Maya Beach, Belize
6.2.1. End of the World (half) Marathon
Maya Beach, Belize
It was a 3.45am wake on Sunday morning in order to make the bus trip to the north part of the peninsula with the other 120 or so participants in the inaugural Placencia Marathon / Half Marathon. By 5.15am we were all on our marks and set to go.
The first five miles were “fun”. Although on the coach up, Magic FM had been playing, so I had “Life is a Rollercoaster” going round in my head. Once Mr Keating had departed, I could think about other things as the sun was beginning to rise, and palm tree shadows began to emerge along the course.
To counter the heat, the route was punctuated by volunteers passing the runners water pouches at every mile. I was thinking what the longest run I have done previously was, and guess it would be Lumley. This time, however, those doling out refreshment were much more sympathetic.
As it was the first race, there was also strong support outside of the official organisers. In response to a weary wave, all kinds of encouragement was given from locals lining the streets, which often helped. “Let’s go man!”, “Not long now!”, “Keep it up Johnnie!” (…)
I later found Johnnie who told me it was his family who had got confused, probably due to lack of sleep/ early morning darkness. About 30 minutes after our chat (in broad daylight) I was inadvertently introduced to Johnnie’s Mum when she mistook me for her son and asked if I wanted a banana.
Back to the race…
With the “fun time” a distant memory, I kept plodding along through the middle miles, nodding to the marathoners heading in the opposite direction (they were doing the stretch twice, and started at the finish line). Around mile 12, I felt a Paula Radcliffe moment may be imminent, so pushed through (or rather didn’t) for the final stretch.
At 07.02, I crossed the line in 14th place and felt almost immediately like Bambi on Ice. Kept walking around, eating bananas and drinking water for a while, before getting a massage in the main tent. One of the bonuses of finishing a bit earlier was that the queue was much shorter than later on in the morning.
Awards took place once everyone had crossed the line. There was a decent turnout from runners, families and local businesses. The demographic seemed to be half and half: USA and Belize. However it might not be the case, as many of the Americans were expats and a lot of them (including the organiser, I think) have set up shop here. They were also a lot louder, which may have skewed my count.
As one of the few (she thought) international runners, I had a quick interview with the editor of The Placencia Times after the ceremony. Once that was wrapped up, bought some cupcakes from a stall that had sprung up to raise money for a local school and waddled back to the hotel. I was gladly tucked up by 4pm and didn’t get up until morning.
Along the route, photographers were there to take some action shots of the runners. Because the only reason I came to Belize was to get a decent profile picture, this presented an opportunity not to be missed. If/ when photos are uploaded, I’ll let you be the judge. Where possible, I’ll put down at what stage in the race I’m at. It’ll soon become clear when “the fun” begins to deteriorate…