North Dorset Marathon Relay

This week feels very strange to me. The UK had Monday off as a bank holiday and then I was only at work for Tuesday and Wednesday before having Thursday and Friday off (another wedding, hurrah!).

Anyway I mentioned in my last post that I ran the North Dorset Marathon as part of a relay team. There were four of us in total from (all female). Quite a few people from the running club were there as part of the relay (we had four teams in total), or part of the marathon, or to support.

Ben and me had to get up at the joyous time of 5.20am on Sunday to meet some guys for a lift at 6am. I ate my porridge in the car in a state of tired confusion.

There was a tiny part of me that was jealous of the marathon runners. I much preferred the idea of running slower for longer than faster for shorter, if that made sense. But the course is very hilly so in retrospect I’m happy I didn’t!

One of our team members had made us all hair ribbon ties to wear which were amazing.

Race hair ribbons

A go faster bobble!

Coincidentally Ben and me were down to run the last legs of the relay so despite the race starting at 8.30am, we actually had around 2.5 hours until we were running. This was both good and bad. It gave my body time to wake up and get going, but also there was a lot of nervous energy coursing through me for an extended period of time. I sort of wanted to just “get it over with”, you know?

IMG_6564 Before the race keeping warm in jeans – he didn’t run in them! (Ouch)

Actually though there really wasn’t much time to wait around and dwell. After seeing our first lady off for her first leg, we had to dash to the Race Mobile and get going to the hand-over point for the second leg. After getting there, parking, using the loo (I used each loo at each handover point – my pee likes to save itself up apparently), we stood there with the other running club guys and supporters and cheered on the super fast marathoners zooming through and other relay teams. It was a lot of fun to cheer people on and we saw our running club marathoners pass which was great. And it was also fun cheering on cyclists that happen to pass through too…and the odd car hehe “strong driving!”

IMG_6566Princess Leia, Darth Vader and some other Star Wars characters were out in force (tee hee) as it was May 4th (Star Wars Day). I am hugely impressed with them being able to run in full costume. Amazing.

As soon as our first lady appeared the hand-over commenced and then we rushed to the Race Mobile to get to the next location. This was a bit more hairy as we only had 4.5 miles (the first leg was 7ish miles). Our poor first team member barely had a chance to catch her breath! But she’d set us up well for a strong start.

The next location was fairly similar. At this point I was getting hungry. It was about 10am and having had breakfast a good four hours ago I was starting to wilt a bit. Luckily the other guys had the forethought to have brought more than just apples with them so I snacked on half a bagel.





The weather was lovely, though a little chilly in the shade. You just knew it would get hot on the run. Our ladies were running really strong and soon it was my turn to wait for the handover of the baton. I started doing a little warm-up as I waited. We knew only the rough time of when our runner would be coming in from working out predicted splits.


Warming up

After seeing my team mate in the distance I whipped off my long running top to reveal my superman costume…whoops, no, to reveal my vest underneath with the bib ready to go go go.

As I grabbed the baton and headed off I felt exhilarated and ready. I knew that my section was fairly hilly (well, the whole course was really) and it was 6.8miles. I’d set myself a very loose target of a pace 7.30-8minute miles and just see how it went. It was a strange race if I’m honest as it wasn’t just my race, it was the team’s race. So that added some pressure but also relieved me a bit as it wasn’t just my time that mattered.

With a very small field of runners (less than 500 I think) it was quite lonely out there. I settled into a nice rhythm around 7.30min/miles and felt that I was comfortably pushing it but nothing extreme (not a Parkrun/5k exertion if you know what I mean). This did mean however that I quickly came upon marathon runners. Obviously I’d just started, my legs were fresh and I was only running about 7 miles so it made sense I’d be overtaking marathoners. But I felt very bad. I made it very clear when I ran past I was a relay runner and tried to encourage them (not sure if this was the best thing to do but I felt I couldn’t just overtake them).

I ran with one guy who was lovely and we chatted for about 0.5 miles until he told me to push on as he was trying to keep up with me which was ruining his pacing – he said something about a “male ego” 😉 I ran past another guy who grunted “hmph, relay runner” when I overtook. When I asked him if he knew how far we had left to go (as I couldn’t do the maths from my Garmin) he said in a very clipped voice “no”. I quickly apologised and headed off. Don’t annoy the marathoners, Anna!

After passing the 25 mile marker I knew I could push it on. I’m so pleased with how I felt during this race. I never once felt like I was dying, or it was too hard. It felt good.

NDM Relay

This gives me huge confidence for my upcoming 10k (worst distance) in a few weeks.

image I finished literally as my team arrived after getting to the finish and parking the car. Fairly amusing. We came second female relay team and our overall time was 3:23:05. Amazing, super running ladies! But it seriously made me realise I am so far away from that sort of time doing a marathon on my own.

One of our speedy marathoner’s had finished already in a very nice time of 3.17.xx (he did Paris as well…oh and he was the one who cycled with us on Monday – fresh as a daisy!) We then stood to cheer our other relay teams and marathoners.

Our other marathoners did amazingly too. Seriously impressive times considering the course profile and warm/sunny conditions. To be honest, I’m just hugely impressed at anyone who completed that marathon – my leg was hard enough with those hills! Paris was hard but that was flat. Not sure how keen I’d be to do this marathon…maybe when I’m a bit more experienced.

Ben NDMStrong running from the hubby

Ben’s relay team did great too with a time of 4:02:22. The morale was just brilliant and I loved supporting everyone and hearing how everyone’s run went.

As our team came second we got a little trophy (wish I’d have taken a photo) and a bottle of cider each. Not bad at all!

I definitely recommend a relay marathon to anyone; the morale within the team, the fun of driving off to the next location and supporting the marathoners is just a brilliant experience.

Have you ever done a relay?

What’s your ideal course profile in terms of terrain, popularity, length and elevation? I think mine would be a half marathon, off road with no more than 500 people (Cheddar Gorge half anyone…?).

Do you talk to people in races or do you like to be left alone? If I’m pushing hard then I tend to not be able to chat away but I do like a good natter in a race.

14 Replies to “North Dorset Marathon Relay”

  1. I’ve never done a relay race myself before, but loved the atmosphere from the Conti Lightning Run at the weekend. I ran solo but the event was mainly made up of teams running laps. So many uttered words of “Well done Solo!” as they passed or chatted to me towards the end when we were all feeling pretty tired and this was great – so much atmosphere at the event.
    Those hair ribbons are great! Excellent idea! I think it was at London last year our club runners painted their nails bright green to match our vests.
    I definitely prefer off-road to road races and I think longer distance is my favourite. Marathons or halves. I’d like to get into a bit better shape ready for Autumn and hopefully a PB for each…(fingers crossed!)
    Mary recently posted…Milton Keynes Marathon – not a runnerMy Profile

    1. I think the Conti Lightning Run sounds a bit like a relay race in that there were teams. I’m doing Endure 24 (a 24 hour race) in a group of 8 so it’ll probably be very similar to that.
      I’m so rubbish at nail painting that I probably wouldn’t attempt it. Maybe get someone to do it for me…
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…A long way to goMy Profile

  2. I don’t know if I could ever run a relay, because I’m very much a solo runner and I would be so worried about letting everyone else down. I would also wish I was doing the whole race, so I think I’d end up with quite a negative mindset about it and thus not have much fun. Not that I generally have fun while racing anyway these days. Congrats on such a strong leg, and for your team placing though! You did the right thing by being so courteous as well – when I ran the Edinburgh Marathon, the relay runners there just about flattened anyone in their path and certainly made no apology for it.

    Jess recently posted…Insult to InjuryMy Profile

    1. I did get a bit of marathon envy. And at the end you didn’t feel quite as euphoric or like it was such an achievement because there were all these marathon runners collapsing left right and centre (in a non-injured/bad way) who had done so much more than us.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…A long way to goMy Profile

  3. Great effort, Anna! A marathon relay sounds great fun and I bet it’s fantastic for team morale. I’ve only ever done short relays before but I hate being the last runner as I get so nervous whilst I’m just stood waiting around. Mind you, it must have felt pretty good being able to cross the marathon finisher’s line with all the support that entails 🙂
    Autumn recently posted…A Race In PicturesMy Profile

    1. It was pretty cool being the last runner and actually finishing the race. But I felt so inferior to all the amazing marathon runners who had just run the whole damn thing. But being part of a team was just excellent.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…A long way to goMy Profile

  4. This sounds like such fun, the pictures are great too. I was convinced the Milton Keynes marathon was going to be flat, but was shocked at how hilly it was- it would not be my choice of elevation for a race- especially a marathon, it’s so draining running up and down so many times.
    Lauren (@PoweredbyPB) recently posted…Om Yoga Magazine MayMy Profile

    1. Yeah and the downhills can be just as tough as the uphills as you get further into the miles. But from your race report it sounds like a good one – I might be tempted at some point in the future!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…A long way to goMy Profile

  5. I’d like to do a relay, but I would worry about letting the team down if I ran a slow time. I’d say my favourite type of race is a flat, scenic 10k race with no more than 1000 runners- the Cambridge Town and Gown last October pretty much fitted into all those criteria.
    Well done on your relay- great time!
    Lucy recently posted…Take on the Triathlon with Michelle DillonMy Profile

    1. The best thing about the team was that we weren’t focused on speedy times. Just running and enjoying it. And we put a lot of emphasis on supporting our other team mates running the marathon. So running next to them and helping them out.
      A flat 10k with nice scenery does sound good!
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…A long way to goMy Profile

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