The Brighton marathon, the UK's second largest after London, was my first British marathon, coming just two weeks after my last race in Georgia. After all the travelling I've done over the past 10 months, a short jaunt by train proved to be a nice change of pace.
The very high level of air pollution in the South East - caused by a perfect storm of dust from the Sahara and emissions from Europe mixing with British pollution - had all would-be marathoners rather vexed. But this cleared away in the nick of time, leaving runners to fret over the rain and strong winds forecast.
Paula Radcliffe started the race, high-fiving hundreds of us runners as we poured across the start line. Setting off under leaden skies at a cool nine degrees, we headed off into the centre of town before advancing east along the coast. There are a few miles where you go inland but otherwise it's a pleasant route and mostly flat.
I joined a four hour pace group led by a gentleman of advanced years, adorned in a luminous orange vest and bandana. This was the first time I'd tried such an alliance and most of the race was a blur to me as I remained firmly focused on the pace maker. Running as part of a pace group went quite smoothly. I'm grateful for the camaraderie they provided and I'm sure this helped spur me on.
During the middle section of the race we had the wind in our faces, blowing from the south west at a brisk 14 miles an hour but the rain managed to hold off. And at times, the course became narrow and we all got squashed together, although this did allow me to use the other runners as wind breaks.
We had a strong tail wind for the last five miles and I decided to break away from the pace group at mile 24 and ran by myself through a massed corridor of thousands of spectators along the promenade.
My shin held up and the anxiety that had plagued me in Atlanta didn't return. I felt confident throughout and finished the race quite strongly, crossing the finish line close to Brighton Pier in 3 hours and 54 minutes, heralding a return to form for me. To donate, please visit
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