Blog by Jenni Morris

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Trailscape Marathon: Rail to Trail Series

This was marathon number 5 for me & the 1st of 2016. I booked it in as I wanted it as part of my build up for Canalathon at the end of March, which is all part of Race to the Stones training.

Usually before a marathon I do 22-22 miles about 2 weeks before as the final long run so I know I’m ready for it. This time my last long run was 3.5 weeks before the run as I was ill for most of the 2 weeks just before the marathon with an evil cold. I wasn’t sure I’d be good to run but I was happy when I felt better just in time & got a couple of short runs done in the few days before the marathon.

I did the Trailscape Half Marathon in February and have done a bit of trail running before but this was to be my first trail marathon. I got the usual pre-race nerves in the build up & was worried about what to wear, especially when on my way to the race it started snowing. I wore my rain jacket over a compression top as sleet was predicted all morning, with leggings & my trail Mizunos.


I started the run feeling quite happy- I was delighted that I’d made the start line after doubting it while I’d been ill. The marathon course was 2 laps. It was hilly & VERY muddy! I walked up the hills & in places was struggling to stay upright in the mud but was still enjoying myself. I was a bit worried about the half way point that had the option of stopping…but I was there for a marathon so I carried on & was happy to chat to the volunteers at the aid stations as for a lot of the course you’re on your own which I figured is great ultra training.


There were parts I really enjoyed but this was the hardest run I’d ever done. Especially on the 2nd lap the mud felt relentless. I couldn’t run for parts of it as I was struggling to stay upright. I had a watch on & the only time I looked at it was on the 1st loop to see if I was nearly half way (I was at 9 at the time which I was happy to see) but I didn’t look at it again. It snowed a few times during the run but I was happy with what I’d worn as I didn’t get too cold.


I asked one of the volunteers how far I had to go & when he said 2.5 miles I told him I loved him- I was quite happy to hear that. He said a check point was a mile away so I got to the last check point & they said it was actually 2.5 miles from there- I was just looking forward to getting to the end as I’d had enough of feeling like Bambi trying to stay upright at that point….only when I finished did I realise that was probably because I’d been out there so long. I fell over with about a mile to go & hurt my knee- I’m amazed I only went over the once.  When I was sat in the mud I did feel a bit sorry for myself but I had a great view from my muddy seat:


I got myself up to get to the finish. Once up that last hill I could run a bit more & then got on the road to the finish line- it was so nice to be able to run without struggling. I got to the finish line to the whoops & cheers of the lady there then I ran down the road & to the race HQ as I was happy to be able to run out of the mud.

I was given a print out of my time & I couldn’t believe how slow I’d been. I thought I was last & I just wanted to cry but I held it together & got myself changed & had a couple of bits of the lovely malt loaf that was there for the finishers. Most people had left by that point but I chatted with the people there & found out there was still one person out running- I know coming last doesn’t matter but I was so gutted at how tough I’d found it that was a comfort to me that I wasn’t miles behind everyone.

I felt rubbish about this marathon. My time was abysmal and I really struggled. It took a couple of days of reassurance from friends & family to sink in. I know time doesn’t matter – I am always telling people finishing is what is important & to be proud to finish but this run really knocked my confidence. I have a lot planned this year & I wondered how I’d complete an ultra after finding a marathon that tough. I knew I should be proud but I just couldn’t be….but now I am. I pulled myself together & with the help of other people I’ve realised that this run was tough- & I finished it! The conditions were terrible but I carried on. Although I was 55/56 marathon runners there were another 14 that stopped after the first loop because of the tough conditions plus I’d been ill in the build up. I think all that mud counts for some extra miles so it was great ultra training. I just hope I don’t run across conditions like that again in a race (pun inended J ).


I am now looking forward to doing another run soon with a bit less mud (make that a LOT less mud) as after that I feel a bit more invincible- if I can finish that I can do anything. I’ve learnt we get through the tough runs- but that makes us tougher. It may take a bit of time but focus on the lessons that can be learnt & positives that can be taken from it. I love my friends I’ve made through ukrunchat- their support is incredible & they’ve helped me be proud of that run. We get each other through tough times & that’s exactly what friends are for. If you’re worried or feel rubbish about a run tell some friends &/or get on #ukrunchat. The support is amazing & you’ll soon be full of pride and have a smile on your face.


And now I’ve recovered but I’m not sure my trainers ever will: