Featured Race Report - Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes

 Sun Dec 11 2011, 05:20pm, 0 comments
It's been too long since our last featured race report so whilst we're approaching the shortest day of the year and the temperature is dropping, we bring to you a report to make you think of warmer surroundings. Our author is Baljit Chohan who only joined the club this year, but has had a great debut season and is establishing himself as one of the club's stars...

"The Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes, or rather more prosaically, Nice to Cannes Marathon. My third marathon of my first marathon year. 3:22:16 in Rotterdam where I learned the hard way that you really have to respect the distance and unfortunately that equals hard miles on the road. Thought I'd done that for Berlin and got to 3:00:05 but again clearly hadn't learned the lesson as I died in the last 4KM. Oh well there was always Rotterdam, Edinburgh and Berlin again in 2012 to go for sub-3 and Nice to Cannes would be good throwaway experience for that.

So 8 weeks to do the day that I'd lined up at the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin I found myself, with several dozen other male runners, on the Nice beach facing the Med and peeing into the sea with 15 minutes to go until the start. A picture post-card just crying out to be made.

The start was at 8 am which meant leaving my hotel at 7 after a breakfast of peanut butter on bread. It was still dark as I set off and approaching dawn when I got to bag drop off at 7:30. By 8am there was a beautiful red sun rising from the East towards Monaco. Very atmospheric.

As I pondered on the start line in the 3:15 pen I thought about aims - this was in the planning an end of year jolly with no real expectations. In that spirit I thought I'd experiment with fuelling and pace. I didn't bring my own hydration belt so wanted to use drink stops and (to convince myself post-Rotterdam I could) and wanted to run an even pace race. I did have 4 gels however on a Hilly armband.

So we start at 8 and there's no wind and we start from sea level - the first 5kms go by with a steady gradient but ultimately only a 17 ft gain in all. First drink stop and I'd read on a website that the way to drink from a cup whilst running is to pinch the top in the middle and drink from the 'lower' spout - worked an absolute treat and I used it every 5kms throughout the race. That and not rushing it so I got the drink but only drank it some 30 seconds after collection so I'd got back into my rhythm.

10km came at 42:54 (gun time which was about a minute off net time) and I felt pretty good - it was all pretty flat and getting warm up to 20km which I crossed in 1:29:52 (gun time) and crossed half marathon on my garmy at 1:29:46. Felt pretty good at that point and had kept the Runners World 3hr runner in sight all through the first half.

So the second half of the race - different! We had hit Antibes then and, well, its a headland and is hilly. We basically ran around the headland and so into and out of the wind as well. The elevation went from 9 feet at mile 15 to 113 feet at mile 17 and this into a headwind. At about this time I started to feel a bit of cramp in my left calf and the first drop outs were sitting at the side of the road. At 25km I took coke and dark chocolate at a drink stop just before the climb and luckily as we climbed 'I'll be your commander' by Kelly Rowland came on the iPod - what a tune to climb to! I've also been doing single leg squats over the past few months and now have buns of steel - I needed them!

We started to descend out of Antibes after 18.5 miles and that was great - gave my arms a stretch out on the descent and felt ok again. Except that from mile 20 it starts to undulate on the run in to Cannes as you go over flyovers/road bridges and we hit the headwind again.

Anyway it was now some 10kms to the finish and I was waiting to blow up as I'd done in Rotterdam and Berlin - I'd passed the Runners World 3hr runner at the last drinks stop and he hadn't passed me so I knew my pace was ok. At 30km I had a gel and at 35km took a quarter banana from a drinks stop. 7km to go and we were still going up and over bridges. At 37.5km I took my last gel and cracked on. At 40km the road levelled and I took another quarter banana. Passing lots of runners and walkers at this stage. Got to 42km and looked at my garmy 2:57 and knew I had sub-3 nailed - still felt good and sprinted the last 200 yards to finish in 2:57:53 net time (2:58:06 gun time). 286th overall and 137 in my category of V1. Get in

Post race caught the 11:26 back to Nice and was back in my hotel room cracking a half bottle of 25 Euro minibar champagne by 12:15!

So my first marathon year closes and I've achieved what was a dream at the start - a sub 3 hour marathon. Even better a sub 3 hour on the hardest course I'd run a marathon on all year! If I'd run that well in either Rotterdam or Berlin which are much flatter and were'nt as windy I'd have gone sub 2:55 for sure! I can only put it down to experience, upping the mileage and of course the fantastic help, support and advice of selfess clubbies who deserve a massive thank you."

Baljit's full race report can be found HERE and you can keep up with all his exploits in his DIARY on the forum.

This news item is from UKnetrunner.co.UK