My third go at running the South downs 50 an the first of my 50 grand slam for this year. Four 50 Miler over the year an I have two 100's. The first 100 is in four weeks time at the Thames Path.

I haven't yet completed 100 Miles since the Spitfire Scramble in July 2016.

Today I decided to play safe an slow down so to be ready for the 100. Good friend an running buddy Shawn is here for his first South Downs 50. I asked if he wanted to pair up an some company to help him push in the later stages. It seemed the best plan for both of us....

I stayed overnight at Travelodge Worthing Seafront an took advantage of race check an number collection the night before. This way I knew which way to walk for the start this morning...

Not the best nights sleep in a strange single bed, but I never usually do rest well before any event. I always toss turn thinking have I remembered everything?!

I had a breakfast of black coffee, small avocado an black pudding I brought along (I have another for later). Odd as this seems I cannot stomach a heavy breakfast an do not rely on any sugars or grains (Ketogenic) before or during an Ultra race. 

I checkout an then brisk walk myslef back to the start to meet Shawn an other running friends.

Once at Worthing College again I spot, Lisa, Lesley, Mark, Jason an then Shawn. We all head other to the rec ground for the briefing and the start. The weather is misty, cool, grey an with a chilly north west wind. It looks to brighten up later.

Once we set off up the track past the golf course an towards the SDW I get to settle into the group an catch up with Shawn. It is a long an steady climb for 6 miles until meeting the SDW official path.

Shawn is comfortable at keeping to 9:30-9:45min/mile to begin and is in good spirits. We stay with this plan for all the flat an runnable downhill sections today.

Jay, Shawn and myself catching up at Mile 6

Through CP One. Botolphs at 11 miles we just have some water an I try the Tailwind (electrolyte) as forgot to pack any salt capsules today. Although I have my handy table salt sachet I always carry for overnight stops.

Thanking the team we head over the road an the steep climb up Truleigh Hill to Devils Dyke. Shawn is in good spirits but has slowed doen some with the climbing.

Once at Devils Dyke an meeting lots of spectators, including good friends Lucy, Mark and John. We make our way to check point two at Saddlescombe Farm,  Mile 17.

I have some diluted coke, pick at some baby tomato an cheese, an grab a jelly baby for some quick sugar. We are both in and out very quickly.... I say hi to june who I recognise volunteering here. We thank the team an make the next climb over Newtimber and towards Pyecombe.

At Clayton Windmills we are greeted with plenty of support and spectators as we make our way on to Ditchling Beacon.

Between Fulking and Devils Dyke

We briefly hit some drizzle as the dark clouds are pushed by the north east headwinds. It makes it feel much colder than it actually is.  I have the frustration of putting my Inov8 buff on, gloves on, buff off, gloves off.... 

I have a few sips on my extra virgin greek olive oil, that I always carry on me. Good for top up calories and in this cold it actually moistures my lips!

We reach Housedean Mile 26 and Shawn has tired some. He has already said at the last climb I can run on ahead without him. I've already agreed to run with him until the finish an need to keep my pace slower to stay fresh an safe for my 100 in four weeks time. 

I just tell him i am running to the finish with you regardless so not going anywhere...

Heading to Devils Dyke

We both refill our water packs, I use half Tailwind and water. Nibble on some nuts, cheese, an take another jelly baby as we leave. Shawn goes for the sandwiches. We walk out over the road until finishing some diluted coke an our nibbles.

Running with Shawn feels much like a catch up session and finding out eachothers goals an then thinking of the Ultra races we have yet to try out, perhaps even as a team! The chat is good, as it keeps him motivated and me in the mind set of training time, keeping pace down, ready for TP100 next month!.... 

Botolphs. Heading up to Truleigh Hill

At Newmarket Hill I spot running friend Roy heading towards me. He gets a great picture of me as I approach him! Lucy, Mark an John are here again to support, further up by the gate to cheer us along... 

Mark asks if Shawn needs a hug as he senses he is feeling rather low an grumpy.

Lucy gets some good pics of us..

Waving goodbye, we make it up the hill with power walking an jogging, passing many of the cows, great South Downs scenery on the climb up.

Few more miles, then its down the yellow brick road and onto Southease at Mile 34. 

This is always a busy aid station and especially this time as I'm running with more mid pack runners than I normally would at this event. 

It is very interesting to witness, yet so full on with what the volunteers have to achieve, quickly. I thinbk to myslef they have a much tougher job than we do today! It is fast, one in, one out or everyone needing something at the same time! 

It reminds me of organised chaos like at work with passengers in security!...

It's nice to see a different style of runners at this stage, an feel more relaxed with those who have different goals an pace they can run at..

Newmarket Hill. Photo by Roy Copper

I craze on some nuts, cheese an have a half boiled egg while Shawn is using the Yha toilet... We are covering good time so far. I'm hoping he can keep the pace for his 9hr finish.

Once he is ready I thank everyone as we make our way out of Southease.

Newmarket Hill. Photo by Lucy Dean

Up over the bridge and the steep climb towards Bo Peep, enjoying the views an the support from passing weekend walkers on the way. 

At Firle Beacon Mile 39, we have my Mum an Dad to greet us with coffee an cream an some olives. We both help ourselves. Mum also has coconut water which is always so good at this stage! 

We will meet them again at the finish after this...

Shawn has slowed more so now an is fighting his low mood an negative thoughts.

I have noticed this is a pattern with him after long distance running and something just flips in his head after so many miles. I remember that look he has when I paced him before... 

I give him space and march up ahead so he can follow, giving him some space...

Although I wonder if thinking space is ther last thing he needs, rather a distraction and talking!

Heading to Southease 'Follow the Yellow Brick Road'

I find eventually by keeping slightly ahead of him, keeps him moving with less walking breaks. I check up on him from time to time an keep the conversation going.

Once into Alfriston Village Mile 41 for check point five, we are greeted with another fully stocked aid station. The volunteers help me to refill my water pack an I have some more Tailwind from my carry cup (part of the requirements as kit) while Shawn uses the toilet here.

Heading to Firle Beacon. Follow the markers, nice an easy...

I craze again on some nuts an baby tomatoes here as I've already had a PipnNut sachet after Southease. These work great for me when I cannot deal with crunching or chewing much, or not needing the fuel so much. So easy an no simple sugars or grains. 

I'm very fat adapted and have followed a NSNG way of life for five years now. I find it really helps with my lifestyle of shift work an endurance running.

I rarely go hungry, can go much longer periods before I feel the need to eat. I rarely snack this way. if an when I do splurge, as it is only life to, right!? I suffer the next day with inflammation in my muscles an what I call a 'Sugar Hangover'. 

Sometimes it is worth it.... but just sometimes... I just don't bother as it can ruin my day!...

Long climb out from Alfriston to Jevington

Still climbing.... Shawn slowing more so....

I try to follow a strict Ketogenic diet leading up to and at my running events to keep my energy persistent, an without any sugar lows. I just use small amounts of sugar as an when, a trickle of which seems to work best for me.

End of the South Downs Way at the trig point, long steep track down to Eastbourne

We head on out following the route down the river an take the bridle track that leads uphill 1.5 miles towards Jevington. This is a long climb of chalk and stones which is rather tough to run on as so lumpy..

I keep playing cat an mouse so Shawn can keep on moving without too much walking and it seems to be working for him...

Mission accomplished. Medals

The last aid station is Jevington at mile 45. We have our numbers recorded as we come doen the track leading to the Church. throiugh the graveyard and down the steps to the road. 

This aid station is up more steps to the village hall. 

I already reminded Shawn we are not stopping here and to carry on. 

It is one last mile of climbing up to the trig point where the SDW route ends and we take a public footpath down to Eastbourne, and then to the finish at the recreation ground track...

So I power walk/march up this hill and keep in check Shawn isn't too far back. Once the track flattens an is just a steady incline i see he starts to jog/hike up so I do the same so he doesn't start walking again. We pass other runners and some familiar faces I say hello to...

Soon enough we reach the top an the trig point, marshal an follow the markers down the steep, rutted track to the road....

Shawn picks up pace and gets his second wind, passing me an storming ahead. Once in eastbourne suburbia we follow road until reaching the college to the finish at the Sports track. We run hard together for the lap an finish with a great cheer and my folks, Donna, Milo to greet us both!

Mission accomplished. Not quite the sub 9hours Shawn wanted (who said running 50 miles was any easy) but a safe an comfortable acheivement, injury free ready for other events!....

I am looking forward to the next Centurion event and some more training running with Shawn, perhaps to team up again soon!

Ultra Luke


A 37 mile (59km) shared footpath and bridleway linking the North Downs Way at St Martha’s Hill, Surrey with the South Downs Way near Bramber, West Sussex and on via the Coastal Link to Shoreham-by Sea.

The route follows two disused railway lines and crosses the Surrey Hills, the Low Weald, the South Downs and the Coastal Plain. Since the trains departed in the 1960s the embankments and cuttings have become a green corridor for wildlife and people. The route connects a variety of habitats, passing banks of wildflowers, trees, hedges, woodlands, rivers, ponds and streams.

The landscape is varied as the trail crosses the different layers of rock and soil that lie between the North and South Downs. The acid sandy soils of the greensand ridge at St Martha’s Hill give way to the Low Weald clays at the county border, then in places there are beds of hard sandstone known as ‘Horsham Slab’, much used for roofing in days gone by.


Sussex Trail Events host their third river series marathon tonight starting at 8pm in Shoreham. The trail route takes the Downslink then the river bank along the River Adur, making three loops in total using the footbridge and then the bridge at Bramber. Once back at the footbridge the route is diverted on the road passing the airport, before heading back to the Shoreham recreation ground for the finish. 

Runners gather on the recreation ground for the race briefing 

Tonight is my first go at running this event. I am familiar with the route, as I have crewed at one of the checkpoints in the past, then run the Darkstar marathon which is held at the end of January, uses both sides of the river. 

The weather has been extremly dry throughout June, with low humidity and no rainfall since May. The temperature is currently 22C... yet it actually feels like over 25C with the heat index heating up the ground...

I reach the Shoreham Recreation ground in good time to get one of the last parking spaces. I collect my number and catch up with Chris and John who has come to watch the start and see the other runners. 

It is always good to see running friends to catch up, but it never seems enough time as soon enough we make our way over to the starting field and the race briefing...

The Downslink along River Adur

The start takes in two laps of the recreation field before going over the bridge to the otherside of the River Adur, where the route is diverted onto the Old Shoreham road, until reaching the Downslink footpath near the Amsterdam pub. 

The field starts to spread out and I can count atleast three other runners infront of me, Paul Sargeant, as usual is taking the lead...

The start of lap one around the river (photo by Jon Lavis)

The river bank is overgrown, yet the ground is so bone dry it is more like running on the road. I try to settle into my run and take in the pleasant scenery of the sundown and riverbank..

After a few miles in I am already feeling very warm and sweating much more than I am used to..

Sundown on the lower downs (photo by Jon Lavis)

Once reaching the South Downs bridge I know it is only a short while before reaching the first checkpoint at Bramber. Here the route goes over the bridge, near the Kings Head pub, to the other side of the river bank and back down towards Shoreham Airport. 

I take some water and add some coke to it. Jay (RD) is here to check on the runners passing through...

I thank the guys and head on up the river towards the bridge. Supporters are cheering runners on, some who I am sure were further down earlier... they are extremley enthusiastic, which is always a bonus and a boost! 

As it is saturday night, on a very warm evening, no doubt they have popped into    the pub already!...

Endless dry dirt tracks on the river bank (photo by Jon Lavis)

Once on the otherside of the River Adur, I head back down to the wooden footbridge, near the airport for the first loop. The light is fading fast, but I cab still see without the head torch for now...

Once reaching the next checkpoint at the footbridge, Chris is here to greet the runners and mark our lap on our race bib.

I have some diluted coke and take a few jelly babies for the next lap. I spot some familiar faces from previous Sussex Trail Events and they ask how I am doing. 

Everyone knows my name these days which makes us crazy runners feel like family!

I notice I have developed a dull ache in my neck, like I’ve pulled it somehow!?...As I am feeling so warm and worn out already my neck is another nag that I really don't need...

Another River series medal for the collection

I suffer with thoughts in my head that I should just call it time after the next lap, and call it good training?!... 

Then this is not an Ultra race... that voice in my head tells me to 'get over it and get that medal'

I can feel my pace dropping from the heat exhaustion and discomfort in my neck and now my quads are sore. It feels like my body is seriously rebelling againist running tonight! 

I soon enough turn on my head torch and distract myself with the sights of everyone else, a moving, shining light dotted down the river. I start a counting game in my head, with all the lights. This proves to be a good distraction of my current soreness and the time dragging...

Soon enough I reach Jay again and take a salt capsule and refill my backpack with water. I have some diluted coke and take some jelly babies with me. 

Jay asks how I am doing and kindly massages my neck to ease off the pain and loosen the muscle tension... 

It is a huge help and lifts my spirits to just run on and get the job done! 

I have about ten miles left to go...

I don't know how but, although my pace has slowed down and I am not going to reach a time close to what the previous events lastr month. I stick it through and just pop in and out at the checkpoint to grab some more diluted coke, jelly babies and chat to Chris. He finds it very amusing I got a massage from Jay to sort out my neck...

I can do this... one more lap to go then done!

I take a salt capsule as I am at alomst three hours in and have been sweating so much from the dry heat. It feels more breezy but the actually temperature makes my head feel on fire and I start to feel sick....

I manage some olive oil as I have not yet been hungry for anything. The thought of any food is making me feel more yuk...

Soon enough I reach the nect checkpoint, check in with Jay and have some water, more jelly babies to take with me and get a move on as I want to get this finish now. I hate feeling hot and sick. 

I didn't think you could get heatstroke of an evening but I really feel like I have it right now...

Once at the last checkpoint on the footbridge, I get directions from Chris, as the river bank trail is closed off from here and wee need to run Bonnets Lane towards the airport. This then comes out by the carpark at Adur Rec ground that we started. 

I see the flags and flood lights near my car and know that finally, I have reached the finish. Danny greets me with a medal and a protein vegan ball of some kind, which I really can't eat the moment. I just take some coke and thank him before getting changed into dry clothes and making my way home...

I just want my bed right now. 

Not the best marathon experience, but I reached the finish in 8th Place overall, which, isn't too bad, considering we have a severe, dry, heatwave I am not accustomed to running in... 

On the drive home, I pull over at Falmer to throw up! Just water and the effects from the heat making me feel ill. 

I cannot stomach much to eat once at home and just hydrate and sleep it off. 

I am happy I got to experience this event, although not so sure I would want to give it another go next year!

I like that the medal adds to the River Trail Series Collection. 

Just one more left to complete the set...




Sussex Trail Events have another new concept this week, their take on five in five marathons held at 6pm Monday through Friday.

Today is the start of a uk heatwave! Just in time for these marathons! It is still a sunny 22C/72F with a westerly breeze, but feels much warmer as it is so dry with low humidity at the moment.

Race HQ and Checkpoint

With nightshifts Wednesday and Thursday and too short notice to get the leave, I decided on running the first day and the last day. I miss out on the off road trail marathons so will have to just get used to the pounding pavements along the seafront instead...

Day one is using the Worthing Park Run route, starting at East Studios on the promenade, close to the Pier. We will then run West along the seafront Promenade, Passing the Lido until reaching 1.66 Mile by the Waterwise Playground. We then turn back again to the start and the checkpoint.

Meeting up with Nuala for the first of two Marathons this week!

After the first leg Jay and the team give out wristbands for each complete leg. Once we have seven wristbands there is only one more out and back left to go...

Sterting pic before the go!

A total of 28 runners have arrived, a fair few are attempting the five in five or three in three.

With just a minute to go until the 18:00 prompt start, Paul Sargent rocks up with his game face on and taking the lead up along the sun drenched seafront...

Scenery on the route tonight

The route heads west along Worthing Prom and it is fairly busy with evening walkers, cyclists, dog walkers and children playing. 

Everyone is making the most of the bright sunshine and warmer conditions. 

The breeze is strong in this direction with the sun on my face. I try to stay at a steady 7:30/7:15 average mile/pace and hope to maintain this the best I can and try to run on feel as it is so warm still.

Once reaching the marshal at the turnaround point, it suddenly feels very warm without the breeze!

Seven bands....last out and back leg to go!

Returning at the HQ checkpoint we take a wrist band for each out and back run, so we all know once at seven wristbands it is only one more left to go! 

I have some gulps of water/coconut water mix and head on back the way I came...

I am dripping in sweat already and felt much warmer running back to the HQ.

Last leg into the Finish

After a couple of out/back legs you can get an idea of who to spot and how quickly. I see Paul at roughly the same point on each return section and Nuala too. I exchange either a wave, thumbs up or 'well done' greeting as I pass the other runners. 

Just after halfway and running at a good pace still, I change my hat and buff over for dry ones and take a salt capsule as I am sweating so much now! 

By the fifth leg I am really ready for this to finish now and find it a struggle in my legs. I have to play the passing game to myself and keep my thoughts amused with the slowly decending sun and the activity along the seafront....

There is even a Mojito stand near the Pier which just looks so tempting right now!

Soon enough it is finally the last leg and I clap for Paul as he passes me to head to the finish. 

I manage to quicken my pace only just and keep it up for the last 1.66 mile in time for sunset.

I reach the finish a hot and sticky mess, in 2nd Place and in a time of 3hr 18min. 

Day one completed and just Friday to look forward to for the fifth day and for what looks to be an even hotter evening...

Enjoying the Seafront Finish 

Medal One


I make it to the start with just ten minutes to spare. Traffic coming into Shoreham on Friday evenings is slow and gridlocked. 

Reaching the start with just minutes before the go...

I collect my number from Jay and catch up with John, who is here to support and catch the start.

Nuala is running again tonight, 3in3 for her. Just the two for me this year.

Nuala, John and Myself at the start 

Number attached and last minute dash to the gents, I am ready to go! 

The weather has been very dry with low humidity, clear skies and lots of hot sunshine. It is currently 26C/77F right now! 

5in5, 3in3 and individual runners like myself

Jay gets everyone (all 26 runners) to linger by the orange marker on the floor, as this will be the switch back before the checkpoint. Then with a check of his watch he shouts the go ahead to start! 

Paul Sergeant full steam ahead after a brief catch up!

I stay to the right hand side of the cycle path and run without thinking of my pace right now. Soon enough Paul Sargeant catches up this time rather than speeding off in the lead. He is on Marathon five and he has suffered this week with the heat and stomach issues. 

Beach Huts and Blue Skies

We chat for a few minutes before he accelerates into the lead. 

Tonight, just like Monday has a strong breeze but in a North East direction. So the return leg is the cooler section for us all. 

Although Lancing has less activity to Worthing along the seafront, it still has enough to see and people watch this evening. Supporters are dotted along the green and even those chilling for drinks in beach huts and at the cafe are good cheering fans!

Free Ice Lolly!? yes please...

I find I fatique rather quickly tonight, more so than Monday! I managed to sleep most the day after my two nightshifts but feel it is not quite ideal conditions, as I am not completed rested yet and feel jet lagged. 

Heading to the Poppy Bandstand on Lancing Beach

I feel my pace dropping gradually and I notice I am not the only one. Paul has slowed more so now, dropping to just behind me, but then he is running his fifth tonight and still as strong as he can...

The chap in the lead passes me at roughly the same area on each returning leg and we exchange thumbs up as we pass.

I wave to Nuala at each pass and then see running friend Max has started running, although looks like she was late for the 6pm start.

I start to overheat and feel so tired in my legs I have to slow my pace down. The flat asphalt is taking a toll and with no shade at all along this seafront it is a real struggle. 

I am so grateful for a free ice lolly at the HQ. The ice cream hut has shut and has left overs for the runners!

I enjoy the ice cold sweet taste and a walking break to savour it before it melts and drips everywhere. 

I pick up my pace to a jog then a run, but this time it is a slower average of 8:30min/mile, but my legs will not guide me any faster...

I take a salt capsule and some jelly babies fior the last leg. It is tough but I manage to pull through with what I have left and before I really start to feel sick from all the sun and heat. 

It is good to see the HQ for the last time just ahead, as I really am getting light headed like the signs of heatstroke. 

I know this was much tougher for me than than Monday as my flow and rhythm felt sloppy, with a slower finish than I had planned.

I reach the finish.... finally, and again in 2nd Place in 3hr 23min this evening...

Medal Two

Dusk over Widewater Lagoon

I would like to thank Sussex Trail Events and everyone involved, supporting and marshalling for an enjoyable few marathons that really did test my mental stability, as road has really never been my passion or area of expertise at races. 

I will certainly consider next year but perhaps the 3in3 so to experience the off road marathon on the Wednesday to give some variation! 

Next one is in July for the Lunatic along the River Adur