Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Marathon Globetrotters Reunion on Jersey

One week after the Berlin Marathon, Scot and I ran the Jersey Marathon on the UK Channel Island of Jersey, located off the coast of France. This was the 2nd reunion of the Marathon Globetrotters (MG). According to MG rules, Jersey counts as a "country" because it is a distinct geographical and political entity. In fact, each UK country or territory counts as a unique "country" for MG purposes. By these rules, Jersey was Scot's MG qualifying race, allowing him to join the club as a provisional, or non-voting member. For me, it was my 7th MG "country".

The decision to stay in Europe after Berlin was an easy one, knowing we could run another marathon the following week and see many of our MG friends. After Berlin, we flew to London, spending a few nights there and also visiting Dover, Salisbury and nearby Stonehenge. Then we flew to Jersey for the weekend; it was a short flight from Gatwick Airport.

My favorite photo from our stop at Stonehenge

The bus ride from the Jersey airport provided a nice tour of part of the island, and I recognized part of the route the following day during the marathon. We took the bus directly to the packet pick-up, which was near the hotel where most of the Globetrotters were staying. We quickly got our packets, and then headed to the MG meeting. During the meeting there were elections for the upcoming year's officers (I will be the new Director of Publicity!), and a discussion about the location for the next reunion (no decisions made). There was some other club business, and then a photo.

At the Marathon Globetrotters meeting

After the meeting most of us walked back over the the race start/finish area and attended the pasta dinner. It wasn't the most exciting meal, but the main thing was to enjoy the company of our friends, and meet some of the Globetrotters whom we didn't know. After dinner, Scot and I took a taxi to our hotel; it wasn't that far, but we still had all our luggage, and it was dark, so we chose not to walk. Unfortunately, I chose to save a few pounds by selecting a hotel that was not adjacent to the start/finish area for the race. I'm not sure it was worth it, given the cost of taxis that we used twice, and the fact that all our friends were at the other hotel. Oh well...it was too late, so we made the best of it.

Some of the MG crew and Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo at the pasta dinner
Race morning looked a little gloomy and the forecast was for rain, but the question was: when would the rain start? We hoped it would hold out until after the race. We walked to the race village instead of taking a taxi in the morning and I got there just in time for the MG group photo, and some other pre-race photos with friends.



MG pre-race pics

Selfie with Scot before the start; he wore his New Jersey Marathon shirt in "Old" Jersey (Caren photo bombed us)
With Anders before the start

There were a good number of runners for an island of this size. Many of them would be running the marathon relay. I think there was also a short fun run, but there was not a half marathon. Several of the runners (mostly relay runners) were dressed in costume, and I think there was an official costume contest with prizes.

The start corrals; many of those runners were in the relay

The race started out running through the town of St. Helier. We wound through some of the streets in the business district, and then we started a long ascent past a reservoir where some people were fishing. The uphill was pretty much constant for several miles. It was not easy, and it was a little disheartening for the faster relay runners to constantly pass me. I think the longest relay leg was about 10K, so these runners had much fresher legs.

The streets in town were narrow; that's Eddie the Barefoot Bandito on the left
Several of us Globetrotters in St. Helier

We ran along the reservoir while the civilians fished

A common view out in the country

Eventually the course leveled off. After the major ascent, there were still some rolling hills, but they weren't as bad. But by then I was already tired. I don't do well with so much uphill. And I was also weary from running Berlin the previous week and then doing a lot of sightseeing on foot in England. I knew I didn't need to worry about a course time limit, so I took it easy. The course was completely different than the urban setting in Berlin. In Jersey, aside from the first part in town, we ran through farmland and quaint villages for most of the course. We also ran around part of the perimeter of the airport, and then through a really beautiful running and bike trail. The good news was that the trail was a slight downhill grade.

Not halfway enough for me

At the airport; note the control tower in the background

After about Mile 20 I was mentally done. I kept going by sheer willpower. The weather had been nice for most of the race, but by now it was getting cooler, or at least it felt cooler because there was now a strong wind. I ran part of this section with fellow Globetrotters Kevin and Caren.

Caren (left background) and Kevin (right foreground) in the final 10K or so with me

This really was a beautiful trail

Selfie with the La Corbière Lighthouse off-shore

Finally, I made it to the bay. The course would border the ocean and then finish back in St. Helier. This should have been a very beautiful and refreshing leg of the course. Unfortunately, the weather was gloomy (the rain was getting closer), and there was a very strong headwind for the last three miles on the bay. When I had about a half mile to go, Scot came back and found me and came in with me. Kevin and Caren were not far behind.

View from the last three miles on the bay

I was so happy to be done! My feet were killing me! This is a new thing for me this fall: my feet and ankles have been in a lot of pain while running marathons, but they feel better the next day (mostly better, that is). All I wanted was to get off my feet and to get a post race beer. I collected my goody bag (which included our finisher shirt, our medal, a Mars Bar and our food and drink tickets) and the sweatshirt that I had left at bag check. It was nice to put on something warm. I sat inside the tent with some of the other Globetrotters, off my feet, and feeling relieved. They had run out of beer, but there was still cider, so I had that. I also had my post-race meal: a veggie burger made from beets and either goat or feta cheese. It was wonderful to be at a race that had good food for finishers, including an excellent vegetarian option. That beet burger and cider, and the chair I was sitting on, made my afternoon!

Happily quaffing my cider with Eddie, Anders, Scot (and his Mars Bar) and Kevin

In the finish tent with Kevin, the new MG President

MG finishers

After saying goodbye to our friends, Scot and I took another taxi to our hotel. I was in too much pain to walk, and the rain had started by then, even though it was still just a sprinkle. We made tentative plans to meet up with the group for dinner. But after our showers, it was dark and raining more heavily. And Scot pretty much passed out. We were not going anywhere. But I was hungry, and our hotel had three different restaurants. I went down to the Italian restaurant and enjoyed some ravioli and red wine. The serving was large enough for me to bring some back up the the room for Scot. I also stopped at the New Jersey shore themed restaurant and picked up milkshakes.

The next morning we were up early and off to the Jersey airport to fly back to Gatwick. From Gatwick we transferred to Heathrow, and then we flew home. It was unfortunate that we didn't have more time for sightseeing on Jersey, but I think we made the right decision to spend that time in London instead. Jersey was a very picturesque island, giving me the feeling of it being a cross between the French riviera and the English countryside. It's definitely worth a visit, but summertime would be better, if you're not planning to run the marathon.

We covered much of the island during the marathon; my GPS died early, but the race ended back at the same location as the start

And speaking of the marathon, I found it to be very well-organized, but with a few things I didn't like. First, there was no food at all on the course. I always take my own gels or chews, so I was OK, but there should be fruit or a gel station, or something, about halfway through. Also, this race, like many European races, gave away water and Powerade in full bottles. It's more than anyone can or should drink at one time, and much of it goes to waste. The water bottles were fairly small, but the Powerade bottles were large and I found several of them discarded along the course with runners only having drank a very small amount. At the very least, they should use smaller Powerade bottles. Otherwise, race logistics were good, even if there weren't many spectators.

4 comments:

  1. I wish I could have been there.

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    1. You were missed. I hope you'll be able to do this race another year. The course was beautiful and it was well-managed.

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