Euro Champs Marathon Report… 14/08/2010 – Dave Webb

‘I arrived in Barcelona excited about my first opportunity to represent Great Britain in major championships. I knew it was going to be a tough race both in terms of the quality of the opposition and the conditions we were likely to ensure. That said, I had a great build up, running 110-125 miles a week over the final three months and hitting all my big sessions really well.

As some of you are probably aware I finished the race in 16th place. If I was offered this position before the race I would have probably accepted given the factors mentioned above. Looking back I am pleased with the result but cannot help feeling it is a slight case of what might have been.

After 45 mins of running the heat was tough but I was feeling strong and in control. I was moving through the field well and along with Lee Merrien had entered the top 20. Unfortunately, shortly after this point I began to get stomach cramps which started to inhibit my ability to take on fluid – each time I reached a drink station and took on board any liquid the cramps got worse. Consequently, I started to reduce the amount I was drinking so that it was nothing more beyond the smallest of sips. At this stage I decided that I should throttle back a bit in the hope that this would ease the stomach ache. This led to Lee getting a gap on me but it did seem to have the desired affect. Around 20km I started to feel much better and the respite in the cramps allowed me to pick up the pace and I closed the 20 second gap Lee and established over the next 5km.

We ran together for the next 15 mins or so but I was conscious that the stomach ache was getting progressively worse and Lee began to edge ahead again. At 32km I spotted a port-a-loo and was forced to make a quick pit stop which cost me a further 30-45 secs but was unavoidable (apologies for excessive detail!!). This allowed me to pick up the pace once more but with 5 miles to go the lack of energy drinks and water that had resulted from the stomach ache caught up with me and I began to grind to a bit of a halt. This was really frustrating as I could see the top 10 not far ahead but realised that severe dehydration was going to stop me reaching these guys. At this point it became a matter of survival – each kilometre seemed to last a life time and I could really feel the sun beating down on me.

At this stage the crowd support became invaluable. It was great having so many friends scattered around the course as it was a real struggle. I lost a few positions over the final few miles but wasn’t well placed to respond as they went past. As I saw 1 km to go it felt as though my body was starting to shut down – the hearing in my left ear was starting to go and it became an effort to run in a straight line!! The finish line was a welcome site and after sitting down for a few minutes the team doctor found me and thought it would be a good idea to take me to the medical tent. The Spanish doctors tested my blood sugar and found that it was extremely low (no real surprise!!) and gave me a few highly concentrated sports drinks while I lay on a stretcher for 20 mins. I was one of many finishers suffering but came round fairly quickly and was able to join my wife and walk back to warm up and meet up with the rest of the team. All the guys performed well, especially Lee, and it was great to share war stories in the aftermath of the race!!

Hopefully my description above doesn’t make the race sound like too much of an ordeal because I can’t stress strongly enough what a fantastic experience it was. To represent Great Britain in such a big event was a real honour and the size of the crowd was a real inspiration – at certain points in the course it was like hitting a wall of sound. Running in such an environment cannot help but make you hungry for more and it was more than worth the pain!!!

My first marathon in Seville went so smoothly that I perhaps had a misperception of how hard an event like the marathon can be. Although the stomach cramps perhaps deprived me of a higher finish these things happen and I took great satisfaction in being able to tough things out in less than ideal conditions – I can now say that I feel like a the marathon runner!!

Looking ahead I will sit down and review my plans over the next couple of weeks. I am taking another 7 days off running before beginning my next training cycle but I am already excited about my next marathon. I may have only finished 16th but the race in Barcelona has certainly given me the self belief that I can compete with the best in Europe and I now want to do everything in my powers to try and qualify for World Champs next year.’