Auckland Marathon Attempt 2014

They say you reap what you sow – does that mean desperately delving into fraudulent marathon ticket behavior in the week prior to the event is setting myself up ?! maybe the writing was on the wall…

The training had gone well for me, in particular I was determined to complete the necessary long runs, which I did, and I felt confident, even relaxed about the distance. My top target was a sub 3:30 run, which would be a 24 min improvement on my injured struggle last year.

The day started well in the big red MEC bus courtesy of Admiral Ron. My plan was to run with or around the 3:30 pacer, never run below 5:00/km and see what I had left at the end. I started with Todd and Dave, toddy was grimacing in pain with a calf injury
from 2 km or so, he valiantly persisted for a couple of kms then I lost him.

The first 30 km felt like running joy, good vibes and I settled in front of the 3:30 pacer and ran at  about a 4:50-4:55 which felt great. I relished the thought of crossing the line sub 3:30 and seeing my wife and boy there to meet me. I slowly gained ground ahead of the 3:30 mob, had at least a cup of powerade/water at every station, and gels at 0:45, 1:45, 2:30 and 3:00. Met a stranger called Sam at 18 km and we ran together until about 35 km, some great chats and camaraderie, what a brother.

After not reaching 1:35 at the Onehunga half but anticipating that finish until late in the piece then finding I had more to run than expected (ended up with 1:36) I was determined to avoid the same disappointment and not find myself short in the last few kms. I gradually pulled away from the 3:30 group and it felt like money in the bank.

From the St Heliers turn I started to battle for each km. I was determined to maintain a min 5 km pace, to maintain my gap on the 3:30 pacer, no matter what. I had resolved that come hell or high water, I would cross the line before that guy. I would not face the same disappointment after all this training. From time to time I saw those yellow balloons quite far behind me and I was determined to leave them there.

At 37 km things became hard. I dreamt of finish line ecstasy if only I could maintain this pace for another 25 Mins. I was battling and things became a bit of a blur, I didn’t have remarkably fatigued legs or crazy cardio issues it was just really tough. Mentally I was in an interesting state. I tried to imagine each km like the Puriri straight, taking each at a time.

At approx 40 km I started to feel very dizzy over 50 meters or so and felt faint, then my legs started stumbling and buckling under me. I realized I was about the hit the pavement so I stumbled onto the grass (opposite downtown Countdown) and semi collapsed under a tree. A few people and other competitors came over and someone got an ambulance, it all feels like a bit of a blur to be honest. I never saw the dreaded yellow balloons of the pacer go past. I had some water and the ambos talked to me. I fessed up to being a marathon ticket fraudster when they recorded my bib number (worked a treat btw until then) and rabbled on about that for a while. They told me to stop rambling on and to their credit they said they treat everyone, they’re not worried about serving counterfeiters. They stayed with me approx 15 mins. My race was over.

A bit after they left I tried to get up but still struggled so lay back down for a bit longer. I eventually came right enough to walk to the countdown where my wife and son picked me up.

I think I was pretty dehydrated, all my long Runs abroad had been with my backpack and despite sometimes significant heat I was always very well hydrated. I should of had more gels.


(All points I probably knew but there’s nothing like an experience to lock it in!)
1. Never underestimate the beast. If you are trying to run to your limit, she can always break you.
2. Carbo loading with beers and jelly shots the afternoon /evening before is not the best strategy, also get more than 4 hrs broken sleep
3. Hydration is critical, also take a couple more gels
4. Supporters, including cheering strangers do amazing things for the soul in those tough moments
5. The struggle begins in that last 10 km, this is the Arena for battle, the separation of chaff from the wheat, the real test. Never underestimate it.
1. I took away some great lessons which is to be expected with my limited marathon running experience.
2. I had a tweaky hammy which gave me no grief at all once I settled in.
3. I loved the run, great crew and running goodness until the very end and it felt good overtaking people enroute
4. Was good to run and feel that I had nothing left in the tank, mentally, I couldn’t have given it any more

Thanks Mike for all the motivation, advice and encouragement and of course all the lads, been loving the build up!! Next time… wait for it marathon, I will have my day!!





8 thoughts on “Auckland Marathon Attempt 2014

  1. What a story! And its all true eh Thom. Good lessons you pulled out of that too. I like Brent’s suggestion of a new MEC award – the “Run till you drop” medal. I know you will be back and the balloons will be far behind when you cross the line.

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