Brighton Marathon: never again

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By Ollie McAteer

MILE one: Nothing could have prepared me for the Brighton Marathon. Except, maybe, a bit more training.

But moral was high as we scuttled towards the start line ready to take on the 26.2 miles which lay ahead.

Mile 13: The first half was dominated by me and my Dame Vera Lynn fundraisers - the electric atmosphere of crowds in their thousands carrying us most of the way.

There was even talk of finishing around the three hour 30 minute mark. Then things turned ugly.

The course jolted off the seafront at mile 14 and bottle-necked runners into a hectic residential area of Hove, distant athletes appearing no different to the jelly babies and M&Ms handed out by supporters.

Mile 16: My humour failed and morale began to leak.

I’d had enough of eating things in gel-form, and the cruel spectators offering me a burger and a pint almost received a slap.

Mile 18: I’d been warned of ‘the wall’, but shrugged it off and put it down to dramatic runners wanting attention. How wrong I was. ‘The wall’ is very real. And it didn’t hit me so much as rugby tackle me to the ground, repeatedly beat my legs and rob me of any lasting motivation.

Mile 19: I lost my running partners, the crowd became thin, along with my patience. My finishing time no longer mattered.

Mile 20: St John’s Ambulance volunteers issuing dollops of Vaseline grew in number to the point where I seriously considered greasing up my entire body in a bid to glide through the course like a penguin.

Mile 21: Runners fell silent and dozens took to the pavement to stretch. The lack of audience allowed me to walk for the first time.

Mile 22: County Times sports editor Allan Norbury sprung past me with a smile on his face that said: ‘what marathon?’.

I picked up the pace once more and trotted behind him - hot on his heels for a good minute, before walking again.

But slowing down didn’t bring the relief you would imagine; my legs - now rigid metal poles - made walking painful, forcing me to compromise on an awkward half-walk-half-jog.

Mile 23: My running had been reduced to a flailing mess. My lungs were bursting and my head was pounding with an aggressive ache.

I stumbled on near to a bloke with Ollie written on his top so I could soak up the cheers of encouragement to his name and pretend it was me.

Mile 24: Still with 2.2 miles to go I could see the finish line, but that made nothing easier.

I felt dazed and confused as to why seemingly unhealthy looking people were storming past me.

Mile 26.2: I fell over the finish line after four hours and seventeen minutes. Allan finished a minute earlier, but the office gloating hasn’t been too bad.

Without a doubt it was the hardest physical challenge I’ve undertaken. And I will never, ever, run a marathon again. But the sense of achievement is fantastic, and, though it may sound contradictory, I would encourage everyone interested to take on the mammoth challenge.

Mile 28.2: The car was parked two miles away.

I would like to say a huge thank-you to all those who supported and sponsored us.

The total of nine runners raised a magnificent £5,636 for the trust based in Five Oaks, near Billingshurst, which helps children with Cerebral Palsy - a disability which can cause impaired muscle coordination amongst other complications.

The award-winning school is filled with a professional team who aim to teach parents and children daily living skills in a bid to spend more time at home together as a family.

But the school receive no statutory funding, and rely entirely on the support of the community to raise the £660,000 needed this year to ensure the vital service can continue.

Rosie Wyer, regional fundraiser at the Dame Vera Lynn Trust for Children with Cerebral Palsy, said: “The Trust are so grateful for all the training and dedication that was undertaken to achieve this magnificent challenge for the vital work carried out at the School for Parents.”

Good luck to everyone taking part in the London Marathon today!