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Published: April 7th 2009
GOLD!!...Medal Number Twowww.justgiving.com/3marathonchallenge
well and truly earned I'd say!
It's often said that 'breakfast is the most important meal of the day'. Perhaps that explains why we were a tad hungry and disgruntled on arrival in Bratislava. Our hostel in Vienna had served up what appeared to be some form of prison food. As we scooped up our trays and sat down we spent the next 10 minutes working out what the gooey substance on our plates was. It was either very runny scrambled eggs or yellow porridge!
The sun was out in Bratislava and that helped to cheer us up somewhat as we wandered to our hotel. There would be no messing about with buses and metros on marathon day this time. Rich had conveniently booked us into a hotel in the city centre. Great, we thought, that is until he explained that there was a club below and it could get quite noisy in the evening! Just what you want the night before a marathon. We are however reasonable people and were prepared to overlook this.....the fact that we discovered it was a strip club is irrelevant.
Unable to check in before 1pm, we headed off in search of the town hall so that
The aptly named UFO bridge....
with Mulder and Scully....I'll leave you to decide which one is which.
we could register and collect our numbers for the following day. After 10 minutes of trying to convince them we had already paid the entrance fee, a few clicks on the internet was all it took us to realise we hadn't. Feeling quite foolish, we paid the the now increased 34 Euros and with reddened faces skulked off.
The three of us mooched about the small city centre taking in the sights. As with most eastern European capitals, Bratislava has become a favourite haunt with stag and hen groups. Having been here already on one of those such trips, Ben treated us to a very special tour of pubs and alleyways you can sleep down when you are too inebriated to find your hotel!
As a treat for the runners, that evening the organisers had laid on a concert, with Bratislava's finest artists on display. First up, a ridiculously embarrassing quartet of beat boxers in the main square. It was like a scene from the early rounds of the X-Factor. Four grown men spitting, blowing raspberries and making fart noises down the microphones. We were expecting an improvement of sorts when local rock band 'Gladiator' took to the
Beautiful architecture a plenty in Bratislava....
No don't worry Ben didn't pee up against here late time he was here!
stage. Unfortunately it felt more like we were watching the Christians being fed to the lions!
Late that night, Ben and I discussed our tactics for Sundays run. We'd always maintained finishing times wouldn't be important. This time our hand would be forced. Earlier in the day we discovered that there would be a 4 hour time limit. Bearing in mind that Rome took us 4 hrs 14 minutes to complete, we needed a plan or we would be sweeping up the course as we went along! If we could stay with the 3 hr 45 minute pacemaker for as long as possible, then hopefully if my knee blew out again, we wouldn't be too far from the finish AND we'd still have a 15 minute window....that was the plan then. BRATISLAVA MARATHON
Race day came and as we wandered to the start line, we were both anxious, Ben especially. It seemed all the talk of tactics and having to finish in under 4 hours had played on his mind last night. This is only the 4th ever Bratislava marathon and I dread to think how many attended the first. As we lined up right next to
He did however.....
nearly sleep in this alleyway!
the start line, there were less than 500 people and that included those taking part in the 1/2 marathon. We got off to a good start and were soon on the shoulders of the 3:30 pacemakers. We ran with them for a bit before a brainwave hit me? 'If we could get ahead of these guys, then we would have an even bigger window!' Much to Ben's surprise I hit the accelerator and they were soon left trailing.
Approaching our first lap around the city, I still felt really strong and checked with Ben that he was okay to keep going at the run aggressively (if my knee was to blow out I wanted to be as close to the finish line as possible!) We passed Rich and I triumphantly screamed out 'Come On Rich!' whilst pumping my fists, much to the amusement of the locals next to him. At the halfway point the number of runners had dramatically decreased, with the majority only running half the distance. The rain had also begun to fall on us, though it was quite welcome at this stage.
Soon we were back on the open road and eating up the miles.
It was around the 19 mile mark that fatigue soon started catching us up. With so few runners near us, it was starting to resemble a proper race like you see on TV, with huge gaps between the runners. With just three miles to go, I needed a pit stop. All the extra fluids I'd consumed had taken their toll. I pulled up to a hedge that which would have to suffice as a urinal. It was then that I realised every spare millilitre of blood I had, was surely pumping around the limbs that needed it the most. i.e the arms and legs. Upon locating the walnut whip shaped object between my legs, I finished my business and went about catching up to Ben.
We crossed the bridge back into town and there was still no sign of the pacemakers behind us. At this point I figured they'd just run the one lap to get you on the right track. That is until I saw the large clock above a shopping centre that read 13:33. A quick run of the figures in the old head and I allowed myself a small grin. We passed Rich on the final
bend and I think we took him a bit by surprise as he wasn't expecting us just yet!
We strode triumphantly towards the line and with arms aloft crossed it in a time of 3:26. We were over the moon. We allowed ourselves some rugged man hugs before heading off to find Rich. We had to remind ourselves to keep moving as we didn't want to stiffen up, also, now we had stopped running the wet clothes didn't feel too great. We headed back to the hotel to get warm and walking up to the third floor in John Wayne stances, it took us a bit longer than usual....much to Rich's amusement!
56 miles in two weeks deserves a reward and what better way to celebrate than with a few beers and looking at some pretty ladies removing their clothes for our viewing pleasure!
Alas it wasn't to be. Giving it our all running had put a hefty physical demand on our bodies. Ben and I spent the rest of the day passing the baton between us and taking it in turns using the facilities in our room. Poor Rich, instead of a few beers and some
Enjoying the Perfect Pre Race Warm Up Meal.....
Well I suppose there might be some carbs in it!
strippers he had to make do with some crisps we'd bought earlier in the day and the Miss Slovakia contest on TV! The grand total now sits at an unbelievable £2347.20! You are all heroes! Remember it's still not too late......after all £2500 is a much nicer figure to finish up on!
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