How often do you get up at 3:49am and say “Oh no, I’ve over slept”?
For a few years I’ve wanted to do the Giants Head Marathon and see the white ancient giant drawn out on the hill side. Only since having completed it yesterday have I Googled him to find out just a little bit more. He is called Cerne Abbas Giant, is 180 feet tall, made by cutting out turf and filling it with chalk and he’s the largest hillside drawing in England. His origin and age are unclear, he could be from the 17th century or maybe much older. Cerne Abbas is a small countryside village in the heart of Dorset.
What has put me off entering in previous years was how far away it is but this year I was determined to run the race. Now back to my question at the start. I’d elected to drive to the race on the morning of the event and with a race having a start time of 8:30am that meant an alarm call at 2:45am. I changed the alarm time on my clock but forgot the switch it on! I can’t believe I actually woke up at 3:49am (the time on my clock as I peered at it through my sleepy ears). Quickly I realised my mistake and did a bit of maths in my head, could I still make the long journey in time for the race for which I had been so looking forward to? I reckon it was still possible so I quickly threw on some cloths, did my teeth, grabbed my stuff which was all prepared and shot out of the door within 5 minutes.
I had checked some days earlier on the internet and apparently it was a 4 hour drive. With such an early morning drive there wasn’t any traffic and I managed the 242 mile journey in a little over 3 and a half hours giving me just short of a hour to register in the quaint village hall of Sydling St Nicholas and grab at bit of breakfast which I had brought in my car. I met friends Sandra and Gary at the start with a whole 10 minutes to spare, perfect.
The race was started in the centre of the small village with its sleepy thatched cottages by a lady on horseback in full horse riding costume with a long horn.
The weather was lovely, mostly sunny and warm getting quite hot by midday, a bit too hot for running but luckily there was a breeze during parts of the course.
The course is set in rolling countryside, up and down hills, nothing too large but lots of them. We seemed to be either going up or down but not often running on the flat. Lots of the course was along the sides of farmer’s fields along the paths made by tractors. These were very uneven and awkward to run on. It was made worse for me as the grass on either side was very long and whipped around my legs affecting my hayfever and causing an allergic reaction on my legs covering them in an itchy rash. I can’t ever remember running a race through so many fields! There was hardly a car in sight and you could have been forgiven for thinking you had gone back in time several hundred years with all the fields and the scattering of little picturesque villages. For anyone who wanted to be away for modern civilization and surrounded by countryside for a few hours then this is the marathon for you.
At 8 miles a runner pointed across the valley to show me the Giant on the other side, it was great to eventually get to see him.
On my Garmin the course measured long at just over 27 miles, but that didn’t matter both the course and the scenery had all been lovely. The hills and the heat meant my time wasn’t going to be fast but this race was never going to be about the time, which incidentally was 4:15. With half a mile to go there was a nice view looking into the final valley with Sydling St Nicholas nestled in the bottom. The downhill into the village was fun and ended at a well laid out finish line on the village green with a bit of a summer fair atmosphere.
This had been one mammoth marathon drive for a mammoth marathon. So pleased I’d finally got to do this race, it was thoroughly worth all the effort and what a distinctive medal!