Anchoring them home, and cementing his position as club male athlete of the year, was the in-form Adam Miller, who knocked an astounding 10 minutes off his personal best - set in London last year - to clock 2:38:44. This gave him an amazing 145th place overall in a race that is getting on for having 40'000 participants. He had hoped to break 2h45 and felt confident that he was capable of that, and anything near 2h40 would have been an absolute bonus, so 2h38 is nothing short of fantastic and just reward for all his hard training efforts over the cold winter months. Most impressively, this placed him as the 2nd fastest finisher in Devon, behind former Commonwealth Games marathoner, Stuart Hall. Adam says that he plans to have a break from the marathon next year but with a time that will gain him a championship start alongside Mo Farah, he may well be tempted back: watch this space!!
Not too far behind Adam, having run with him in the early stages of the race, was London Marathon stalwart Dave Stone. This year's performance marked a hatrick for Dave in two respects: firstly, it was his 3rd year of attempting to break a fancy-dress Guinness World Record (which he achieved, with the fastest marathon as a film character, dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean) , and secondly, it was the third year in a row that he has posted a time of 2h42! 2:42:52 this year, to be precise, placing him not only well up the field in his MV40 category (42nd), but also giving him a top 250 finish, in 249th overall. He was also comfortably the fastest finisher not only as a film character but in any form of fancy dress! Not bad stats, revealing that old (Jack) Sparrow legs is fast acquiring a reputation as Mr. Consistency!
Another London Marathon veteran, running in his 3rd consecutive race here, was Mike Musgrove. Mike's first outing at London ended in a rather dramatic fashion in the medical tent and was very much one that he'd rather forget. Having learnt a great deal from it though, he returned to the race last year to rewrite the script and turn it into a more pleasurable read. He ran comfortably within himself to give himself a confidence boost and to enjoy the experience along the way. In so doing, he raised a lot of money for his charity, Whizz Kidz, and still clocked a sub 3h time, with 2h58. This year, with a good block of training behind him and a superb performance at the Grizzly to give him a mental boost, he decided to go for it and see what he could do. He ran a sensibly paced race and remained strong to the end to clock a time of 2h50. Unfortunately, Mike was one of a few casualties of faulty timing technology, as his timing chip failed to register on the electronic mats, leaving him without an official finish time. However, just because this chips were down - literally and metaphorically - this did not get the better of Mike, who made a note of his finish time on the clock, so it's now just a case of waiting for the organisers to study the finish footage and attribute him an official time.
A happy trio of Harriers celebrate 2 PBs and a world record at the finish!
Hannah Bown is another athlete who had had a very successful build up to London, starting the season with a massive 10k PB at the First Chance race, then churning out some strong performances at the Grizzly and the Tavy 13. Her main goal for the race was to beat her already impressive PB of 3:14:24, set back in 2006. Since then Hannah has had three children and over the past few months has done remarkably to juggle motherhood, her teaching career and her running so well. She has, if anything, been running stronger than ever, despite being so busy, and so a new marathon PB was a very realistic prospect. Up until halfway, Hannah was on - in fact, well ahead of - target, passing through the 13.1 miles in 1h33. With even splits, this would have easily given her the sub 3h10 clocking she was hoping for. However, they often say a marathon is a 20 mile training run with a 10k race tagged on the end, and it is in the last 6 miles of the race that you can go from being comfortable to struggling in an instant. Hannah started to tire in the closing stages and unfortunately her mile splits started to drop off, but, fighting hard to the end, she crossed the line in a superb time of 3:16:46 for 259th female and 2867th place overall: just outside of her PB, still an amazing performance, equivalent to a sub 3h clocking for a man, and placing her as the 2nd fastest female finisher in Devon.
Hannah pushing on through Canary Wharf
Dave Backway received one of the club ballot places for the marathon and was tackling the distance for the first time. A PB of 1h28 for the half distance showed that he certainly had the capability of running a 3h30 marathon. This time was foremost in Dave's mind as a race goal.... the fact that his best mate and fellow Harrier Scott-2-Trigs-Jordan had recorded a time of 3:34:17 in last year's race is of course just a bizarre and unrelated coincidence....! ;-) With Dave, the speed was there, but unfortunately the endurance wasn't quite able to match it. He was very unlucky not to have broken the 4h barrier, stopping the clock at 4:04:43. Nevertheless, he was comfortably in the top third of the field with 9345th place. Afterwards, Dave said of his London experience: "Not as quick as I wanted but it gives me a time to beat next year if I get [in through] the ballot. I was [running] next to the 3:30 marker until mile 18-19 and then at mile 21 my legs started cramping up. More training next year should do the job. Overall a brilliant experience." Not put off and wanting to have another go next year: yes, Dave has been struck with Marathon Fever!
Dave reveling in his first marathon experience!
The sixth Harrier running was also a recipient of a marathon place via the club ballot, and, since finding out that she was "in" back in December, Diane Richards has devoted herself to a rigorous training regime, which included a few key build-up half-marathon races, so that she toed the start line on the day as well prepared as she could be. What she could not prepare herself for, however, was the unexpected sunshine that greeted the runners. After months of training in extremely cold conditions, this came as a bit of a shock to Diane's system and she admitted to struggling a bit with the sudden increase in temperature. Nevertheless, her time of 4:25:07 was still a PB and placed her pretty much in the middle of the whole field with 16,509th position and well above half in her FV45 category, with 487th of over 1,300. They say that the average marathon time for men and women is 4h30, which makes Diane very much above average!
Well done to all the Harriers and particularly a big well done for those who raised money for charity through their efforts. Adam was running for Cancer Research UK, Dave for Exmouth and Lympstone Hospice Care, Mike for Whizz-Kidz and Diane raised a fantastic £1500 for the Motor Neuron Disease Association after witnessing the condition first-hand in a friend’s relative.
A great day, fantastic to be there and be a part of the experience. I think those of us who supported were almost as tired as the the runners, after screaming and cheering so loudly and running around London, hopping on and off Tubes, to get to different vantage points on the route. All worth it though to witness a small but formidable band of Harriers flying the club flag high and with pride.