Dan Owen came over from America to run the Clarendon

Runner profile: Dan Owen

Number of Clarendon events completed: One (2015 - full marathon)

Running the Clarendon Marathon last year was an absolute dream. Stunning day, magnificent landscape and a beautiful course replete with fantastic spirit and the best volunteers imaginable.

This was the first of what I am sure will be more Clarendon’s – the immediate conviction after that slog up the hysterical steep final hill and round to the school grounds in Winchester was firmly putting this on the calendar for next year and a determination to up the US based contingent of runners.

I came over from Washington, DC along with a few friends in tow. I was born in London and near Salisbury was very much part of my growing up, so this was akin to a homecoming, treading familiar countryside (though never traversed this route from Salisbury to Winchester before), the real “forever England”…My friend Martin had recently lost his mother who was living in Salisbury and this also served as a memorial run and a chance to fundraise for the Alzheimer’s Society in her memory. And it was a first marathon for Elisabeth and for Andrew.

It has to be said, there have got to be easier ways of getting to the finish line! Our collective upside down on the training began at Thanksgiving the previous year with a horrific incident in which Martin was run over by a car in Washington DC whilst crossing a road (equivalent of a zebra crossing) on his way home, leaving him with a serious injury. Then we had an unfortunate men versus boys footie match at an Independence Day barbecue three months before the marathon. All the boys were skipping and dancing; the men fell to pieces. I broke a toe having come worse off in a tackle with my eleven year old son.

I came to England with my family in the summer and ran the half at the Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 with toe lovingly taped up by my wife (Lisa), and altogether that run was a rather sobering experience. I managed to get the toe back in order and then had a slip on a trail run near home, spraining an ankle. By the time October came around, it had been months since I’d run further than five miles, but there was no way Clarendon was not going to happen. I bought the compression socks for some extra ankle compression, more taping, switched to the earlier start knowing that if all else failed, running until the gas tank was empty or the bones and ligaments surrendered, and walking the rest would be an option.

But the vibe and the utterly blissful sensation of this outstandingly well-organised and picture-perfect marathon was sufficient to put limbs and tissues in order. Heading off on the early start meant during the first half of the course there were many stretches where I was alone, mesmerised by the lie of the land, the woods I was running through, the coverts and coppices, plucking blackberries from bushes along the way.

Hitting Broughton and the half marathon starters, and sudden growing numbers, felt like a move from wilderness to metropolis. Fatigue came in waves, but the sheer exhilaration of the course, the camaradie, the humour and encouragement were in ample supply, and the alluring spectre of the post-race massage, a pint, stories to share with family across the pond and lasting memories made this an unforgettable day.