The Spring of 2018 saw 20 Elswick Harriers featuring in six marathons spread over three continents.
We begin in Tokyo on 25 February. Hardly spring like conditions in Tokyo at this time of year, but great news for Brits who are used to training in harsh winter conditions. The temperature on race day was 4 degrees with a light icy breeze, but the course is flat and perfectly smooth – not a single pothole – a revelation for our two Elswick runners Mike Russell and Andrea Banner. Mike finished in 3.24 and Andrea in 3.16, leaving them both with one more marathon (Boston) to complete the series of six Marathon Majors.
Next up was Boston, the original city road marathon, on Monday 16 April. Our sole Elswick representative was Richard Houghton who braved the torrential rain and wind. If you get a chance to watch the footage, you will be amazed to see how the African athletes struggled in the wet and cold conditions, trying to race in rain jackets which only served to create drag and hinder their progress. They dropped out of the race one by one, leaving a hardy Japanese athlete to be the surprise victor. Richard said it was the most difficult race, physically and mentally. Having to wait around for a couple of hours before the race on a soaking field was not an ideal way to start. However, Richard overcame the hurdles in his way to finish in an impressive 3.06.18. No way near his best time, but with good reason. He now aims to c
And if that wasn’t enough for Richard, six days later on Sunday 22 April, he was lining up at the start of the London Marathon, swapping his thermal and waterproof gear for factor 50 sun lotion. It was the hottest London Marathon on record, with temperatures reaching 24 degrees. Great news for the spectators, but horrendous for the runners. Our posse of ten Elswick Harriers all felt the impact of the unusually high temperatures, particularly as there is very little shade on the course, but they all did admirably without anyone having to drop out. Our finishers were Jason Old 3.07.52, Mark Turnbull 3.12.24, Andrea Banner 3.19.24, Richard Houghton 3.21.26, Rob Emson 3.40.56, Dave Jardin 3.43.01, Elspeth Aspinall 3.56.34, Debbie Spoor 3.58.34, Robert Lambert 4.32.44 and Joanna Bond 5.18.13.
On the same day, Mandy Kennon completed her very first marathon in Blackpool where by complete contrast to London, the conditions were wet and cool. There was a scandal in the women’s race owing to two or three of the top female finishers actually being men who had taken their friend’s or partner’s race numbers. As a consequence, the female award presentation was abandoned – a real shame for the genuine high ranking females. But for our Mandy, there was a personal victory in comfortably completing her first attempt at the 26.2 mile distance, finishing in 5.01.41. Here she is – all smiles.
Next to Liverpool and the Rock’n’Roll Marathon on Sunday 20 May. Elswick had a team of three doing the full marathon and a couple of supporters who ran the half marathon before taking up their spectating duties. Simon Lynch, the marathon training co-ordinator for the Bunnies, continues to get better and better and went well under four hours, finishing in 3.51.28. Tina McIver and Kay Thompson ran side by side finishing in 4.57.26. It was Kay’s first marathon and Tina’s second. They both clearly loved the experience and the atmosphere in Liverpool, and reported that the support from the two half marathoners Dave Jardin and Leanne Hymer undoubtedly spurred them on. The celebrations continued into the night on the dance floor of the Cavern Club.
Teamwork from Tina and Kay:
Sunny scene on Liverpool’s Pier Head with Simon , Tina, Kay, Leanne and Dave.
Finally, a trip up north to Edinburgh on Sunday 27 May. Four marathoners and two half marathon runners. First home was Simon McEnaney in 3.26.04, second Michael Clegg in 3.55.37, third Amy Lauren completing her first ever marathon in 4.23.30 and last, but by no means least Christiane James in 4.57.13, an almost identical time to our other female over 60 marathoner Tina (in Liverpool). Here’s Christiane on the scenic Edinburgh route.
Well done to one and all. Looking forward to hearing about the next tranche of marathon adventures.