marathon PB for Teresa Dodkin, half marathon PB's - Jeanette Hiscocks, Sarah Whatley, Kirk Jenkins, Rob Kendall, Luke Mills and Elizabeth White. 10k PB's for Laura-Hannah Coe (as mentioned above), Scott Baxendale-White and Caroline Orchard (who was paced/pushed by Eamonn all the way). Awesome stuff well done!, particular as its not the easiest/flattest course, and weather could have been kinder. Please find results below from each distance:




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