This event was advertised as 'challenging'. I can tell you it is BRUTAL!
I arrived with plenty of time before the start and I have to say the organisation of the whole event was top drawer. I left the car, and was promptly marshalled onto a bus to take me to the main entrance, where we were greeted by friendly staff, who processed us without having to wait.
The changing areas were plush, with separate areas for men and women, both for the half and the full marathon. Adequate seating areas, and good security rounded off a good start to the day.
A short walk to the start line and to my surprise I was not the only person wearing Vibrams. We got chatting while the others participated in the accustomed warm up exercises. Next thing I knew the gun had gone and we were off.
In true 'challenging' Eden Project style, the first 300 metres were up hill, back to the car parks. The rain was lashing down and the strong winds did nothing to ease the transition. We soon left the road and heading onto a single track covered in mud. This pretty much sets the scene of the whole race. Rain, Wind, mud, slurry, rocks, you name it, it was in abundance.
I knew I was expecting some hills on the course, but nothing I had done in training prepared me for the onslaught of continuous hill climbing in the first 13 miles. It seemed that around every corner was another hill, just as steep, and just as muddy. At about 9km we had reached the highest point and we were meant to be able to see both coast lines of Cornwall, but all I could see was cloud. At the half way stage I took stock and checked my form and did a quick health check. My legs were fine, but I had a slight tightness in the chest. I couldn't quite figure out what it was, so I just carried on.
The second half of the marathon used more of the roads around the area, but then came the hills again. By mile 18 I was really feeling the effects of the tight chest. I found it increasingly difficult to draw breath and get the oxygen in. But in true male fashion, I just ignored it and plodded on, ignoring all the signs that my body could be in melt down.
Mile 20 came and went and I thought at this time I would hit the dreaded 'wall'. I have no idea if I did or not, but I had reverted to walking up the hills now to try and save what little energy I had left. At this point any hope I had of reaching my goal time was well and truly out of the window, and my aim was to finish.
The chest pains had got worst, but my legs were still working, although my pace had suffered. The run back down to the finish was painful, but I tried to smile as I crossed the line. At that point I really didn't care where I came, or what my time was. It was only when I got home that I found out my official time from a text message from a parent of the school I was running for.
I am glad that I took part in the event, but would I do it again? Not for a long time. I think I will look at some other marathons first before I put myself through that level of torture again. I have to say though that I am so pleased I did it, and it is testament to Vibram for making a cracking shoe. I know that it wasn't really designed for the purpose, and maybe I should have invested in a pair of Vibram Treks, as they have more grip. I just need to pop my five fingers in the wash now and see it they survive.