Not the best of days today. A DNF for both of us at the Halstead Marathon. But not the worst of days either!

First the not so good stuff

Back to last weekend and Richmond parkrun. Cam had got a tick bite having removed her shoes after the run. Unfortunately the deer-ticks in the park can carry Lyme disease so as a precaution our GP prescribed a course of antibiotics. Cam had run at the beginning of the week at Milton Keynes with no problem but since then the bite had become more sore and inflamed. During the week we were unsure if she would run on Sunday but after dressing the wound on the morning of race she decided that she would be ok to run again.

As usual these days, soon after the start of the race Cam disappeared ahead of me but I wasn’t completely surprised to see her standing at the aid station at 15 miles having decided to go no further. I was a bit alarmed, however, when I found out that it wasn’t because her foot was hurting but that she felt sick, dizzy and very cold. Most of us were finding it quite warm in the sun. A car was on its way to pick her up so I returned to race HQ with her. Back at the leisure centre the medics determined that she did not have a fever and we later decided that it was probably an adverse reaction to the antibiotics that caused the symptoms. Hopefully nothing more.

The medics and race officials were all very efficient and helpful dealing with the situation and we were soon on our way home rather earlier than expected. We would like to add that neither of us would run if we were taking antibiotics for an infection but as these were just precautionary we thought that it would be ok. As soon as things didn’t seem right Cam stopped running. The following day she was feeling much better.

The race itself

The day had started well – it was the 25th anniversary of this club event put on by Halstead Road Runners – and a perfect day for running. We have completed this marathon before some years ago but had forgotten how lovely it was. Taking place on small country roads in a surprisingly attractive part of Essex, the countryside was looking glorious in the morning sunshine. It is not a flat marathon but the undulations are very runnable and make for an interesting and surprisingly fast course. It is also a really popular event with the members of the 100 marathon club and it was really good to catch up with some people who we hadn’t seen for a while at the start.

As well as being an attractive route, the organisation of the marathon was excellent. Based at the Halstead Leisure Centre, runners had an indoor area in which to change, leave their bags and even have a post-race shower and massage. Very reasonably priced tea, coffee and sandwiches were available there too. (A big thank you to Mr and Mrs Bridges for buying us a very welcome cup of tea when we turned up at the end without any money!). A particularly welcome touch during the race was that runners could arrange in advance to leave their own drinks and gels at up to three aid stations – as you passed some of them more than once it meant that you could have access to your preferred nutrition throughout most of the race without having to carry it. Marshals even had the pre-labelled drinks out ready as individual runners approached.

The course was very well marshalled throughout and support en route was lively in the areas where this was possible. The special anniversary medal and t-shirt looked really good. It is worth noting that Halstead is a small running club with fewer than 100 members. All the help on the day (and in the organisation of the race) is provided by volunteers and the profits from the race go to charity. We both agree that this is an excellent marathon and we were sad to hear that its future is uncertain as the current race director is stepping down after 25 years service. Well done Keith for what you have achieved over the years with this event. We hope that someone will now take it over as we need to return next year – we have unfinished business with the Halstead Marathon.