Sunday 4 December 2005
My last marathon of 2005 was in Barbados. This was combined with a one week holiday with my wife and mother-in-law.
We arrived in Barbados on Friday so I only had two days to acclimatise. Temperatures were in the 80's and the humidity was high.
I had pre-registered on the internet some time ago but I had to collect my race pack on the Saturday. This was located south of Bridgetown and directions on the website were not great. However, after some running about I eventually found the registration area.
There was a Run Barbados 10k race being staged on Saturday afternoon but I decided to give it a miss though a 6 mile pre marathon warm-up is generally not out of the question - but perhaps on this occasion I was warmed up enough!
Start - 5am Barbados Grantley Adams Airport. I am not the best morning person when it comes to running marathons and I did wonder why the race had to start so early. However, this question was answered later that morning when temperatures hit 90oF.
The time difference between the UK and Barbados was 4 hours so my body clock was 9am - therefore this worked well in my favour and I felt relatively fresh. My wife had driven me the three or four miles from our apartment to the start that was right outside the airport arrivals area. There were only 70 runners running the race so the start area was fairly relaxed. I had taken on plenty of fluids and temperatures were probably at the coolest at around 75°F!!
At the start line I met Sarah Williams, a colleague from the Metropolitan Police who I had seen at other police races in the UK. Sarah ended up running a great race coming 2nd lady overall. It was nice to see a familiar face at the start of what turned out to be one of the toughest marathons races I had ever done.
Marathon legend Hugh Jones started the race reminding everyone of the late changes to the course due to road-works. Just after 5am we were off - into the pitch dark with only the occasional nearby Christmas displays to light our way.
The humidity was high and the air was warm. We ran along the main highway from the airport for the first five miles. Dawn started to break around 5.30 and in the Caribbean, the sun rises quickly. So the sky was quickly becoming light.
With only 70 runners in the race the field soon became sparse and at one point I had only the company of a police outrider. About 5.45 I got taken short, perhaps too much fluid - not a bad thing. I therefore shot into some nearby undergrowth. Unknown to me the police outrider had noticed my disappearance and returned to investigate - I think he must have thought I had collapsed but nevertheless, a very kindly gesture from my Bajan colleague! The rider stopped his bike close to where I was so I gestured to him from the undergrowth that I was OK. However, when the rider came to restart is motorbike the battery was flat. Feeling guilty at having caused him to stop in the first place, I offered him a push start. There I was legging it down the Bridgetown highway pushing this big Harley. In a plume of smoke the bike started and away he went into the distance. I did question at this point, "What on earth am I doing here!!"
The capital, Bridgetown was the half way point and by 7 am the streets were packed with local people. Many were cheering along the runners but others were going to or from Church. The local people rise early in Barbados probably for reasons I was to learn an hour later when the sun was high in the sky.
By 8 am it was warm and I would say it was well into the 80's. This was now a game of survival. The drinks stations were every mile so good water intake was crucial.
There were three shower points on the course that I took good advantage of. Some runners just ran through but I took a minute out to stand and cool my body well. It paid off as some of those other runners were struggling towards the finish, clearly suffering in the 90°F.
The organisers provided a "Run Barbados" nylon scarf that I put to good use around my neck regularly soaking it in water. This cooled the blood to the head. I also wore a hat and had already coated myself well with Factor 15. Running through the shadows was also a good tactic. These were long in the early sun and predominiantly cast from the right. I often ran on the opposite side of the road to keep in shadow - every little helped!
I met an American, Michael from Philadelphia, who was out jogging around the 20 miles mark. We chatted and his company was welcome during these last few miles. Michael was a marathon runner but hadn't realised the race was on during his stay on the Island. We parted at 23 miles as he had to get back to his hotel for breakfast.
All the tactics and contingency measures paid off and despite this being one of the toughest marathons I had done in terms of heat and humidity, I felt good through to the finish crossing the finish line in 3 hours 45 minutes - 19th place overall.
This was not my fastest marathon but given the conditions I was pleased with my time and overall performance. I quick cool-off in the Caribbean Sea was a welcome finish and it was only 9 am!!
That evening we attended a well organised presentation dinner at the Plantation Garden Theatre near Bridgetown. The prize giving went on a bit but all in all a great evening, entertained by a steel band and a superb cabaret with some amazing stilt-men dancers.
2005 Results - pdf document
Thinking of Running the Barbados marathon?
Marathon Score Ratings
Registration - 8/10
Start/Finish - 8/10
Course - 9/10
Registration - 5/10
Start/Finish - 8/10
Course - 7/10
Recommended - 8/10
XL Airways Flights - Manchester - Barbados - £360
Self catering 2 bed/2 bathroom villa close to the beach - £250 pp pw
Marathon Entry Fee - £30
Presentation Evening Dinner - £12
Run Barbados Marathon
Inchcape Seaside Villas - Recommended
Contact: Steve Broadbent