Abing' A Great Time!

Thanks to Lamb, one of the forumites running in Abingdon Marathon, you can read all about the race and discover how our intrepid team got on

Posted: 28 October 2003
by The Lamb

One of the best things about the forum club, now in its second year, is the way in which runners of every level of experience, speed and inclination come together to share the experience of running. This inclusive spirit was very much in evidence when around 20 Forumites gathered to sample the delights of the fast, flat course offered by the Abingdon Marathon. For some it was a welcome return to a favourite race, for others, another stab at the Marathon after the PB-destroying scorcher that was the Flora London Marathon 2003 and alongside these eager souls were many first-timers tackling their first 26.2.

Concentrate now . . Ye Hippo, Ashley Smith, Timothy Rainey, Cornflakes (white cap), Norfolk Dumpling (grey cap), Evil Pixie (28), richk, Jane M (in yellow), Lamb (at back), Debster (354), Sutts, Peppermint Hippo, Muttley (looking worried at the back), Last Minute Liz (blue cap), Stickless, Dawn (peeping over S's shoulder) and Shades...

Forum runners took over the Crown & Thistle pub the night before the race, with the check-in causing some amusement as everyone was booked in under their forumite names. 14 forumites – Ashley, Sutts, Benz, Timothy Rainer, The Coach, Cornflakes, Aljan, Debster, JaneM, Liz, Speed Ted, Flying Ant, Stickless and RichK - gathered for essential lasagne-oriented carbo-loading in the hotel dining room, which had been tastefully decorated with balloons and URWFRC banners.

But it was a ‘fresh’ 9am start for the field, who assembled at the Tilsley Park Stadium in various degrees of shivering undress (depending on anticipated completion time). As a race with a welcoming attitude to beginners and slower runners, there was a large forum contingent at the back of the pack, who were treated to a glimpse of the first forum tattoo before the off…

Nicko, our own forumite marshal finds time to strike a pose

A beautiful clear Autumn morning and a varied 3-loop course through pretty Oxfordshire villages made for pleasant running early in the race. Later on, the now infamous stretch along the side of a pig field momentarily transported the entrants into the Marathon des Sables as the road disappeared in a storm of dust and sand. In fact, the whole last loop, which followed long main roads and lacked the scenic ‘eye candy’ of the previous miles, proved a challenge to the even the most seasoned race veterans and had a telling effect on finishing times. Though some of the more ambitious amongst us were disappointed with their final results, there were also a few notable triumphs of sheer bloodimindedness over adversity.

Dawn surges past David Wilkinson at the 12 mile drink station

Peppermint Hippo refused to give in to stomach problems and remained cheerful throughout to cross the line in 6:08:55, while Evil Pixie did not let the absence of marshals, signs and manned water stations deter her from completing her debut marathon in just over 7 hours. In a noteworthy demonstration of the forum musketeer spirit, Ye Hippo provided the intrepid Pixie and her pacers with a cycling marshal service on the final loop despite having finished the race himself in a perky 3:12:02.

Though there was almost four hours between the first forum finisher and the last, with club members tasting both agony and ecstacy, there was one notable area of consensus. In the online postrace analysis, almost everyone had words of praise for the helpful attitude and friendliness of the marshals. Our very own Nicko of darkside fame was one of them and seemed to be everywhere on the course, cheering us all on and giving inspiration and encouragement where it was needed. And although support was officially withdrawn after six hours, the marshalling team went beyond the call of duty to assist Pixie’s marathon campaign, driving out and leaving chocolate and water at an abandoned feed station.

Debster and her Marathon hero, Cyril Bethel, "from 21 miles we managed to shuffle each other all the way to the end - without him I doubt I would have made it."

Abingdon may be a small race in this age of mass participation marathons, but it is easy to see why it has been chosen as the venue for many championships, including the army and the police. The fast, flat course will please PB-hunters, while the friendly and welcoming atmosphere is encouraging to first-timers and slower runners. It has definitely won a few converts amongst the forumites, many of whom have already pledged to race in 2004. A huge thankyou to all the people who made the race possible… and see you next year!


What They Said...

  • Muttley: "My high-points were meeting Pixie, Benzie and Tim on the road and RichK at the stadium, always a pleasure. And I nearly got neutered by Shades."

  • The Evil Pixie: "I'm home, in one piece and need wine, food and a long bath!"

  • Fruity Reindeer: "Well done Benz! They should bottle your grit and determination and sell it, they would make a fortune. Solid stuff indeed (well - sort of!)."

  • Sutts: "Well done to everyone. It was great to meet the Crown and Thistle "Crew" on Saturday (Thanks for organizing it Ashley) and everyone else. I managed to plod around in 3:23:37, (15 mins faster than my only other marathon) so I'm over the moon. I really enjoyed the run, it was well worth the drive down fron Derbyshire and I'm already planning a return trip next year."

  • Plum: "The thought of 6 hours ..sorry 5 1/2 in my company is the only inspiration you need Benz!"

  • Peppermint HIppo: "Funny that mile 14 was a low point for a few people. I forgot to metion Peter and Paul. Paul was blind, and on his 165th marathon and we ran with him for a little while. What a guy!"

  • The Lamb: "When I train for and complete a marathon for myself, then I deserve the credit for my own achievement. But yesterday was all about supporting someone else. I know it sounds strange, but it wasn't a race result for me as I wasn't there for me - does that make sense?"

  • Timothy Rainey: "I have to rest now as my legs have dropped off. At least it feels that way!"

  • Capricorn: "Yes - really well done EP. It was you who inspired me to do my first marathon as well with your cheerful and enthusiastic postings back in May (was it??). So you can take credit for that too! And well done to everyone else too. I didn't get to meet many of you (except Rita, and Ashley briefly at around 22miles), and went straight home afterwards, but maybe next time ...."

  • For a list of race results Click here

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    abingdon marathon, forum report, forumites

    Discuss this article

    Is this a good Marathon to do as your first one??????????
    Posted: 09/04/2003 at 18:11

    I did this last year and I would recommend it in terms of the organisation and course. It is flat and quite scenic. The only thing is that it is a small run (less than 500 entrants I think) and there is not a lot of spectators/ support.

    It was only my second marathon (I did London 11 years before) and I got a PB by 35 minutes so I will remember it fondly (particularly as I also avoided 'the wall')

    Posted: 10/04/2003 at 13:50

    I am also thinking of doing this one as my first marathon Colin. The crowds of people at London put me off the idea of going there.
    Posted: 17/04/2003 at 10:14


    I'd definitely recommend this one. I did it in 2001 in the fastest time I've run for years. It's fast, flat, quite scenic and superbly well organised. Will probably do it again this year - unless I go to Snowdon or Dublin the week after.


    Posted: 17/04/2003 at 10:51

    I'm toying with doing this at the moment.

    Can anyone elaborate on where the route goes? I grew up in this neck of the woods (Wantage) and know it goes through some of the local villages (Cothill, Shippon, Drayton, etc), but nothing more than that. Any more info. anyone?


    Posted: 17/04/2003 at 15:38

    Theres a rough description of the route on the Abingdon Amblers web site and more details about this marathon, see below:-


    If you know the area which I don't this should help.
    Posted: 17/04/2003 at 17:21

    I did this a few years ago when at the last minute I was prevented flying out to the Chicago Marathon due to work commitments - and this was the only alternative on the same date (the year that Kannouchi got his first WR there).

    The company I worked for had just been taken over and I had to be in meeting in Stuttgart early Monday - and I didn't want to waste the training. Ironically, the company that took us over were based in Abingdon!!

    Good event, well organised, small field (both fast and slow runners), flat course.

    Overall - not bad for a first low-key marathon (although the year I did it the last 6 miles were in a howling gale)
    Posted: 18/04/2003 at 00:37

    Having just fought my way through the crowds of London, this looks like a good bet to go for a faster time in the Autumn. But will it be too much of an anti climax if it is not well supported?
    Posted: 20/04/2003 at 13:37

    When is this one, guys? Have thought about doing this in previous years as my Mum lives in the area so I could milk the catering service/cheering squad quite well (I'd make her cheer for all you lot too if a load of us were doing it). Having read here that it's flat too I am even more tempted...want a fast course having done 3 big city marathons and am chasing an illusive sub-4.
    Posted: 20/04/2003 at 17:04

    Nicola, It's on Sunday 19th October 2003. Where does your Mum live? My folks are in Wantage.
    Posted: 20/04/2003 at 21:01

    Mum lives in Watlington - v small place, just off junction 6 of M4 (or is it M40, I can never remember. M4. No, M40. Dunno)
    Posted: 20/04/2003 at 21:19

    OK, if you two are laying on the cheer leaders that's good enough for me. It is undulating here in Milton Keynes where I do my training, so a flat, fast course with cheering crowds has got me hooked. I will give it a go.
    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 15:23

    EP, have a look at the results by following the link from the RW events section; as you might expect the distribution of times is heavily weighter towards the faster runners (sub4) but why the heck not do it, it'd be uncrowded and flat with none of the hassle of bigger races.

    Fairly tempted myself at this point in time.
    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 18:08

    ill do it with you if im not on call

    It will save me form wolverhampton
    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 18:08

    It SAYS slow runners welcome
    the course is covered for 6 hours
    im not on call

    Im entering
    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 18:10

    EP and Hippo.

    I am tempted too......
    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 18:12

    Cool, this could be the autumn forum marathon meet.
    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 18:15

    I wanna do it
    otherwise it will have to be wolverhampton
    resulting in divorce, and likely death for me as i already have two halves in september
    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 18:21

    Thought about this one but looks like I am opting to the Battersea Marathon in September now, as that is just before the FLM 04 entry cut-off for target times.

    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 18:23

    wot, the outdoor treadmill
    I fancied that too
    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 18:54

    lol, yes thats the one :)
    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 19:24

    me too
    hee hee
    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 20:14

    You could always both do Battersea :)
    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 20:15

    oooooh, i could go for a pb

    any nice places to stay?
    Posted: 21/04/2003 at 20:26

    Listening to you all I,ve now decided this is a definate one for my first marathon too.
    Judging by my half marathon time though I'm aiming for 3hours 30mins all being well between now and then and I can get rid of a chest infection (hoping its not sars) thats stopped my training schedule.
    Posted: 22/04/2003 at 08:22


    After your emails last night I seem to have agreed to do this!

    Posted: 22/04/2003 at 09:00

    I have done this twice before and out of the marathons I have done (london, Stratford) I found this to be the best. Mostly because it is flat, easy to get to and park, excellently organised. If I was going to do another marathon I would choose this one.
    Posted: 22/04/2003 at 14:17

    Delighted to see so much interest in this. I had been toying with doing it, but reckon I'll definitely give it a shot if there are so many forumites doing it. Am trying to persuade Lamb to do it as well - she is back from the States this week so if and when she appears on this thread, please give her loads of encouragement and arm twisting as necessary!!!

    I know Watlington very well. I've got a mate that lives nearby and I frequent one of the pubs there from time to time (there's a surprise!)
    Posted: 22/04/2003 at 16:13

    I'm keen too but working backwards from 12/10 means starting marathon training - again - end July/early August. Also makes a pigs ear out of weekends throughout summer/September. Can I face it so soon?

    Think I'll decide after I've done a few 10Ks in May/June and feel ready to tackle another marathon, only want to do it if I can train well and get huge PB!

    Best of luck to everyone else though.
    Posted: 22/04/2003 at 16:38

    I commend you on your rapid response EP!!! Excellent work!!!
    Posted: 22/04/2003 at 16:44

    I'm sure we can 'reel her in' by wearing her down over the next few weeks!
    Posted: 22/04/2003 at 16:58

    I'm up for this one - EP I reckon I will be the slowest but I live so close to Abingdon it would be silly not to do this.

    Look forward to seeing you all there. The villages round the route are really scenic.
    Posted: 22/04/2003 at 19:05

    the partys at the back!
    Posted: 22/04/2003 at 19:48


    Yes, consider that a challenge.

    Your mission, should you choose to accept it (or even if you don't!), is to get The Lamb to commit to running Abingdon by the end of next week.

    Don't worry, I'll help as best I can!

    Posted: 22/04/2003 at 20:59

    The Abingdon marathon is more appealing by the minute - can't wait to meet you all.
    Posted: 22/04/2003 at 21:13

    Glad to hear we're coaxing you into it Lilian!!! Whereabouts around Abingdon do you live? As I've said elsewhere on this thread, I was brought up in Wantage so know the area pretty well.
    Posted: 22/04/2003 at 23:13

    TDW - I live in Didcot and work in Abingdon - have lived round here for lots of years!!! I worked in Wantage for a while - lovely area.
    Posted: 23/04/2003 at 07:32

    There are some lovely parts of South Oxfordshire, although I hope they still look lovely after running 26.2 miles around them!

    Look forward to meeting you in the Autumn.
    Posted: 23/04/2003 at 09:48

    Esteemed company already. Will see how Sunday goes but am tempted as its local
    Posted: 23/04/2003 at 17:20

    Sunday=Shakespeare Marathon Pix, my first.

    Looking like a disaster already with rain, son with chicken pox and wife eight months pregnant. F@cking FLM!!
    Posted: 23/04/2003 at 17:27

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