BRIGHTON MARATHON



Just over 19,000 entrants signed up for this years 9th Brighton Marathon. The most popular to date! 

Today is my 8th time at Brighton, as last year I decided against running after the South Downs Way 50 Mile was the previous day! 

This year like two years ago it is a week apart, so I treated this week as a rest week and to hope that my legs and body have recovered well enough to reach the finish safely and injury free! 


Bumping into Shawn ‘my running brother from another mother’ 



Just a few thousand runners waiting in the Red Pen to start




I can see the 3:30 Pacer ballons just ahead. 


09:45 The Start

Myself and Sunday are lucky to have Helen as our support and driver this morning. Helen has run many Brighton Marathons, but sadly her knee has been playing up since a previous event, so has decided it not wise to run today and will be at the finish instead for us both...


We get to Preston Park in good time and make our way to the bag drop trucks. 

We wish each other good luck here as there is going to be no way, with all the crowds we will find each other afterwards. 

I am using a red number today instead of the white elite I have been invited to. 

I feel that after the South Downs 50 last week I will not know how today is going to turn out. I will not be racing this one hard like I usually do! 



Mile 11. Just passing the Marina on our way back to The Pier 


I catch up, by chance with Shawn, whilst waiting in the red pen starting area. He is looking very lean and ready to race today to his best. It is good to catch him, as with so many competitors I didn’t think we would see each other before starting. 

Brighton is good for the switch back areas on the route. So you always get points to see other running friends going past...

After a delay of nearly five minutes from the gun fire, I go past the starting line and the tracker bleeps my chip time has begun. 



Just reaching the halfway point 13.1 Miles


I spot a few familiar running friends from the ‘100 Marathon Club’ and then I even get noticed with my spidey outfit and mask on!.... damn! I of all times I only run a marathon in a mask.... I get spotted out the crowds!

It must be my beard and the give away running shuffle I have adopted since I started barefoot training all that time ago!.... 

Spidey asjustments 


I get a little caught up with all the excitement around Preston Park, the loud cheering crowds and shouting out for Spiderman! 

Once at The Dome, three miles in and the first water stop, I make sure to keep an eye on my pace as the first two 7:15min/mile were little quicker than I should be going if I want my legs to stay strong and fresh for much longer. 

I really don’t know how my legs will hold up after the South Downs last weekend. 



Mile 14. Seeing the folks on Church Road. 


After the section out to Ovingdean with many more crowds, then cheers out for 'Go Spiderman' the miles just fly by...

A few more water stops and waving as I pass friends Lucy, Mark, Steve, Tina and John supporting at Susssex Square.

I manage to catch Sunday running past in the other direction, and I wave as I pass. He is looking good and very comfortable, which is nice assurance...

Before I know it I am approaching the Pier again with a huge uproar of cheering from the big crowds that have congrigated here, then live music to egg me on, giving me a super Spidey boost...

I have lost count how many 'hi fives' I have given passing this wall of amazing support along the Kings Road...


Once heading up onto The Drive, into Hove, on Church Road, the crowds of support does not dissapoint, as usual, just like previous years!


I see Mum and Dad at their usual spot taking pics and looking out for me.






Mile 19. Photo taken by Donna cheering me along 


Once reaching 16 miles and switching back again down Church Road,  I take a Salt Stick capsule, as now I am starting to warm up, and to keep up pace, I may need the salt levels back up again...

Just after the King Alfred's I see Donna at the road side cheering me along, she has her 10k medal on and is beaming! It is so good seeing all these faces along the way as it helps me to focus on breaking up the route and then passes the time quicker, knowing I will be seeing a friendly face soon.


Mile 24. Photo taken by Nik Bailey at the water stop



Once I head on up to the power station, I can feel my pace starting to slip as my legs begin to fatigue! I focus on who I recogniose infront of me and then passing on the otherside the road.


What is intertesting.... I am starting to overtake those that shot off fast at the start. They are either slowing, walking, running with an uncomfortable jerk or stopping to rub down a cramp....


I pray that isn't me later on...


Once we head back down the same road again, onwards to the finish. This is it, the last three mile stretch all the way along the promenade for the final enjoyment and torture!


I have some jelly babies that are handed to me, some more water before trying my bloody hardest to excelerate further.... I know I have this... so far no cramping or body fatique is going to stop me!


I feel so euphoric and able to finish this one strong!


Once at Hove Lawns I spot Nik Bailey at the water station, she is taking a pic of me and is looking so excited... another much needed boost to get to the finish.




Another surprise visit, which is Mum and Dad this time, they have headed over from Hove, to the seafront to catch me again.

At one point near the West Pier I can feel a cramp about to start on my calf. I slow a little and just really hope it doesn't until I get to the finish at least...

Back on the road and greeted with roaring cheers and 'come on Spidey', then high five slapping, I am almost there...



Spidey coming in at the finish to chanting crowds! 


This is the hardest part of any marathon race! so near... yet so far!


I can only let the crowds of support help get me there. The live broadcaster is singing out 'Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can' as I pass the Pier and onto the last leg and with the finish line insight..





I am so ready to reach the finish now. Thumbs up is such an effort...



Out of the entire race, why does this feel like the longest road ever ...

Almost there Spiderman! 



It helps to not watch the clock ahead...



Finally relief reaching the finish line 


I catch a glimpse of the clock above at 3hours 17minutes. Although this is not a fastest or best Brighton Marathon for me, it is a welomed surprise, after last week running the 50 and just getting my fitness back on track again!


I am so chuffed and relieved that I reached without cramp or injury this year!



Bling! Brighton Number Eight completed. 


This is now my eighth Brighton completed and such a shame I have a missing medal from last year, but I am so grateful I can finish this strong and feeling good...

Will I run next year?! It is very debateable as I love Brighton Marathon much as it was always my first, but it has got so commercial now and I didn't realise how much until I experienced the start at Preston Park this morning. 

I love my off road running too much to make Brighton an 'A' race and acheive a personal best, as I have broke my sub 3hour time at Edinburgh and London already... years ago....

It is good to run a marathon that is so familiar and friendly but when your goals and running passions are elsewhere it is time to lay Brighton to rest and come back again, another year perhaps, but not next year...



No PB today, but after last weeks Ultra I will take this unexpected result...




Thank you Brighton! We love you!

Ultra Luke

SOUTH DOWNS WAY 50



The sixth edition of the Centurion South Downs Way 50 trail race. A point to point route from Worthing to Eastbourne taking in Chanctonbury, Truleigh Hill, Devils Dyke, Clayton Windmills, Ditchling Beacon, Beddingham Hill, Firle Beacon, Alfriston and Jevington. Today will be my 3rd attempt at this most popular event, for the start of the Centurion Ultra season. 

After the South Downs Way 100 of  June last year, I have not run any races since. Ankle tendon injuries that have returned on and off throughout my endurance  and long distance events, was more reason to take a break. 

We finally purchased our first home together and moved in August, then in October followed by a death in the family, training and racing was not my first priority. 

It wasn’t until the new year and March I really got my passion and training slowly back on track and decided that Sdw50 will be a good indication and test how the winter training and my body can cope after the time away!....




This event always draws in many locals, many from afar too! 388 runners have arrived for the start today...

I was lucky to have John and his wife pick me up for the start in Worthing. I had already pick my number up last night after kit check with Mark, so was ready to start with no last minute rush. 

I started with my usual race breakfast of bulletproof coffee’ and an avocado. I am very fat adapted so this will keep me fuelled for many hours before I need to eat again. 

We eat a very much ketogenic diet at home. 

We have been following a ‘no sugar no grain’ approach since summer 2014. It is similar to a high fat low carbohydrates lifestyle, which really helps with our energy levels and endurance. 


Graham, Steve, John, myself, Kevin, Mark and Nick


Once arriving we soon bump into running family and close friends. Everyone is excited and upbeat, if just a little nervous too! 

With plenty of time to catch up, the minutes fly by and we are encouraged to head over to the sports field for the race briefing. 

The weather is mild and should reach 12C with quite a strong breeze and just some light rain predicted. Luckily the short shower has passed and it looks to stay dry for the start.

After some starting photos with the gang and good luck wishes, we listen to James for the briefing and details of the day..

Once he finishes we have only seconds before a sudden start and we are all off down the field to cheers and clapping...


Findon. Just before reaching the South Downs Way. 5 Miles 


08:30
The start takes the footpath track uphill, leading towards Chanctonbury and Cissbury Ring, but we do not reach this for five miles yet... 

Some runners are speeding up the hill, others are pacing themselves by walking the climb. The short rain shower has softened the chalk but not to any mud worth worrying about. 

I get comfortable in my pace, trying to not look at my Fenix3 and running on feel. I enjoy the views through Findon Valley and take in the familiar route. 



Heading to the ‘Pig Farm’ just before Botolphs. 9 Miles


Once meeting the South Downs Way trail the course will stay on this path, until the last two miles of the race. 

Heading down towards Botolphs and the River Adur I see a friendly supporter on the path. I realise it’s local running friend Rachael cheering us along. I pull my buff down so she can spot me, she jumps over to give me a big good luck hug and kiss. 

Such a power boost and always good to see her out supporting or running herself. 


Botolphs. The 10 Mile finger post. Just 40 left to go...


10:13

Mile 11
Botolphs Aid Station One
Number checked and tracker scanned from my race bib as I pass the marshals. I open up my portable plastic cup (mandatory kit) ready for some water, before thanking the team and waiting for clear traffic to cross the A283 near Upper Beeding. 


Finding my strong... Stuart March Photography

I finish my water and power walk the next climb up towards Beeding Hill. This gives me a chance to message my crew. My fiancĂ© Sunday, sister Samantha, Mum and Dad will be meeting me later at Ditchling Beacon. 


Just leaving Botolphs check point and heading to Truleigh Hill


After hiking up Beeding Hill and onto Truleigh Hill I start to run again and reduce my pace as I’ve been averaging 8:30/45min/mile so far. I’m feeling good but would like to stay strong and fresh in my legs for the climbs much later on...

Hikers l, walkers and cyclists are all out enjoying the downs with us! Cheering and supporting as we pass.

Big crowds greet us at Devils Dyke and then at Saddlescombe I spot Mark Wavell and good friend Shawn ‘my running brother from another mother’. I am so in the zone, so I shout over hello, grinning  and wave to them both before heading into the next aid station.



11:04
Mile 17

Saddlescombe Aid Station Two
I have a cup of water then half/half coke and water for a little sugar and caffeine lift. I take a few nuts to nibble on my way out and power walk/hike up the next climb.

I am not quite hungry to want to eat too much, the bulletproof is still fuelling me nicely, but I just wanted something to keep me fat burning efficiently enough. 

A Ninja feeling the strong winds. Ditchling Beacon 22 Miles 


The miles tick away nicely and I am really enjoying the route on my home turf and the old training ground when I lived in Patcham. 

Soon enough I reach Ditchling Beacon and many more supporters are out along the trail. I spot my sister taking pictures and then at the gate Mum, Dad and Sunday are waiting to greet me. 

Perfect timing for a quick refuel stop! 



After a quick graze and hello I’m off again...


They explain the car park was closed off, parking half a mile further down Ditchling Road and walk up to meet me. They only just made it in time! 

I sip on some coconut water, have some peanut butter and then some olives. Odd mixture but for me at this stage, salty and sweet, it all tastes good and grazing works best for me. 

Little and often, works well when I am running, then a sugar trickle now and again. Coffee kick is always good but Mum left it in the car....



Looking to the Lower Downs. 23 Miles 


The next few miles fly by as I make my way down to Housedean Farm. I am now well over halfway and been running for four hours. I have to stop myself from flying too fast downhill to the next Aid Station, and on the approach the team and marshals see me coming to log my number.


12:38

Mile 26
Housedean Farm Aid Station Three 
Once reaching the crew here, they refill my water bladder, whilst I sip diluted coke from my disposable cup. I nibble on some cherry tomatoes, nuts and get some chunks of cheese to go, as I don't eat the bread whilst running.


I thank everyone and make my way over the road and onto the track. Text Sunday that I have just left, finish the coke and then start running again.



I am ready for some distraction of the next climb and some music in my ears! iPod is out for some beats...

Heading towards the ‘Yellow Brick Road’ 28 Miles


The steep climb up towards Castle Hill is a long and steady incline, runnable but I decide to power walk/hike as I am feeling warmer and my legs are starting to fatigue a little now...


The short break helps my body on the flatter section, my buff comes up again as the headwind is stronger and exposed at the top. I run a slower pace until reaching the 'Yellow brick road'.


This long wide concrete section heading to Southease, has a dusty sand colour, so my running friends nicknamed it the 'Yellow brick road' many years ago, and it has always stayed in my mind as this from that moment on..


My legs get a second wind on the downhill passed Stud Farm and for this section over to River Ouse and the railway crossing into Southease. This is the next checkpoint.



13:51

Mile 34
Southease Aid Station Three
Once over the crossing and up the track to the barn where the Aid Station is set up, I feel strong again and buzzed to feel this good at this stage. I recognise Lisa who is crewing here and catch up with her as I eat a few nuts and sip on diluted coke again. 

Tina, Tracey and Steve have just arrived to support. Sadly Steve had to call it a day as his knee was really playing up after Saddlescombe. It is such a shame but a wise decision, considering he has had ongoing troubles with it for a while now. 

I hug and thank everyone before making my way over the bridge and the track up the next steep climb towards Bow Peep and Firle Beacon.


‘Enough Photography now, laters’ 39 Miles at Firle


Firle Beacon 


Still feeling strong as the miles tick by and I enjoy the flat, downhill leg into Alfriston. Supporters are dotted along the track as I approach residential houses and then the village.


The marshals guide me over the road at the High Street and then down the alley to the Town Hall.



14:58
Mile 41.5
Alfriston Aid Station Four
The familiar set up inside has that cosy and welcoming feel to it, just like I remember it.


The team help me to refill my water and I sip on diluted coke again as I graze on some nuts and cherry tomatoes. I still have a chunk of that cheese left in my pocket...


James Elson (RD) is here in his running gear, which looks like he is stopping for a bite himself on a training run perhaps. It is good to see him and he is pleased to see me back again and at this stage, without any of the usual injuries. I am grateful my ankles and knees have not started playing up like they have been known to by now..


I thank everyone and make my way out down the path and over the bridge, remembering to the follow the SDW for Jevington and the Centurion markers.



Alfriston, climb towards Jevington. 43 Miles





This long climb out of Alfriston, towards Jevington and back up the top ridge of the downs, is a long and steady incline. Runnable on the chalky terrain but more of a hike/jog with dull ache in my quads at this point. 


Good excuse to take a few pictures of the amazing views and changing landscape from above!



I see that I am doing good for time and wonder if I can reach Eastbourne in 8hours? I wasn't expecting to be so on form like this, especially this close to the end....


Feeling it now. 43.5 Miles 


The wind picks up at the top and out on open downs. I can enjoy the flatter terrain and keep a steady 8:30min/mile average, picking up pace as I reach the downhill section into the woods. 


My remix tunes are kicking in and the endorphins are sky high, I feel a sense of euphoria and that I am running on air...


I spot marshals further ahead by the church in Jevington. I see once closer it is Louise. I didn't recognise her, her hair has grown much since I last saw her at an event. She logs my number and tells me I am looking strong and doing so great...


15:41

Mile 45.5
Jevington Aid Station Five
Big cheesy grin, I head through the graveyard, down the steps, crossing the road to the village hall. Alma is marshalling here and is just as surprised to see me as I am her. 

We exchange hugs and I apologise for not being able to stop, as I am focused and buzzed to just reach the finish now...

It is really good to see my crew Mum back again after a break away.


Less than 5 miles to go...

I follow the markers down the street and rejoin the SDW heavy stoned track for the last big climb to the trig point. This is where the route will divert off the SDW and take a footpath down into Eastbourne. 

I meet up with a few other runners during the climb, that have also started walking up this very steep section. We exchange well done vibes as I pass. 


The final mile...


After the long climb up to the top and then a marshal greeting me to guide me the right direction for the footpath to the left. I am grateful and keen to head downhill and make it to the finish now. The track is rutted, stoned, with plenty of tree roots, like I remember well from last year. 

Without much rain lately it is still dry, runnable enough, with good visibility below to see the ground and my footing. 

A few trips and almost flying on my face, I soon reach the residential road, then the next right turn marked, taking a hidden permissive track behind Rattan housing estate and reaching Willingdon road.


Just one lap of the track to the finish...


I follow the marker over the road after a long wait to cross then make my way down Park Lane and to Kings drive, which will take me to the finish. 

I have a jelly baby for some sugar boost and try my best to focus on a gap in the road to cross safely. I just reach the other side and can feel my right hamstring about to cramp, so slow down my pace and give it a massage. 

I really hope it doesn't cramp as this is the worst possible timing!



16:16

The Finish
Eastbourne Sports Park
After what feels like forever on too much road, the long winding cycle path that leads to the sports park. The last two miles I have manages, some how to run 7:55 and 7:35min/mile, the fastest if the day!

I am a so pleased to finally see the finish and hear all the supporters, friends and family waiting at the track. 



Finished... 7hrs 46 in 16th Place of 388 Runners.  


I make my way through the gates and spot Sunday, Mum, Dad and Sam cheering as I come through. I make my way to the centre of the track to run my last lap until meeting the finish line!


So good to make it and as I glance at the live time I see I managed to reach the finish in under 8hours after all...


That’s another South Downs Way 50 completed and injury free! 


For having an absence from injury, work, buying our first home and a few over obstacles in the way over last autumn and winter, I am so chuffed to have run today strong and on how I felt.


This has to be one of my most enjoyable 50 Milers completed today! No stress and just running free...

The Finish with my Crew (Mum, Dad, Sis and Sunday) Stuart March Photography



After I collect my medal and tee, meet the family and pick up my finish bag. I freshen up and catch up with Lucy, Steve, Tina and my family to hear all about their day. They were spot on with logistics and catching me at the right moments along the route...


Shawn texts me to congratulate me and tell me I reached 16th position overall. I can't quite believe how well today went and that everything fell into place so smoothly.


The bling! 


After eating one of the bbq sausage baps provided by the team and then a coffee, we head on outside to meet John and Mark who finish in awesome times.

A personal best for John and Mark finishes his first South Downs Way 50! 


The South Downs Way route


Finishers Tee and Medal


Many thanks to all the Centurion team, volunteers and those out supporting today. Big thank you to all my friends and running friends for all their encouragement and well wishes. 

Huge thank you to my family and Sunday for being the greatest crew today and for superb timing and logistics to be at the right place at the right time! love you guys!


Ultra Luke 

RIVER ARUN MARATHON

 

This will be the fourth edition of the River Arun Marathon from Sussex Trail events and my third attempt. 2015 was my best time but my worst experience with suffering heatstroke and sickness...

I am hoping this time will not be a repeat performance of that year and much more pleasant. Training has not been so great over winter/spring so to have some mieage out on the trails is always a bonus even if my time is not to be the best?!..

The race number 

 
Runners waiting at the start. Littlehampton Marina

 
Approaching Arundel. Mile 5

Just passing through Arundel. Mile 7


The wobbly Bridge. Mile 9

Approaching the halfway point along South Downs Way


Greetings from the Ultra Bandits at the halfway aid station. Mile 13.6

 
Refill at the halfway 

 
South Downs Way to Amberley. Mile 16

Heading back downhill to Amberley. Munching Cows 

 
Big clouds and lots of greens at North Stoke on the return leg 


 
Back to Arundel at Mile 20

 
Photo courtesy of Nuala Smith

 
Another river medal to add to the set

 
Shawn finished 

 
Stats and route. No PB this year but 13 minutes slower than my best is not too bad..

 
Sadly as the cafe has closed it was local beer for the finish with the medal