4 to go trail marathon - This one counts as none

This was a fucking farce. The race was short by 1.5 miles and thier "8" water stations were actually only 3. There was no water after 16 miles. I decided not to take a water pack because of all this water that was going to be there. I felt quite ill towards the end (in fairness the hangover didn't help but that is beside the point). I saw 3 ambulances at the start, they probably needed all of them. I heard later it was the same last year. Some people should not be allowed to organise races.

Anyway, rant over for a while. There were plenty of good things about this race.

This was another one that I decided to do with a big hangover. It was a friends birthday the night before so I stayed out in Islington till gone midnight and staggered home via some "chicken" place. I felt quite good in the morning but my stomach was not happy. I was exposed as I had no imodium. This could have been messy.

Running week in week out can bring lots of pleasant little surprises. As I ran onto the train at Liverpool St today having not read the engineering works I found that I knew 6 people in the carriage. At least I knew that I was not getting lost on the way to the start.

The start was very well organised and we were told of a "special guest" starter. I forgot her name (400m gold in the Olympics) however we were informed that she was running late and the start would have to be delayed by 20 minutes for her to start the race. We all decided that we should start on time and leave her in her cab.

The reason the start had to be bang on 10 was that we crossed a train track early on. The race would go really wrong if the train had turned up early, however that is always unlikely.

The course was a really nice change from what I'd run on before. It was all river towpath but really flat and well maintained along the river Lea. The markings were good and there were marshalls at the few road crossings. I ran the first half with Nick which was strange as I normally don't like running with people. We passed halfway at about 1.35 and I decided that I needed to get rid of the "chicken" and chips of the night before (in fact it was that morning). Out of nowhere came a toilet bang on half way that was a blessing. I'm always reminded of the scene in Trainspotting where no matter how filthy the toilet is the fact that a toilet is there is life saving. I spent many minutes on it.

The route was actually a joy to run. I can't believe that there is such a long stretch of wide track that is traffic free right near London. This race could potentially support many more runners. It was really windy and blowing straight into my face. I'd never really ran in such wind before for long periods. It was drying my mouth and making me thirsty.

Nick had long gone when I emerged and I set about trying to catch him. I overtook several runners and it took a few miles before I could see Nick in the distance. He was keeping up a really good pace and I ran out of steam a bit and ran at the same pace. I was thirsty and was hoping for the next water stop.

At 16 miles there was some water and I assumed that from then on there will be at least 2 more. I carried on and at this point I could actually see London, the Gherkin and Tower 42. At 20 miles I asked the marshalls where the next water was and they didn't know. One held up 4 fingers to say 4 miles I assumed. Seemed silly to have a water station at 24 miles and I hoped that it would be before then.

I water station was in fact before then at about 22 miles, however it consisted of a table and an empty drum with "High 5" on it. There was no one connected to the race there apart from myself and another runner. We asked someone sat down whether this empty drum was part of the race we were in and he had no idea. It appeared they intended to put a water station there and they did, only without any water or people.

I dehydrated more and more and slowed accordingly. Nick was pulling far away from me and was soon out of sight. He was doing really well at keeping a steady but fast pace and was well on for a pb. I overtook 3 runners who seemed to be struggling with the lack of water more than I was. No attempt was made to laugh it off as it wasn't funny anymore.

I entered the fields of Hackney Marshes and realised that the end was soon. I had 24.5 miles on my Garmin and figured that we may be doing some loop of the park and then going for the finish. I was shocked then when a marshal stood at a corner pointed me towards a finish line. I do recall seeing an arrow to the left of him that was pointing left and would have involved some extra distance. Was he pointing me to the finish early because they realised that they fucked up the water thing and were afraid of having an accident on their hands.

The final distance was 24.7 in 3.14. I was pleased with a fast paced long run but not at all pleased with the event. Thankfully the finish had drinks. I didn't spend much time at the finish, I just got on a bus to the nearest tube station. At least the journey home was going to be easy.

This was supposed to be marathon number 49 for me and tomorrow will be the 50 mark. I'd become a "wanabee" of the 100 Marathon club and perhaps could sing Bon Jovi for a fortnight until my next race. I have decided not to count this one as a marathon, though it would be recognised by the 100 club. It would feel like cheating.

It was a shame because this race has the potential of being a really good event. The path was perfect with plenty of room for runners and supporters. The first mile is always tricky in any event like this but that could be overcome and this could be massive by the time the Olympics came. I doubt it will now, I have heard similar stories of last year and this year that would put anyone off an event.

This is what I emailed to the organisers:

Never complained about a race before but yesterday was pretty poor. I won't be doing the "3 to go" or any subsequent races and hope the those who organised this are not in any way involved with organising events for the Olympics. We could do without the whole world seeing things like this. I shall also be advising my extensive list of regular marathon runners to avoid this one, particularly as it falls on the same weekend as the Clarendon Marathon which is a superbly organised race.

I counted 3 of the 6 promised water stops. I decided at the start not to take a water pack with me as 6 water stops would be sufficient. The last one I saw was at 16 miles. I suffered towards the end as I had to run 10 miles without water and was dehydrated. I am an experienced runner and was at no point in danger, however I overtook several runners who appeared to be struggling with it more than I was. I feared for those runners who would take 5-6 hours to do this. 2+ hours is a long time to go without water. I didn't even want to think about what it would have been like if last weeks warm weather had been repeated. I don't think those 2 ambulances I saw at the start would have been enough.

I don't normally like to run a "short" race, however I was pleased to see the finish line after only 24.7 miles (several others with gps watches will confirm this). It meant I didn't have to choke another 1.5 miles. However when I passed the finish line I met with several people who were annoyed that what could have been a marathon personal best for them counts as nothing. I would advise (for the integrity of the Marathon distance and all those involved in it) that you measure out a proper 26.2 miles or replace the word "marathon" in your race title with something else such as "run".

I just returned from the Clarendon Marathon really pleased with having done a very challenging but rewarding and well organised event. I'd hate to think that someone out there chose yesterday over today. Clarendon was going to be a celebration of my 50th marathon, however it only represents my 49th as I'm not counting this farce.

Awaiting reply.....