‘So, how far is it once more?’ – How to organise a marathon | Life and magnificence


My title is Andy Palmer and I personal White Star Running. We organise path occasions, from one-mile youngsters’ races as much as marathons and past. These are a number of the questions we are sometimes requested.

How will we plan a brand new race?
A marathon is 26 miles and 385 yards. Well, highway marathons are that distance, as most are formally measured. But for those who organise a path race, issues develop into a bit extra versatile. That actual distance may be very tough to realize if you’re operating over rights of manner, nationwide trails, hills, mountains paths, by way of streams, over stiles and across the stunning British countryside. Generally, the off-road world fortunately accepts that path operating isn’t an actual science, and trusts race organisers to be shut sufficient. However, woe betide the race that comes up beneath the 26.2-mile distance – folks need over, not underneath. More miles on your entry charge is an efficient factor. We have a tendency to make use of the time period “ish” for our race: 26.2-miles-ish, 1/2 marathon-ish. It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card when the “marathon” is an additional mile or 2.

How do you resolve the place to begin?
The first, and essentially the most mundane, factor we’ve to think about when route planning is, “Have we got enough parking for all the runners?” That’s earlier than we have a look at any routes. Then we want a good space for the beginning/end, protected routes out and in of the world, entry to water, shelter – and dozens of different issues. All races want base camp. So as soon as we’ve a base, we get the Ordnance Survey maps out and the enjoyable actually begins.

We search for main roads that we have to keep away from, protected routes to run and whether or not we have to cross personal land. We ask ourselves, “Would we want to run here?” Dorset and Wiltshire are smashing; it’s guess that it’s going to be scenic, and good views are a extremely good promoting level.

Arrows mark the way through a field. Laying out the signage can take days, and a couple of teams

Arrows mark the best way by way of a area. Laying out the signage can take days, and a few groups Photograph: White Star Running

Once we’ve an concept of a race route and HQ, we ask the all-important questions: “How far do we want to run?” “Are we creating a marathon or ultra marathon?” “Can we create a half or 10k or 10-mile race?” ‘Can we arrange support stations simply?” “Can the ambulances and medics get to people?”

So, now we’ve the kernel of a race route. Next we ask, “What time of year?” We maintain plenty of races in the summertime and it’s again to that mundane situation once more: parking. Finding laborious standing within the countryside for 1,000 automobiles is tough in January. We are fortunate that the races we do maintain in winter – at Larmer Tree Gardens in Wiltshire and the Tank Museum, in Bovington, Dorset – have entry to dry parking.

How do you measure the routes and mark them?
With all that in place, we then have to get out and test the routes. We have walked and run our race routes many instances, and have seen many elements of the nation solely a hardened rambler would see. We then measure them, primarily with GPS watches and on-line mapping.

We create a race plan with directional signage (a wood stake within the floor and arrow pointing, hopefully, in the suitable route). Our path races have a tendency to not have mile markers, as they’re laborious to put out; 1 particular person’s mile 5 is continuously another person’s 5.3 or 4.8. We go on foot to put out the signage – this could take days. The Larmer races, for instance, take 2 groups 3 days to signpost.

How do you’re employed out the logistics for every runner?
We place support stations roughly 4 miles aside. We use clear water containers and recyclable plastic cups as an alternative of bottles, to chop down on waste. As a rule of thumb, we’ve 3 cups of water for every runner; on a scorching day possibly extra; our water containers maintain 75 cups of water. For a race of 500 runners, we would wish 10 20-litre water containers for each support station. With 5 to seven support stations, that’s plenty of water to maneuver.

During the Giants Head marathon final yr we used 1,200 litres of water, 9kg jelly infants, 6kg of jelly beans, 1,500 gels, 100 litres of flat cola, 4 bottles of selfmade blackberry vodka, 12 big watermelons, 4 dozen oranges, 66 pints of our native brewery’s beer, 66 pints of Dorset cider, 13 family-size packs of pretzels, 9 big packs of crisps, 63 packs of Jaffa Cakes and 600 parts of cake.

‘Keep mooo-ving … don’t mind me.’

‘Keep mooo-ving … don’t thoughts me.’ Photograph: Oktay Ortakcioglu/Getty Images

What are the obstacles?
It’s not simple operating within the countryside. We work with the farming group and attempt to match our races in with them. At a race this yr, a involved farmer rang me up at 6am: “Morning Andy. Dave has escaped; we are dealing with it.” Dave is an enormous British White bull. A herd of cows had determined to flee from their area, and seeing them stroll previous his area, Dave determined to hitch them by demolishing a barbed-wire fence. Unfortunately, Dave and his harem had been now at mile 19 of our race, and the primary runners had been as a result of arrive at 10.30am. They managed to tempt Dave out of the sector at 10.15am.

At the Larmer races final yr, a tree fell down on the race route. Time for a fast Plan B; we frantically re-routed earlier than the farmer who owned the land referred to as to inform us he had shifted the tree out of the best way for us. So it was again on to the re-routed bit– again to Plan A.

We re-routed the Ox 1/2 marathon and located a hill we referred to as MOAH – the Mother of All Hills. MOAH is so steep that even the sheep stroll round it. We made 400 runners go up it. They thanked us … form of.

When I wrote the race directions for the Bovington races, which takes place on tank-training floor, I needed to inform the runners to not choose up something that appeared as if it may explode … And on the primary yr of the Ox races, we needed to re-route the extremely marathon the day earlier than the race, as flooding had created puddles 100ft lengthy and 4ft deep. We must delay the beginning of the Invader races yearly as a result of everybody wish to take pictures of themselves dressed as Romans.

Trail operating is nice.

(Editor references)

Leave a Reply