First, my thanks go out to the organisers and volunteers for allowing me to participate in their little pub crawl. The venue was great and the small field lent itself to social interaction throughout.
I arrived early from my hotel in Shanklin due to a scheduling anomaly and once I registered I walked back to Cowes quayside to find a pre-race pint. But, no one had a license to serve before 11 am so I walked back up to the Sport Club grounds and waited out their opening time. They were serving tea, coffee and snacks but I decided to leave it till 11 to ask for a beer. And, with that purchase, my esteem was either raised or dashed depending on the co-participant’s attitude. Strange: it was like I had gone much farther from England than the 20 minute ferry ride.
At the starting gate, I stripped off my disposable old clothes (sweats that have become threadbare) and cranked up the GPS in my phone a few minutes before the start, taking my place in the crowd. I didn’t do the excessive pre-scouting of pubs that I have in the past; rather, I planned on stopping at every licensed facility I came across, bar none.
The first was the Sportsman’s Rest, a nice little pub with a rude and completely incompetent bartender (hence my long layover–more than ten minutes here). Next up, we passed (or, THEY passed) the New Inn which was much more efficient and completely nonplussed by my stop. Not much farther along the way the Horse and Groom loomed and after service I stepped out to heckle my compatriots for the first time.
We turned onto an old rail bed and soon we came up on the old station for Yarmouth, or part of Yarmouth, which is now the Off The Rails bar and restaurant. I yelled up to some diners on the platform, “is this place licensed?” then, to drown out their laughter, I repeated, “no, really, do they serve adult beverages?” Served by bemused staff, once again, I went back out and heckled the other runners while I enjoyed my bottle on the platform.
There was a long stretch after that along the riverside and through quiet lanes back almost all the way to Cowes (with no new pubs, although we passed the Sportsman’s and the New Inn again) then the path split off and we started up a long and (at that stage in the game) steep incline that housed, off to the right and nearly at the top, the Traveler’s Joy. It was a truly welcome respite, indeed.
With something less than 2 miles left, I eschewed further interaction with my compatriots (for the most part) and focused on finishing in under four hours. Which I did (just barely). It was then I realised how nackered I actually was. I’ve had worse leg cramps, mind, but these came all at once despite my aforementioned carb, nutrient and fluid regimen.
Spectacular organisation in this race, really, and the small and friendly field and the lovely refreshments I found along the way were just a bonus. If I were going to repeat a marathon, this would be one of my top choices. But, now I am qualified for the Ultramarathons I have planned for next year.