Clarendon Story from Dave Wright

I ran the first Clarendon marathon because the originator/organiser (Paul Elderkin) was a keen hash house harrier - I hope everyone has heard of them (just Google hash house harriers if not). Every week on our hash runs, Paul would be flashing his entry forms around persuading people to enter. He would even turn up at events like the Grizzly or London Marathon to hand out entry forms.

The first race was in 1998, and as with all the first 10 races we started from the King Alfred College sports ground in Winchester. Paul would dress up as a bishop and do an oratory from the balcony to all the assembled runners before the start.

Back then, the race headed off along roads through Winchester, with runners having to stop in groups for the marshals to let them across the busy roads safely. However, once we approached Farley Mount the fast runners went off into the distance and the route was very similar to the current one (but just in reverse).

In 1999, the route used paths and footpaths out of Winchester, including a nice stretch across the golf course near Oliver's Battery (I don't remember seeing any irate golfers!) which was obviously nicer for the runners, but a lot more work for the organisers to mark the route. On this occasion, and despite the best efforts of the organisers, one of the direction arrows near Broughton (around half way) fell over. This saw the four leading runners heading off towards Andover in completely the wrong direction. At this stage I was in 5th place, but having run the route the previous year I realised their error and took the correct path. I didn't see another runner for the next 13 miles and was first to cross the line in 2hrs 59mins. I pointed out to the marshals that I felt the route markings were not all that good, but most runners managed to find their way to the finish at Wyvern College.

In subsequent years, to ensure runners didn't go the wrong way again, and in true hash house harriers style, coloured flour (to avoid confusion with the white chalky soil in places) was used to mark the route. This required a lot of work for the many volunteers on the Saturday before the race and prayers for good weather to prevent the flour being washed away by heavy rain. I can't remember any times when it actually rained during the event.

There was one occasion where water did affect the race. It was the only year we finished at the leisure centre in Salisbury, and it had been very wet leading up to the race. The route used many subways and back streets of Salisbury on its way to the finish. Apart from a little sweat, we had remained nice and dry for the first 25 miles, but then ended up running (swimming!) through waist-deep floods just before the finish.







Here's a summary of my results:
1998 - 9th - 3:37
1999 - 1st - 2:59
2000 - 5th - 3:05
2001 - 4th - 3:04
2002 - 3rd - 3:06
2003 - 4th - 3:02
2004 - 7th - 3:04
2005 - 54th - 3:42 (Knee operation in April. Resumed training late August.)
2006 - 37th - 3:48
2007 - 19th - 3:22
2008 - 17th - 3:31
2009 - 8th - 3:10
2010 - 6th - 3:12
2011 - Clarendon not held this year
2012 - 9th - 3:19
2013 - 65th - 3:56
2014 - 24th - 3:28

I always look forward to the next time, and if I hadn't gained two children and many niggly injuries I would train a little harder and try to get back to below three hours. I really enjoy chatting to the other runners and telling them what they can look forward to on the route - viewpoints, hills, villages, etc.

My 13-year-old son is keen to run a marathon when he's old enough. Hopefully we can run together, although I suspect he'll probably beat me even if he's only 17.

Dave Wright  (hash name Dwight) Newbury AC and Berkshire Hash House Harriers