This is Laura’s account of her epic Brighton Marathon run, which she did to raise funds for the Lymphoma Association. As many readers might know, her father (and Cox Bank Publishing’s good friend) sports photographer Mick Hall was diagnosed with Lymphoma in May 2016. He got the all clear in December 2016. As Laura says, “He is one of the lucky ones”.
This is Laura’s story.
My dad has always been, and still is, a big influence my running. I remember from a young age being so excited and inspired by him running the London marathon. I thought he was going to be on the television! And seeing all the running medals he had made me want to one day run the London marathon - which I did back in 2011. Also travelling around with him to various races that he photographs at and helping him made me want to take up running. Getting to run in all sorts of different races around the country and even abroad is great. I get to travel and see places I've never been to and take part in a sport I love. So, thanks dad!
So, when I found out that he had cancer, my first thoughts were that I wanted to run another marathon and raise some money for charity. Do my bit to help others in the same situation. And when I didn't get in London, I decided on Brighton.
Lymphoma like the many other types of cancer is a horrible illness and ways of preventing and curing it needs to be found. So I ran Brighton to help raise some money, and in the future hopefully no one will have to suffer from cancer.
I could see the big screen from my position in the start pen. It showed parts of the course and clips from last year. I was starting to feel excited, as well as a little nervous. The first to start were the elite and red start. Then it was blue and then yellow. I could see runners looping round the outside of the park as I waited to start.
I tried to stay calm as I approached the start line and told myself to take it steady. It was a warm day and I might find it difficult to get under my target time of 4 hours 30 minutes. There will be another chance to do it, if I don't do it today. Try and enjoy it!
The race had started. The course looped round the park. I could see the last two pens waiting to start. There was a slight uphill which was fine. It meant that I didn't go off too quick. I told myself just to take it steady, as I had a long way to go. I did the first mile in 10.18, which was my target pace. So, spot on! Someone shouted only 25 miles to go, which made me smile.
I saw Craig (my fiancé) at 2 miles but he didn't see me. The course looped round and there were quite a few points where I could see the runners a mile or two ahead or behind me. I saw Craig again at around 5 miles. I was going to get a drink at 5 miles but the water station was busy, so I grabbed one at 6 miles and had one of my gels.
At mile 6 the course went along the the coast and I could see the sea! I also saw the 12 mile marker, so I knew I had 6 miles to do before I returned to this point. I saw the elites go past and kept an eye out for people I knew. Looking at all the different club and charity vests took my mind off the heat. I still felt good at this point and was averaging just under 10 minutes a mile. The course carried on along the coastal road until around 8 miles. I could see a windmill in the distance. The course then turned up a road towards Ovingdean, where there were some houses and people spectating, before heading back towards Brighton.
At 12 miles I had another gel. I could see the final runners on the other side of the road. Most of them were walking and enjoying the atmosphere. At 13 miles, Craig ran with me for a bit and took some photos. I ran past the finish area, I still had 13 miles to go, but I still felt good. And I was still on for 4 hours 30 minutes. At 14 miles the course went back inland, past some shops and houses. I was glad to get some shade and get out of the sun. At 16 miles the route doubled back on itself and headed back towards the sea.
The course then headed towards an industrial estate. I had heard about this part and was not looking forward to it. At 20 miles I reached the industrial estate. I could see the warehouses and also some wind turbines. I thought of Craig because he loves wind turbines! There weren't many people about and it was starting to get very warm. There were a couple of showers on the course and I ran through them to cool down. It helped for a few minutes but I soon warmed up again. My pace started to drop at 21 miles and by 22 miles it had dropped to 11 minutes a mile, which is what I expected. I had to wait for someone to pour me a cup of water at mile 22 because they were starting to run out of water at the water stations. Also at this point there was shade, so I kept in it.
At mile 23 the course went on to a path by the sea and the crowds returned. I knew that I just had to run at 11 minutes a mile and I would get my target time. I saw Craig again at mile 24. He ran with me until mile 25. He gave me some encouragement and passed me a bottle of water. I had a few sips and then passed it back to him. At 25 miles he told me to keep going and to push on. I had 13 minutes to do the last mile and a bit, so I knew that as long as I kept going, I would do it.
I did the last mile in 10.18 pace, the same time as my first mile. I pushed to the finish line. When I stopped my watch, I had a time of 4 hours 29 minutes and 5 seconds. I had finished the marathon and beaten my target time. I was so happy! And tired and warm! I collected my medal, T-shirt, water and other bits and my bag from baggage. I then headed over to the beach to wait for Craig, before heading back to the park and ride.
I enjoyed my weekend in Brighton. It is a nice seaside city with plenty to see and do. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't have time to get fish and chips afterwards. It also would have been nice to have an ice cream, but never mind! I don't think I’ll be doing Brighton again, ony because a marathon is so tough and there are so many other ones I would like to do. Overall though I'm very proud of myself. I did the time I set out to do and I ran all the way round. And I raised over £500 for the Lymphoma Association.