May 2, 2023

Milton Keynes Marathon Weekend

Caroline Robertson reports on the Milton Keynes marathon:

I was the sole MAC in attendance at the Milton Keynes weekend of running, plus my husband David on spectating and fun run duty with our kids. The route and event set up have changed this year so anyone who has participated before may wish to consider giving the new look event another go. I’d thoroughly recommend it.

The event hosts a 5k and 10k on Sunday and a marathon, marathon relay, half marathon and superhero fun run on bank holiday Monday. The event HQ has moved to Campbell park which hosts a permanent outdoor events venue. The large stage, full programme of entertainment all day on the Monday plus event village, all made for a real festival atmosphere.

Half and full marathon runners set off at around the same time with a slight stagger. There was one split point at around 10 miles then the two distances converged again with a further main split for each distance at the 14 mile point for marathon runners. The route is not your usual city marathon and is largely around parkland, tree lined paths, woodland and a loop around the rather beautiful Willen Lake. A brief stint along when supported residential streets made for quite an enjoyable and picturesque route. The down side to this was that unless you shot off first the narrow paths were congested and running an even pace as well as avoiding the many bollards was tricky. This wasn’t an issue for marathon runners after the split point as the field thinned out massively.

The uphill last mile finish into Campbell Park was killer but runners were met with a wall of support along the final half mile through the park to the finish gantry. Rewards included a great medal, alcohol free beer, crisps, brioche and a high quality t shirt. Bonus points from the point of view of a petite female runner for having t shirts in a ladies fit size 8! Finally a finisher t that is actually wearable!

The super hero fancy dress fun run took place not long after the main start, consisting of a one mile lap of the park. This gave spectators a chance to get kids involved in the occasion. They were also rewarded with a great themed medal. With free kids entertainment on the stage plus bouncy castles, trampolines and the large park to explore, our kids had a superb day with David while I was out on the course.

On a personal note the run didn’t quite go to plan. Turns out entering a marathon with just a few weeks to go with no training and expecting it all to go swimmingly was naïve at best. A bout of COVID didn’t help either. My 2.53 20 miler two weeks before lured me into thinking 3.50 could be on the cards. I kept up the pace until about 12 miles when for an unknown reason I started to feel queasy and struggled to get my breathing under control. I had a decision to make at the split point when running another 12 miles felt like an impossibility. Left would see me finish in a matter of minutes and right would be the long road to the full Marathon distance. A stop and a cry while I wrestled with this as my kids looked on resulted in turning right. Disappointingly, I kissed goodbye to a PB with the focus shifting to just finishing. It was a mental and physical battle and I walked on a couple of occasions for the first time ever in a race. To my relief, I made it over the line in 4.12.53.

The event was exceptionally well organised, marshalled and family friendly. Logistically it was stress free with parking minutes from the start. I’d recommend it as a great alternative to huge city events with a similar atmosphere.

Marathon winner was Alan Darby of Ely Runners in 2.30.30.

There were:
1389 marathon finishers
85 marathon relay teams
1469 half marathon finishers
367 10k finishers
691 5k finishers
And an undocumented number of fun run participants.