The next morning we had a great breakfast and then got into Barney's Taxi. Unfortunately, Barney turned out to be a bit of a con artist and the meter was already up to £12 before we'd even arrived. In the end I got him to turn around and take us back, paid him £25 for taking us absolutely nowhere (!) and then drove into Durham and found free parking not far from the venue. Sigh. I arrived stressed and flustered with little time to spare, ditched my bag, got my number and headed to the start line. Meanwhile, Iz headed off into town to do some drawing. There was just time for a quick selfie:
We all set off together, and shortly came to the first bridge over the river. There was a tight right hand turn and then we continued on the other side of the river. I could still see people behind on the other bank, and rowers in the river. It was a cold and crisp day and perfect marathon weather.
After the bridge you ran alongside the river again - this was probably the prettiest section:
After that the route goes through some trees, then across a car park, then does a loop around a field before coming back into the start from the opposite direction. These pictures weren't all taken on the same loop which is why the weather keeps changing!
The interesting bit of this race was the 2 minute silence at 11am to honour people who have died in wars. Personally, I'm not a big fan of wars, but I understand it's important to those who've lost relatives so I always try to be respectful. The race was stopped at 11am by people blowing airhorns all around the course and we all stood still in silence for 2 minutes. Unfortunately the people playing rugby in the field behind that hedge didn't stop, so it was punctuated by their shouting. Oh well. It's the thought that counts, right?
The race organisers deducted 2 minutes from your eventual finish time to compensate you for the stop, which is kind of sweet but (in my case) totally unnecessary as I wasn't bothered about my time anyway.
The other thing the race organisers did was put posters up around the course with various facts and quotes about war. (Click on the photos to make them bigger)
These meant I spent quite a lot of time thinking about war during the race. It's pretty crazy how many people died in WW1, I mean I knew it was a lot but that's insane, especially compared to how many have died since*. I thought the quote was interesting, but discussing it later with Iz, she was unconvinced. "What if Hitler had just shot everyone else though? Then we'd all be under Hitler!" Good point, well made.
*I have not fact-checked these statistics and like all statistics, a lot depends on how they were gathered and whether they're comparable. I notice they don't quote their sources....
The race continued. I shed a layer of clothing (luckily my bag was very close to the race start), I went to the toilet (not at all close to the race start, costing me way more than 2 minutes), I ate snacks from the extremely well equipped snack table. It was a cupless event so you just left your cup on the table and when you arrived back at the start, you could fill your cup with any of the drinks provided. This worked really well and is a great way to cut down on plastic waste. I also met a woman at the drinks station who recognised my Penny Lane Striders top and said, "Are you from Liverpool? My brother in law is in your club!" Later I saw her husband running and he called out, "Go Penny Lane!" Aww!
I had only got a little way when I spotted Iz sitting on a bench by the river. I skidded to stop, gave her a hug and told her I had one loop left and that she could meet me at the finish line in 20 minutes. I set off with a spring in my step, and she later showed me this picture she took of me from the other side of the river. She said she could still clearly hear my music even when I was over there ... haha!