Your First Marathon.

The stages of your 1st marathon (humorous look at how it feels to race them/ what to expect)!

Your First Marathon:

The night before: You’ve got this. You’ve trained, you’re prepared. Pasta, you think. You must have pasta. You spoon fusilli into your face, reminding yourself that every spoonful is equivalent to 30 seconds off your marathon time. 54 spoonfuls later, you’re excited to collect that comically enormous winner’s cheque at the end of your race.

You head to bed absurdly early, and lie there, wide awake, wondering if 40 gels will be sufficient to get round the course.

10pm: You add an extra couple of gels to your belt - “just in case”

The morning of: It is absolutely impossible that your alarm can already be going off. You step out of bed gingerly, carefully testing the legs. Thankfully, a night of sleeping doesn’t seem to have injured them. This must be how it feels to be a professional athlete.

Arriving at the race: Oh thank the lord, everyone else here looks equally terrified. At least, that’s what you assume, judging from the queues outside the toilets.

5 mins before the race begins: One last wee, and then you’re on the start line. Or at least, in its general vicinity. “Can’t believe we’ve paid to do this”, the runner next to you giggles. You resolve to run at whatever speed is necessary to beat him.

The first mile: This is great! You’re having an amazing time! Marathons are brilliant!

The 10th mile: This could not be worse and everything is hateful.

When you spot your friends: Why do people ever fight? Friendship is the key to everything. You resolve to share your winner’s cheque with your pals, who you now realise are the most magnificent creatures you’ve ever met. You spend the next mile composing effusive haikus to everyone who shouted your name and waved wildly. They are gods among men.

The bit before the next water station: It is impossible that these water stations are correctly positioned. Terribly unfair that this one is 1000 miles away from the last, rather than equally spaced as promised. You don’t remember signing up for the Marathon Des Sables...Oh look, there it is.

Trying your first gel: Golly this is horrid.

3 mins after trying your first gel: My goodness, sugar is nectar of the gods. Is this a second wind? This feels like a second wind.

You reach 16 miles/ the length of your longest training run: This step, this very step- this is the longest you’ve ever run. You are a running machine. You are unstoppable. You should quit your job and become a professional runner.

Why is a marathon 26.2 miles? You blame the Greeks. Didn’t the messenger die, also? Who wants to commemorate that?!

Last 2 miles: Only 2 miles? Why does it feel like 40? There must be something wrong with your watch/ the course markers/ everyone who is still running without a glare of furious anger across their face...

Finish: This is the most glorious moment of your entire life. Not only can you can stop running, but you’re being handed a medal and everyone is cheering for you. Marathons, who wouldn’t do one? This is what life is made of. In fact, when can you do another?

By Lucy Karsten, Find your next challenge. We’ve scoured the country for the best endurance events. Whatever your level of fitness or preferred sport, we’ve got something to let you get out there, and do something epic.