White smoke, white lace… Now I have a race

So now it’s real. Sunday 29th September 2013. Robin Hood Marathon, Nottingham.

I’m strongly aware that many people are close to their spring marathon and either in the excruciating taper phase (Paris, Brighton) or final peak of training (London). Somehow, that just adds an even sharper focus to my Autumn Marathon, now that it is confirmed.

The full 26.2 at last year’s Robin Hood had been cancelled due (they said) to flood-defence works along the Trent. I had been brewing my own conspiracy theory that they may take the opportunity to drop the full-marathon event in future and just stick with the Half, fun-run and corporate-relay events. And my suspicions were only reinforced as time passed and no decision or announcement was made… even more so as there was silence in response to my tweets in recent weeks.

Happy to say: I Wuz Rong!

There may have been times when I have been happier to be wrong, but I can’t call a recent one to mind. (Well, apart from “Now Lizzie, as your father it is my solemn duty to prepare you for Leeds Utd being embarassingly ripped apart by Premier League Spurs and that Welsh goblin wizard Bale…”. Erm, actually, come to think of it, I am so often wrong that there are loads of examples… But I digress.)

It was Notts-in-exile @dannyc30 who first tipped me off via twitter. And then there it was, confirmed by @RobinHoodHalf. The full-marathon is back on. A few emails and calls to the organisers Sweatshop, and they confirmed that my injury-deferred place from last year could be rolled over, without my having to make up the difference in entry-fee. Kerching!!…another early contribution to my charities. It follows that your solemn duty upon reading this is now to go to Sweatshop and buy something.


Nottingham is my original home-town, and family and work still take me there. I have run the Robin Hood event eeveryday since I first became a proper runner in 1994, apart from two due to injury: in 2009 and last year. That is, fifteen half-marathons, and two full. Whatever other events I may do, there is always something very special in my heart about RH, the autumn chill along the Trent, the leaves falling in Wollaton Park; and yes, even – having run it over so many years – my own times getting slower. Autumn; TARS.

White Lace, Half & Full

White Lace, Half & Full

My PB for Half Marathon is at Robin Hood, 1:27:15 in 1999. Also my Marathon PB, 3:12:47 in 2001. But the two years I have missed also count for as much.

That weekend, “Robin Hood Weekend”, is one around which the year revolves. Like Goose Fair, first full weekend in October.

By the way: you do know why he was called Robin Hood, don’t you? It’s because he didn’t want his true identity to be revealed, so when he went out stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, he used to disguise himself, wearing a special cloak so no-one could recognise him. Yes, he put on his……. Robbing Hood. At least that’s what I tell my kids.


So now instead of an autumn-marathon-yet-to-be-confirmed, I have the Robin Hood Full Marathon, 29th September 2013. The fact that it is now fixed and definite makes a huge difference: in my runs in the last week or so I have had a new focus, new (old, special, treasured) images of the different stages of the race and the big yellow clock at the end. They don’t give out a lace panel any more, but it’s still special to me. Once I knew my entry was confirmed, an hour’s run in the frost and crunchy mud of the woods and I had already daydreamed twitter runners converging and meeting up there, special friends staying over, an evening in the Trip to Jerusalem with a little music by Claire and Dave, all sorts of unlikely goings-on…

They haven’t published the course yet: that can follow, I know it will start and finish on the Embankment. By a cruel irony I stayed in Nottingham the week before last years event, injured and with the traffic notices out taunting me. I went out and walked/jogged slowly from the hotel… further than I should have, but it was Nottingham, RH week, and I wanted to get down to the Embankment. It was so beautiful in the evening sunshine, and I tweeted a pic and good wishes for anyone racing at the weekend.



Robin Hood Marathon

I will never forget the first time I did the full distance there after many Halves, and turned right on the Embankment. “Marathon Keep right!! Half Marathon left… Marathon Keep right!!” A word of encouragement from the marshalls as they filtered the numbers on the vests; glances (did I imagine it, or were some of them admiring, envious or wondering “maybe, next year”?) and shouts of encouragement from the people keeping left. Not me, not that time. I had nearly burst into tears as I crossed the Trent, had to talk to myself out loud for quite a while, and was nearly at County Hall before I calmed down and restored a proper rythym.

I know it intimately, however much they may tinker with the course (which hasn’t passed my Dad’s bank in many years). I know the early start; I know the empty M1; I know the expected but still alarming sudden funnel of traffic at Clifton Bridge; I know the stress-inducing delay queueing to park; I know the tea-stalls and merchandising tent; I know the announcers voice on the PA, saying how many years this has been going and how many people are taking part; I know the plentiful urinals and smile at the stunning simple queue-busting genius of a half-pipe runing off into an open drain; I know the jog-stride-sprint-jog-stretch and how many trees I need to go up the curve of the river and back to warm up – more, these days; and especially I relish the final pee into the Trent (may I formally apologise at this point to 18-years-worth of rowers and people in the flats opposite… sorry, but its my ritual, its my Robin Hood).
And I know – I will never forget – how that pretty girl didn’t mind in September 2001 when, stinking of 26.2 miles, I kissed her and said “A red one! Wow!” as she handed me my lace panel. I think she saw how much it meant.

Robin Hood Marathon. It matters; a lot. Sunday 29th September, 2013.

Now, I just have to get to the start line.

17 years... And counting

17 years… And counting

Week 10 Index

Runs 4; Long 10; Other 3

Body: OK, feeling strong. Must remember TARS and protect my body.

Spirits: It’s Robin Hood, and now that I know that it makes a surprising difference. It’s real. Still a long way to go so I cant say better than 50/50, but very positive.

I have started to take active steps on the charities, with a post for Grief Encounter, and a few tweets for b-eat this week:  from April I plan to start to push RTs from people with large followings.

It’s Robin Hood!


About johntleeds

In amongst the perpetual juggling of work, family and things on my mind, this is MY time, MY escape. Any this is what my mind comes up with when it has time to wonder, as I wander on the trails... twitter @johntleeds
This entry was posted in Fundraising, Running. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to White smoke, white lace… Now I have a race

  1. dannyc30 says:

    Great read ! Thanks for sharing your special memories John ! And that river bank still makes me think of my old man sitting there fishing with me ! I’m looking forward to seeing you there !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s