Sarah Coombes, Trustee of Flat Friends UK, reports on her recent marathon of a marathon in Brighton…

“Soooo… I’d managed a few 10k races in the past, and raised money for various charities – but then I became a trustee of Flat Friends UK, and felt that I needed to up the stakes. Around the time of my last 10k, the London Marathon ballot opened… I wasn’t lucky enough to get a place, there is no priority given to those entering the ballot to run for a charity, and only some charities can afford to spend the large amounts of money needed to buy charity places from the organisers. SO – I ended up in Brighton on Sunday 9th April in my FFUK technical vest, at the start of a 26.2mile course with 12,000 other runners. Hello the Brighton Marathon 🙂

There were more hills than I had trained for! I live in notoriously-flat Norfolk, so my race plan was to just walk up any and every incline. I was also used to running along a prom and on pavements, so I also had to adjust to dodging potholes along Brighton’s roads. In training I had been taking on fluids and energy gel every 1-1.5 hours, but this weekend there was an unseasonal heatwave so I had to start using every water station…until they ran out of cups around the 10 mile mark that is! By now it was over 2 degrees *C and there were long lengths of the course with no spectators – and running on my own made it twice as hard to keep going. I confess there was probably more walking than running at this point.

Then the course wound its way back into town; water stations started just giving us the bottles of water, and the crowds got exponentially larger and louder! My favourite moments were when people had set up speakers along the route so I could pick up my pace to Earth, Wind and Fire or Black Eyed Peas; and children were handing out jelly babies (I had to stick to my energy gels and medjool dates as jelly babies aren’t vegan though)!

I remember passing the halfway mark, but somewhere after the 13-miles marker one of those pesky potholes caught me out and I went over on my ankle. Cue St John’s Ambulance who took my trainer off, I said I was fine, put my trainer back on and carried on (it was a welcome sit in the shade though!). I don’t remember many markers after that; a lot of the route is neither scenic nor memorable. But another couple of hours later and I was on the seafront and the piers in the distance marking where the finish line was, gradually got closer. The noise in the final couple of miles was deafening, and it’s amazing how the roar of the crowd makes you want to push harder…even though your body has nothing more to give and you basically speed-limp across the line, arms aloft!

I crossed the line at 5hrs 22mins. My timing tag and I must have parted ways after my stumble, as no-one who was following me online knew that I had finished. Driving the four hours home I had to watch a worried conversation between the FFUK admins wondering what had happened to me and if they may be paying me a visit in hospital!

I was feeling a little smug thinking I had survived a marathon unscathed, until I got home and took my running leggings off and discovered some impressive sunburnt legs. Then the next morning I woke up, barely able to move! I also discovered that my thin post-chemo hair had left my scalp exposed and burnt. But at least my anti-blister socks worked 🙂

A week later, my hips are still sore, my scalp is now peeling, but I have so far raised nearly £800 for Flat Friends UK.

Was it worth it? Absolutely!
Would I do it again? Never!”

You can still donate and help Sarah reach £1000 at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/sarah4flatfriends