Mark Tanner - Adventurer, Writer and Amateur Beatboxer

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23 years old and naive, I set off in the middle of Canada's barbaric winter perched on a woolskin seat-cover peddling solo from one side of Canada to the other...

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Marathoning Mark

5 May 1999

 

So there I was, wide awake, and alive with anticipation, at 4:30 am on the Sunday morning of the big race. Trying to make a last ditch effort to fully hydrate, leaving enough time to piddle it all out before the ridiculously early 7am start. After a nutritious breakfast of weird runner stuff, and a last ditch effort to watch the rest of the Academy Award winning, yet extremely crappy movie, Chariots of Fire, I was all set to go, with the running laces double-knotted and the race number, 1285, securely pinned to the front of my sexy, Shaggy Yak, running singlet.

 

It had all come down to this day, and in a matter of hours it would be all over. A perfectly timed, unseasonably cold front had hit the city, and rain was responsible for the wet roads under foot. The temperature was fluctuating at around a balmy 6 degrees. I had not prepared for the wintery conditions, and only sported a short pair of shorts and a tank top for the mammoth run. I was obviously showing a bit of nipple.

 

The lead up had been great. The night before had been a classic evening, with all our marathoning friends. A big pasta meal was enjoyed by all. It was great sitting around with a room full of athletes, all doing the same as us amateurs the next day. The previous few days in the Net Nanny office had been very unproductive, with the office getting right behind the cause. One girl in the office had offered me a 1 ½ footer meatball sub and cookies, another had offered Egyptian smorgasbord, a guy offered me a couple of sundaes, but best of all was Net Nanny, who were going to pay for us to go to Boston, if we qualified in under 3:10.

 

Down at the start line, the buildup was intense. I was feeling great. The race was delayed 20 minutes, and just before the starting gun, a downpour started, saturating the competitors. It didn't dampen too many spirits, as shortly after the 'loud bang', myself and three running companions, Les, Colin and Sirge, were pounding the pavements ready for the huge run ahead of us.

 

Things were feeling very good, as we pounded our way around the grueling course like warriors through the rain. I was right on schedule, running a kilometre every 4 ½ minutes, having the run of my life. I was loving every minute of it, making a bit of noise and hoopla. We soldiered on, enjoying all of the sites that the Vancouver had on offer.

 

Things were going very good, and although we lost Les just before the half way mark, we were setting a rivoting pace, right on track for Boston. And then, just after the 32 km marker, with less than 10km to go, BANG! I hit the wall. It hit me like a sledge hammer. All of a sudden, after running pretty well for the first 3/4s, I couldn't keep up the pace, the legs felt really weird, and my head was blurred. It was quite a wicked, yet humbling experience. I didn't stop, but my pace dropped right down, and I just plodded along with only the end in sight. Just before the last bridge to cross, and the final 3000m, I saw a buddy from work who earged me on, and gave me some great encouragement, getting me over the line in just sub-3:30, at 3:29.32. I was happy with my time, as I then realized that I was pretty unrealistic wanting to go to Boston this time.

 

The run felt bloody good, even when I was really hurting, I loved it. It was a character building experience.

 

The next morning, after sleeping in, it took me a few attempts to get out of bed. The legs were aching. Things are starting to come right now, after limping around the streets of downtown Vancouver, like a weathered old man, I am finally starting to negotiate stairs forwards when going down, and there doesn't seem to be any sign of a limp anymore. Well worth while.

 

Me trying my best around the Vancouver Marathon circuit

 

 

 

 

 

 


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