Race Report: Julius Naim.
Sunday 28 May was the inaugural Dorchester Marathon and Casterbridge Half. Being a new local event I entered pretty much the day entries opened nearly a year ago, fellow Running for Time members David Lynam and Marianne King had entered the half. The races were organised by the Rotary Club and White Star Running, known for tough trail races, party-like atmosphere and ridiculously oversized yet glorious medals.
Unfortunately, due to having the lurgy Marianne made the difficult, yet sensible, decision not to race. Typically I was not so sensible, sure that by the start of the race my chesty cough would clear up.
The routes were both all on road with some undulation. The marathon had around 1,200 ft of elevation and the half 880 ft, while not particularly hilly this made them both challenging affairs.
The loony atmosphere of White Star Races was certainly present, the Facebook group had been filled with chatter about a superhero theme. I had suggested Dorks for Dorkchester but the superheroes were in abundance… it would seem that I was the only Dork… fear not for R4T Facebook friend Duncan aka Pantboy seemed to have forgotten his (PE) kit and had to run in his pants.
At the start of the Marathon crowds were assembling near the starting mats and as it got closer the race director started the briefing. Unfortunately, the portable PA system was barely audible (apparently the proper PA system didn’t materialise) but it didn’t spoil the atmosphere. The race director handed over to the Dorchester crier who, up in a cherry picker, bellowed out a rather humorous ditty and with one of the rings of his bell we were off.
The course went through the thoroughly beautiful Dorset countryside in surrounding Dorchester. The weather was warm, dry and visibility was great which meant each view across the fields was wonderful. Along the way, villagers were outside their houses to cheer runners along offering support. The water stations were typical White Star affairs, which was wonderful; water, snacks, sweets and, most importantly, happy faces. Of course, being White Star, at mile 22ish there was their infamous LoveStation with as much booze as you could (not should) drink.
I was happy with my race, I felt shabby at the start but okay, 10 miles in and I was still okay but at around mile 12 I was finding it harder and harder to get a good lung full; it was sad to have to drop the pace and forget about my original 3:15 target but great to carry on and get as much fun out of the day and come in under 4 hours. It was possibly the most sociable race I’ve ever done and certainly the one where I’ve had the most hugs.
The finishing stretch was more alive than any of the big events I’ve done, so many supporters; it felt like one of the scenes from the Tour de France. I forgot all about my chest woes and stormed into the finish to a medal put around my neck and handshake from a chain wearing chap, who I assume was the mayor. The finishers t-shirt is fantastic and the medal wonderful (it’s styled on a beer pump badge).
Hopefully, it’ll be back next year (and I really hope it does). I was a great event, certainly one of my favourite road races.
Wayne Loveridge from Chard was miles ahead of the nearest runner in the half with a blistering time of 1:17:52
The full was a closer race with Bill Goozee from Isle of White in first with 2:52:42
David Lynham: 1:55:05
Julius Naim: 3:56:51