Friday, June 5, 2009

Trek Marathon, Margam Park, UK

Margam Park Castle

Sunday was a totally different story. Since I am not eligible for the British National Marathon Champs, and we had to catch a ferry and I thought maybe I should take it a little easier, I decided to go for the fun half marathon option, 2 laps of 22km. I was feeling in much better form than yesterday and was looking forward to an "easy" race (all the good racers would do the Marathon Champs) without any pressure. I had absolutely no race nerves for it and even went for a last bathroom trip about 2min before the group of about 260 people riding the half marathon was set off, while Ryan was more concerned about me getting a good start position than I!

Thousands at the start line for the marathon.

So I didn't have the greatest start position, but was able to work my way forwards quite quickly. I wasn't aware of any female competition in my race that I could have a battle with, so I decided to overtake as many men as possible on the ride. The course was great and suited me very well, lots of long draggy fireroad climbing, just exactly my sort. I love getting into a rhythm and motoring up the hill. I had great fun on the descents and enjoyed this course a lot more than the NPS one. I was riding strong and had lots of "rabbits" there to overtake, especially once we started catching up with the other groups that had been set off before us. Since I hadn't pre-ridden the course before, I took the long last descent pretty easy.


Towards the end of the 1st lap I noticed a girl on my wheel. She couldn't have been doing the 25km, since they've been set off even later than us, she couldn't have been doing the 100km either, since I would have had to have overtaken her. So she must be doing my race! Who was she? I was in a good mood and now definitely up for a battle. She didn't want to take the lead on the downhill but stayed closely on my wheel. Then, in the second lap I decided to opt the pace slightly on the draggy uphills and slowly created a gap between her and me. Then I started catching up with some of the women doing the national champs course, I knew then I was going well. I was really buzzing when I entered the last long downhill section and the girl behind me was nowhere to be seen. I thought from now it's only downhill and I am not letting her catch me again on this. I raced down the downhill and then disaster struck. I must have been concentrating hard on the trail ahead that I went too close by a large loose twig.

National Marathon Champ Sally Bigham before the race.

This twig then got caught in my rear wheel and I thought the twig wrapped around my cassette. I slowed immediately and glanced down, but couldn't see the twig any more. Thinking I've avoided the worst, I gingerly turned my pedal and noticed my gears skipping, but then, oh no! I heard some crunchy noises around my wheel which then stopped turning completely and puff!!! all my air went out of my tire too. What had happened was that my rear derailleur must have been damaged by the twig and then wrapped around the cassette, broke a few spokes and the spokes pierced through the rim tape, causing the flat. It was clear that this was a show stopper. The rear derailleur was so badly caught in the cassette that I couldn't get it out. This meant I couldn't even roll down the descent! The thought of having to abandon a great race that I was leading and having to walk down from the farthest end of the course to the finish was really frustrating. So I made my way down, with all the riders that I had overtaken earlier catching up with me again.

Having fun at the start.

So, maybe now it's understandable why I was a little reluctant to update my blog?

Anyhow, I am feeling a lot better now and have decided to take racing a little easier for the second half of the season. I will mainly concentrate on the UK series, the German National Champs and the 2 Canadian world cups. My result in this NPS has given me the much needed kick up my bum and I am very motivated to do well in the next British NPS at Crow Hill. Bring it on!!!

Panorama of marathon racers

Results can be found on the TimeLaps website.

Race report available on BritishCycling.

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