Saturday, 11 June 2011

Marathon Trail Run - Solo running...

Bloody hell that was hard work!
26.2miles over what can only be described as "hills". According to the Great God Garmin there was 3.957ft of elevation gain, which strikes me as quite frankly a daft way to spend your Saturday. Perhaps Mrs.W was correct this morning when rather giving me a peck on the cheek and wishing me luck, she said "You're mad!"

This was my second attempt at a Trail-Blaze run and having reached the desired checkpoint #5, just beyond 24miles, in 5hr5mins I staggered a further 2miles to the local station to bring up the magic 26.2miles in 5:29:00, which I'm jolly-well happy with.  Given the topography, I reckon that's a pretty decent time - especially as it was a solo run, just me versus the elements.

There was nobody to cajole me onwards and the only incentive I had to really up the pace was around 22miles when a dog tried its damnedest to eat me!

'Twas hard work, but by golly was it worth it!

Run Report: 
The elevation gain doesn't lie, the route started with an immediate 500ft climb leaving you with this view to the rear, which as you can is worth a quick glance over the shoulder...
 ...from there on its undulating beauty as you head out to Birling Gap then take on the might of the "Seven Sisters" who in reality are no fun at all. The Beachy Head Trail Marathon has these beauties in the final few miles, which must be hell on earth as trying to tackle them 4miles into a run is bloody hard work...
...with the first big bunch of hills finished it was then a lovely "gentle" run towards the picturesque village of Alfriston at around the 10mile mark, passing first through a pretty wood then along a meandering river into the village itself, had to stop briefly at a bench to remove my shoe coz I'd finally got pissed off by the foreign object that was under my sole. 

Figured it was a small stone, but turned out to be 4 safety pins from last weekend's race...what a pillock! Needless to say it was considerably more comfortable running without pins in your feet...
...leaving Alfriston life got difficult again with an absolute bugger of a climb from the village leading into what became a steady 700ft climb over the next 3miles. Needless to say pace dropped at this point and the legs began to really feel the impact of the first 10miles plus last Sunday's Trail Half Marathon race. For the next 3hours I listened to MarathonTalk, running solo I'd have been mentally fried on my own, and there's nothing like listening to Tom and Martin's account of their 85km Comrade Marathon, which put my own "tiny" run into context and forced me ever-onwards. 

The scenery becomes far more rugged, still beautiful but just not in a cuddly way...this is much more "I'm gonna break you beauty, eat you alive, then spit out the bones" and its just goes on and on and on for f$cking miles with no respite...
...dropping down to the village of Southease at least gives you something different to look at, but if you blink you'll miss it. Was sorely tempted to stop on the village green where the sort of village fete that you only get in tiny English villages was in full-throw for a spot of afternoon tea, but at around 18miles if I'd stopped for scones, jam and cream I'd have never got going again...although that might not have been a bad thing!
Had to run up a really long concrete path, dodging about 50 middle aged mountain bikers who were all flying down it, as I staggered upwards. Running this in trail shoes after 20odd miles was extremely uncomfortable. Bizarre geeky fact, in the field just beyond that gate is a sign marking the Greenwich Meridian, so I'd just passed from the Eastern to the Western Hemisphere. You might not give a toss about that, but it's the sort of geeky tit-bit of knowledge that I quite enjoy...(which probably offers some alarming insights into what its like to be me!). 

Thankfully the top of this path brought me to where I'd taken a wrong turn before, on the right track this time it was now just a question of getting through the final few miles in one piece, which was easy said than done with a sudden torrential gale-force downpour while high on a hill-top followed by the psychopathic tiny annoying dog who kept trying to eat me, while his owner did nothing! Not surprisingly my serene "basking in nature psyche" was interrupted momentarily in a flurry of expletives directed first at the dog then the owner. Oops! But they deserved ever last "bleep"!

Finally got to the checkpoint at Housedean Farm, thought long and hard about aiming for the next location 5miles away at Ditchling Beacon, but legs were toast at this point and thought "sod it!" this'll do, no way I could have run over more hills. I know that seems lame, but after all those hills the idea of heading up another monster for the next 5miles was just too much. Endured a painful final 2miles on pavements which just ain't fun in trail shoes then Falmer Station reared into view and the adventure was sadly/gladly over. 

Would love to say I'd ran ever step of those 26.2miles, but with topography like that it just wasn't going to happen. Some may say power-walking up some those hills doesn't count as a run, but it'll do for me. Thankfully, I managed to drag myself to the final step in under 5hrs30mins, which although I had no time target at the start is a nice mark to duck under. 

Got home to a blessedly empty house, had a nice bath, covered myself liberally in DeepHeat and settled down to watch Octopussy...nice! the start of the year my plan was to run my first ever 2 marathons this year, I've done the Brighton Marathon and have Osaka in a few months, but I've now also done 2 solo trail marathon-distance runs so I'm quite happy with that performance in the last 4weeks. Now its the end of crazy solo-adventures and soon back to regime-running as I train for Osaka in October, and I can't wait!

Distance: 26.2miles
Elevation Gain: 3.957ft
Lowest elevation: -31ft (bizarre given the hilly topography of the run)
Time: 5:29:00.27
Images: borrowed from Google


  1. OMG that is an achievement - all on your own, well done!