Run Anglia: How the times keep on tumbling for Darren Honour after a stellar 2018
- Credit: Archant
Darren Honour has shown himself to be one of Norfolk most improved runners in recent years as Mark Armstrong catches up with the GP series winner
Darren Honour has certainly had a year to remember.
Securing the Sportlink Grand Prix 45-49 age category title, the 49-year-old admitted this year had been a 'dream' for him.
Darren was something of a late bloomer in the sport. After running the London Marathon in 2006 in a little under four hours, he was happy to put his trainers back in the cupboard feeling as though he had done everything he wanted to in the sport.
It was only when he got a place again in 2014 that the running beast within him started to stir. It would be the start of what has been an impressive rise but not before a visit to the doctor's, which would set him on the path to continual personal bests.
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'It was a strange one but after while I was sent for MRI and CT scans and it was then discovered that I had a (benign) tumour,' he said.
'When I woke up after having it removed I just felt different.'
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Flushed full of oxygen no doubt, Gorleston parkun became Darren's vehicle for success and every time he set a new PB he would reward himself with a fry up.
It got to the stage where he was having a full English breakfast most weeks and wanting to take his running to the next level he joined Great Yarmouth Road Runners. It helped secure an impressive time of 3-21 in London after he had deferred due to the nose surgery.
But it was social media that provided the fire for him to continue chasing fast times.
As the PBs kept tumbling the 'likes' and praise from people kept coming and Darren admits he loved it, perhaps a little too much at times.
'I think everyone likes to be appreciated,' said Darren, a painter and decorator by trade, who lives in Great Yarmouth. 'I think when someone clicks a 'like' or comments, everyone likes that.
'There are people that you get to know and you want appreciation from them. If you don't get it then that's what can bring you down.
'It's a bit of a danger in social media. It can be good for you but at the same time it can work in the opposite way.
'When you can't run, you don't even want to look at Facebook – it can be so frustrating as it feels like everyone is running apart from you.
'You're looking at people finishing races on cloud nine and you're sitting there thinking 'I want to be out there'.
'But it has also got me out of a rut before because when you're coming back and getting that appreciation online it makes you want it even more so you keep going with your training.'
Darren's tumbling times were certainly worth appreciating.
After his 3-21 in London he set himself the target of going under 3-15 in 2016 and whilst he smashed this goal in Manchester, the pursuit of it left him feeling empty.
'I went through a really bad time,' he said 'My concentration was to get a 3-15 marathon but there were some things going on outside of my running that left me feeling very low.
'I felt very lonely training for Manchester and whilst I got a great time it absolutely floored me. I lost my mojo after that and I was feeling very down with life.
'Even though people were raving about what I did at Manchester, my business went to pot and I had depression.
'Work was hit and miss and it was a down period and it affected my running.'
But things were put into perspective for Darren when he helped save the life of another runner who was continuously fitting in front of him at a 10K race in Coltishall.
Darren, along with a first aider, a nurse and a doctor, who were also running the race, helped stabilise the man and Darren looks back on it as one of his proudest moments in his running career. He only wishes he knew the runner he helped save.
Darren, who by this time was running for both Bungay Black Dog Running Club and Dune Runners, had his mojo back but after a failed attempt at a sub three-hour marathon in Venice in 2017 he decided to have another go in London earlier this year.
Darren admits that the way he races is a little unorthodox. Coaches try to teach their best runners to steadily build their speed through a race so that you get negative splits.
However, Darren attacks races with the kind of competitive enthusiasm borne out of having two younger brothers that he always wanted to rise above.
It's not a strategy for the purists but no-one can deny that Darren has got results doing it.
It certainly worked in Cambridge earlier this year at the half marathon when Darren set a new personal best of 1-19:28. He then went on to post a superb 2-06:52 at the Wymondham 20 - the 12th best time in the UK this year in the 45-49 age group.
However, his strategy at London came undone when the heat got to him and he let the prospect of leading his race pen of runners scupper his race plan.
By halfway, Darren, who was at the front of his pen for a couple of miles, was done but 'no-one will take leading the London Marathon away from me,' he says and he has no regrets.
The sub three-hour marathon would have to wait but in the meantime his high mileage had the added benefit of him leading the standings at the Sportlink GP series.
The traditional marathon blues threatened to derail his campaign as the searingly quick times started to slow a little for a period, but the title was effectively secured when he blitzed his way to 36:44 at the Humpty Dumpty 10K.
'I'm just so proud to have won it,' he said. 'I've got a chest of drawers full of trophies now but this one really will take pride of place.'
As for future goals, that sub three-hour is still high up on the agenda, but moving up an age category and excelling in the GP series is also another major goal in the new year.
'I know I can do a sub three-hour marathon,' he added. 'I've just got to be patient but I can't deny I'd like to do well in the GP series again.'
2019 has a lot to live up to for Darren but not many people would back against the PBs to keep rolling in… including the holy grail of a sub three-hour marathon.