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Exeter Live Better Marathon 2021 – Race Report

I’ve been looking forward to doing this marathon as it’s been a while since I’ve raced that distance. This was to be a training run to see where my fitness was at, ready for the Cyprus Marathon in December. Here’s how it played out. The Exeter Live Better Marathon 2021 took place on the 7th of November.

Starting Smoothly… Almost

The pre-race necessities seemed straightforward  – picking up my race number was easy and thanks to a little bit of local knowledge I didn’t need to queue for the toilets or pay for parking (ask me if you want to know for next year).  I had a great time catching up with people I hadn’t seen for ages and did a nice little warmup running around parts of the course. However, on heading back to the finish to drop off my T-shirt and hoody I realised that the start was in a different location, which was further away.  I had to jog over to the right place but made it in time.

Setting a Target

I set my watch to pace me to 1:16:00 for halfway, knowing that I was looking to run it between 1:15:00-1:17:00. For the first mile, I deliberately went faster as there is a narrow bridge and I wasn’t sure what the competition was going to be like. After that, I found the pace I wanted to run, which felt strong and comfortable.Exeter Marathon RouteWe headed down to the “M” section of the course which I love and hate at the same time. I love that it goes up and down which enables you to see all the other runners and cheer each other, but I hate the very sharp turns. When you settle into a good pace you don’t want to have to slow down and then speed up again which inevitably happens with such tight corners. At 5.5 miles I had to run through a flock of waterfowl sat on the pavement – a little scary.

Half Way and Happy at Exeter Marathon

For the first half, I was on my own following the lead bike and at one point I managed to overtake her because of a sharp turn on a hill, but she soon caught me up again.  Despite the turns, I was able to keep a consistent pace and went through halfway in 1:15:05  – dead on target. In the second half, there were more people on the course as it was open to the public and not private roads or footpaths. This meant I had to zigzag a little bit through cyclists and pedestrians. From the turnaround point at 17 miles I worked out I was roughly 3 minutes ahead of the next person.

Toffee Crisp Woes and a Fight to the Finish

At some point around mile 18, my legs start to feel heavy and I became aware I wasn’t running smoothly. I tried to keep going at a reasonable pace but knew this would affect the gap behind me. With about 3 miles to go, I started to become lightheaded. I had only eaten a Toffee Crisp before the race and just water during it <Ed’s note: We’ve not heard of Toffee Crisp fuelling before. An interesting tactic>. I tried to stay focused knowing that there was just over a mile to go. Looking behind I could see the next runner not far behind and knew I was running a lot slower but I wasn’t going to give up the 1st place I’d held all the way. I checked back now and again so I didn’t have to work too hard while still maintaining a gap for the finish. When we reached the final 200m I knew I had the win. I was relieved because if we’d had another half mile or a mile and he would probably have overtaken me. I was very happy to secure another victory at the Exeter Marathon, finishing in 2:35:19. 2nd David Knapman 2:35:27 3rd Ryan Snell 2:40:56

Exeter Marathon 2021

Post Race

The finisher’s chocolate and water were my quick recovery snacks while I collected my medal and cheered in a few more people. After that it was time to pick up my medal, T-shirt and first-place trophy, have a group picture with the other podium finishers and then head home. Thank you to the team for putting this event on, all the sponsors for their support and the amazing volunteers along the route. The full results are here. Next Exeter Live Better Marathon 15 May 2022:…/exeter-live-better-marathon-2022/


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Adam Tango Holland
Adam Tango Holland
Extreme endurance runner. Completed John O’ Groats to Lands End. Multiple Guinness World Record Holder.

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