Holy Island Marathon, 13th May 2017

Nina Jensen reports on her latest marathon adventure with Julie Dumpleton:

Holy Island Marathon or the Lindisfarne Chronicles

Julie D and I completed the inaugural Holy Island Marathon on Sat 13th May. This was a low key event organised by Evrotas running club based in London and had the sum total of 16 runners including us two. The event had a maximum of 30 runners due to the access of some of the land on the route.

After an early start we arrived in the sleepy village of Burnmouth, a Scottish fishing village.

One of the runners, Brian who was there before us lived about 500 metres from the start and had managed to blag his 3 year old grandson the key job of starting the race.

After a race briefing which included the key sentence if you keep the sea on your left and the railway tracks on the right you’ll be fine, we were lined up on the harbour wall and at 8am and a countdown were off.

We were initially led out of the village and up the hill by Brian then we were on the coastal path and left to our own devices.

The view from here would’ve been spectacular however it was thick fog and we could barely see in front of our faces.

The route followed the coastal path towards Berwick and by then the fog had cleared and the sun was out just in time to meet the cheery marshals.

The route was a real mixed terrain including 2 miles along the beach from Cheswick. We were hoping that the sand would be firm and easy to run on as we had a 4 hour cut off to reach the causeway at holy island and 19 miles.

We made the cut off where we were met by a leaping marshal who told us to follow the telegraph poles across the causeway. This is the original Pilgrims Trail and is across slimy slippy muddy sand and water. Thank goodness we’d done some of the cross country races. We managed to hold onto our shoes, someone had not been so lucky with their welly as we spotted one sticking out of the mud at some point, and made it across the causeway.

Ah only 5 miles to go now Julie, I shouted. We were optimistic that we were almost done. Oh how foolish we were!

Many if you will know about hitting the wall in a marathon, usually around the 20 mile point. However Julie and I hit a wall of endless sand dunes. Because of nesting birds we’d been asked to follow the path around the coastline so we scrambled up and down relentless hills of sand. There were no markers at this point so a marshal had pointed in the general direction of a big white nautical navigation triangle and said to aim in that general direction. We later found out that some of the runners had decided enough was enough and just ran along the beach instead.

Eventually we reached the giant white pyramid and hugged it like a long lost friend before continuing on towards the castle where the marshal instructed us to do a loop of the track and then pointed us onwards.

The priory was in sight by now and this was where we finished. We almost missed the finish despite there being a huge crowd of people waving at us with boards displaying the word FINISH on them. Sprint Julie shouted so we did.

No official times but it took around 5h 20m. After being presented with a huge medal and a stuffed goody bag we waited for the final runners to come in before posing for group photos.

I think this has got to be my favourite marathon out of 22 and if Evrotas hold it next year I’d recommend a few more sky blues joining us.

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