London Marathon 2015: Completing the Baldock Beast with grimaced teeth

Nick with his medal after completing the 2015 Baldock Beast.

Nick with his medal after completing the 2015 Baldock Beast. - Credit: Archant

Today I reached another milestone, but with grimaced teeth.

Taking part in this year’s Baldock Beast half marathon was a bit of a treat for me, by all accounts.

Instead of pounding pavements or dodging muddy puddles by myself, I was joined by more than 300 other hardy souls on a misty and slightly chilly morning in the North Herts countryside.

I even had my own three-strong cheering squad together with some friendly locals and marshals to help me on my way to my first 13.1-mile run of my training regime.

And it all started so well. The weather was behaving for one – pretty much perfect for running, not freezing cold and very little wind.


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It was easy to keep warm beforehand, too. One of the great things about the ‘Beast’ is it’s no-nonsense set up – the baggage drop is just meters from the start line which meant I could keep my jumper on until just a few minutes before the race started.

And then it’s a quick assemble before the gun, and you’re off and across the line in no time.

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I had placed myself towards the back of the field, intent on sticking to my nine minute mile plan to replicate my intended London Marathon pace.

It’s easy to get caught up in the race environment and surge off – especially when I have ran a fair bit quicker in the past – but I ticked off the first few miles within a few seconds of nine minutes without much trouble.

Shouts of ‘car’ every now and then act as a reminder that you are travelling on country lanes but for most of the route the runners had the course – which is lovely – to themselves.

After seeing my ‘fans’ at just before the 5.5-mile point (near Sandon), that changed, as about five deer bolted across the lane and into another field. They timed it well – between two groups of runners – but I think it did give a couple a fright.

Following Deer-Gate, I tackled a muddy wooded section which has already become infamous in the race’s short history. Despite a fair few puddles, it really wasn’t too bad and just adds to the variety of the scenic course.

I haven’t mentioned the hills to this point, but there are a fair few. The gradual nature is a challenge, but a beatable one.

Looping round I waved again to my loved ones and told them I was right on track, before setting my sights on the final six miles of the race.

And then I felt a sharp pain in my left knee. I told the woman I had been running with to go on as I slowed down and pondered whether I could keep going.

I don’t know what brought it on so suddenly but after a few minutes it became more bearable, and I focused on the road – and hills – ahead.

The big one is around 10 miles – there’s a dip down half way up before it swings right but when you’re at the bottom it can be quite daunting. Yet in reality it’s not that bad, especially when you know there’s a drink waiting for you round the corner and most of the route thereafter is downhill.

The last few miles were a bit lonely, as I often found myself too far behind the runner in front and ahead of the person behind, but I gritted my teeth and continued to clock nine minute miles to the finish.

I crossed the line in a little under two hours, with 13.18 miles registered on my Garmin watch.

Pace and run – perfect, knee – not. Back to the physio I go.

• To sponsor me and support St John Ambulance click here (please).

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