Rosie Stancer is the embodiment of the idea that with self-belief, motivation and application, anyone can push themselves beyond their perceived limitations and achieve the extraordinary.
MARATHON OVER THE WILTSHIRE DOWNS & A LOT OF UPSMay 14th, 2012
The bank holiday rather snuck up on me and with it a long-established tradition of a bit of a house party with the Wimbles to take on the Neolithic Marathon that spans from the Avebury circle to Stonehenge.
They party, I run it. Although yes, both Wimbles and Mayhews (he, Charlie, of Tusk renown) take the Sarsen Walk in their stride with children in tow pushing out 12 miles. As ever its’ a bit scary when as a runner, I catch up with them on the downs and the son (10ish) and the youngest daughter (at 11) join in with me. Daughter 11yrs, worryingly sets a gazelle like effortless pace that would leave Bolt with flaring nostrils after the first hill. After a mile or so on careering along in her slipstream, she thankfully and dutifully legs it back to rejoin her family. Sensible girl. And my nostrils calm down and I can resume the pace that befits my seniority. Now that the race is over, I can confess that pre-event, try as I might to look cool and disinterested to my fellow house guests, I was a-flutter with butterflies.
No preparatory training, if you don’t count heavy weights phase in the gym and lots of protein shakes, and shoes I’d never run long distance in with very basic soles (sorry Saj the podiatrist), an exhaustive month of gearing up the expedition fund-raising drive and driving around the M25 in circles with family-bound duties to respond to. Why the excuses? Isn’t it true that you should add 45 mins onto a x-country marathon as opposed to urban?
The Neolithic Marathon is one category of the Sarsen Walk (in aid of the Wiltshire Wildlife Fund). It’s deliciously small, like 300+ people running it, although the 2,000 odd walkers make for ongoing obstacles to be dodged which is done in ready enough humour until the end section of the marathon when one is more tempted to shout ‘passing’ with no frills attached, as any little deviation of even a foot or so is a deviation too far.
A continual movie screen of breathtaking views over the downs, it has a refreshingly relaxed feeling about it (non of this urban elbowing) – like you could stop and sniff the flowers if you dare, I wouldn’t, for fear that I wouldn’t start up again.
I started at a rather stately pace which would have seen one trampled on in an urban event, generally maintained steady pace, bar the uphills, which I love accelerating up, before going tortoise downhill. The mid phase went on and on forever, just like on the arctic expedition, then once I clocked the 20 mile marker, I pressed turbo and screeched through the last 6 miles, only stopping at the very end before the line to have a wardrobe faff and get my Mars badge in evidence, arriving beside Stonehenge in 4 hrs 1 min 55 secs. Annoyingly and not a little strangely, precisely the same as 2 years ago. Lost 2 whole minutes on a wardrobe moment. Wondered whether I really shouldn’t have tried a bit harder and struck out at that end pace for longer. It was very exhilarating for 6 miles, but can’t kid myself that I wouldn’t be able to do that for the whole hog.
As Alan Pearson my trainer tends to remind me a little too often, ‘I’m no sprinter’. Thank you Alan. Mind you, perhaps it was the promise of a massage at the finishing line. Boy I had a good massage too, free from a student from Greece who knew his onions and bunions and stretched me out again until I felt I had regained the millimetres lost (yes you shrink after a marathon as the spine compresses!) I need every millimetre I have at 5’3”. Still, I think I can walk tall after that little effort. And to think that as Fiennes said, travelling over the arctic ice is like running 3 marathons a day. I would chuck in a couple of boxing rounds, long jump, athletics and a return ticket to swim the channel on a bad day.
And a round of applause to….
The Wimble’s parents who seem to take on their traditional role of corralling me into the starting boxes with enough bustle to ensure no loss of nerves, are there to scoop up what’s left at the end. And to Cindy and Andrew for pandering to this marathon diva’s every pre-run whim…no can’t eat this lamb, can I have pasta not these potatoes, can’t wash up got to go to bed, yes I need lots of red wine for iron…Left them feeling smug on bank holiday Monday, wonder why they looked rather weary…. and young Miss Mayhew for getting my pace up (briefly).
Same time next year? Hopefully I’ll just be thinking of you all, Wimbles and Mayhews on the rolling green Wiltshire downs, with those glorious views and the sound of skylarks above.
I’ll be somewhere pushing out the miles very, very slowly, no green to be seen nor skylarks darting above, just the sound of grinding ice, aching cold, a chafing harness and no turbo button, nor massage at the end of the day. But I’ll be walking tall.
All the way to the Pole.