KEYS 50 FLORIDA 18/5/13

The Keys 100 and 50 mile events are today in their 7th year with locals and ultra runners from all over the globe competing. This is not my usual off road, hilly trails, but flat pavements and the hard shoulder of the US1 highway. 

As friends call me the crazy runner, I figured my first overseas ultra should be a test and so the high humidity and Florida sun are going to be my challenge today. My race starts in Marathon Key at mile marker 50, then follows the highway all the way through the keys, finishing in Key West at the end of the road at mile marker 0.

With no time to spare the briefing is already in progress so I sneak in at the back to listen for the final instructions. Luckily we have blue tape to stick the 'runners caution' posters on the car and are reminded to use the tape to display my name and race number on our crew vehicle. 

Once outside we mingle with other runners and I meet a Brazilian guy who points at my sandals 'born to run' he says. A slight language barrier but I discover he came second in the race of the same name in California last year. We wish each other luck and assemble around the start, anxious to begin. 

Watch check
Last few final checks and some pictures. I hug my sister Sam then Sunday and set my RunKeeper and Garmin at the ready. 

Bosh-Run in Florida

Miles 1-10 (pace/mile)
7:42 7:33 7:48 7:40 7:56 8:08 7:43 8:34 8:16 13:56
Cheers and clapping from the spectators and crews, we sprint off through the start. The Brazilian runner is full steam ahead followed by two ladies. I stick close to them for now keeping an eye on my pace. I think 7:45 per mile is probably too fast so eventually slow it down once through Marathon Key and to the approach of Seven Mile Bridge. Marshals lead us over the road onto the hard shoulder, facing the traffic.

Slowly beads of sweat drip off my nose, and into my eyes, stinging from the sun cream. I wish now I used a sport block on my face instead. I dab the sweat with my buff and keep drinking from my hydration pack, already half empty. 

Refuelling with Vita Coco coconut water
My clothes cling to my skin, drenched in sweat, my breathing heavy and fast. I feel like I have climbed for hours, but the road is nothing but flat. I take in the view ahead as a distraction. I decide to take a salt tablet for the amount of water I'm loosing.

The seven mile bridge looks small in the distance of the deep blue Atlantic, but still so far away. The hard shoulder faces the oncoming traffic with just a concrete boulder wall to the left. Debris is scattered along the road side and I knock a piece of metal that catches my toe.  Eventually the bridge is closer and we incline slowly over the top. I pass two runners on the bridge. 

Seven Mile bridge

I can see the next island in view as the road descends. My body is already depleted of energy, I feel like I just ran a marathon and I'm not even at 10 miles!

I actually think 10 miles between meeting my crew and the aid station is too far.... I need ice and cold water. I really am in doubts if I can make it through the day unless I can get my core temperature to cool down. The sun is already high in the sky with no shade. The heat rising from the road feels like I'm running through an oven. 

Monster Truck

At the end of the bridge I can see the first check point ahead, Sam is already taking pictures. I'm aware the skin around my toes are burning and will need to apply Vaseline to prevent rubbing. I only used talc. 

Once I reach the aid station, the team take my number and ask what I need. I ask for cold water and ice in my cap. I stand by the portaloo to seek shade. There is some blood on my toe from the scrape, so we use wet wipes and Sunday applies the Vaseline. 

Grounded in the Alpha Earth Runner sandal

I tell my crew I need everything prepared next time to keep things simple and quick. It seems the event staff prefer crew to stay by their vehicles to allow for room. I explain I'm really struggling in this heat and will need ice regularly. 

I add ice in my buff for my neck, then into my cap. I hydrate with water then drink 500ml of coconut water. It goes down fast, I'm that thirsty. 

I thank my crew and ask if they can meet me before the next aid station. 

Miles 11-20
10:33 10:05 9:21 9:07 10:20 10:38 10:04 9:46 10:19 23:50 
With the extra fluids I can already feel an uncomfortable stitch in my side. The road ahead is long and narrow, lined by plenty of greenery. I start to see regular faces from the supporting crews in their vehicles dotted along the grass banks. A nice couple ask if I need anything, I take a cold water thanking them. They seem in awe of my footwear choice. 

Once through the Bahia Honda State Park the area is built up with restaurants, fuel stations, RV parks and stores. This is Big Pine Key. 

At 16 miles my crew have pulled up by a small shop. I top up the sunblock and Vaseline my toes. Sam fetches more ice and I can see they have been busy stocking up with supplies with everything laid out in the boot of the car. Great job!  I grab a Nakd and seed bar, drink some more coconut water, then add ice in my buff and cap.  I've drank enough water to get me to the next check point. I hug them both. 

At mile 20 I check in with the event team and refill my hydrapak. They tell me 'good job' and keep it up. I add some ice under my Bosh sweat band to cool my body.

Mile 21-30
9:19 10:06 13:05 11:44 14:17 11:15 20:03 8:31 20:22 8:29
Over the next bridge and into Little Torch Key. I hear screaming from a car and notice two ladies waving Union Jack flags shouting 'Go Luke!' It's my American cousin Elaine and her sister-in-law Ihssane. I give a thumbs up and wave back. 

Minutes later my body starts to feel exhausted and moving my legs seems impossible. My pace has dropped dramatically and I start walking breaks to catch my breath. By now the sun is high and burning into my skin. I have another salt tablet and try to eat some raisins with difficulty. I feel really off my food and I haven't been able to urinate yet. 

I can see a group of spectators on my path and then a huge flag. I count six people and once in sight I see all my cousins with Sunday and Sam. I greet Elaine, Lee, Craig and Ihssane thanking them for coming all this way. Craig pushes me 'don't stop keep going' I drink some more water and add ice to my neck before leaving. Sam is filming the reunion.

Family support
Seeing everyone gave me the lift I needed and I pick up speed with a smile across my face. After the next bridge I can see fishing boats. It's onto Summer Land Key and I approach my awaiting crew at 25 miles. Then on over the half way mat to register my chip with the event team. 

I to and fro over taking in the same runners ahead, they catch up then walk, I catch up then walk and so on. I can't take much more in the Luna sandals rubbing on my in step and my soles feel very warm. Time to change into the EarthRunner Alpha sandals and my Union Jack vest. The heat is really making me feel lethargic and queasy so I cool down in the car before changing. I've started developing indigestion so go easy on the coconut water for now, just hydrating with cold water. Ice added and the sandals on, I am good to plod on....

Just a few steps and I can feel the difference already. The suede foot bed is molded comfortably and the buckle is to the side, so it has released the pressure from the top of my foot. The Luna sandal has left a sore blister. 

At mile 30 check point I have some iced coconut water and orange wedges from the team. We refill my hydrapak* but notice dripping, lots of it. With inspection the bladder has pierced at the seam and is leaking. Great, all I need and I don't have a back up option. I drink what I can and head on down the road. Relay team runners sprint past at lightning pace but then they are running 2-5 mile sections each, they can afford to race. 

Mile 31-40
15:32 16:58 9:02 9:19 13:40 9:05 10:15 10:01 25:26 12:56
I hear a car toot and see it is Sam and Sunday, I signal I need help. I stop to text as they drive on. Minutes up the road they have parked and are waiting for me. I decide the only option is to carry a water bottle in the front pocket and we agree to meet at every 3 miles on the route. I slap on more sun block to my burning neck and shoulders. 

Craig pacing me

Back onto the hard shoulder and through Sugar Loaf Key, a tall chap runs up next to me. It takes me a moment but I soon notice it is my other American cousin Craig joining me for company. Shortly after his wife Ihssane joins me too. We all run together then Ihssane drops back. 

I chat about training and what Craig has planned for the year ahead. He has just got his running slowly on track again after foot surgery a couple of years ago. More relay runners shout 'good job' when overtaking. 'Its all him today!' Craig replies.

At 35 miles Craig has run three miles with me and decides to stop here. I thank him and Ihssane for the support and chat and shall see them both at the finish later. 

By now I stop under small parts of shade wherever I see any, which is very little. The road is lined by hundreds of orange and white bollards between some shrubs and small trees. I have to stick my head into the bushes to get any cover from the sun. 

My walking breaks become more frequent. I eat another Nakd bar and some nuts. It's not so much that my legs won't move but my body is giving up with exhaustion from the constant heat of the sun. I start feeling really sick and off balance. 

I am not the only one suffering, a lady with her pacer is walking now and keeps stretching her legs. 

I spot what looks like a large lizard jetting across the path, then shortly after another. These lizards are not small, at least a foot in length. Black markings along the body and tail. I wish I could have got a closer look. 

One of the many lizards of Florida

It seems forever but two miles later I can see the help of my crew ahead. I am to the point tears when I reach them and all I can say is: 'I need to cool down, I feel sick'. Sunday adds an iced flannel to my neck and sits me in the air conditioned car with cold water and added Nuun electrolytes until I start to feel better some minutes later. I force myself to eat a seed bar and sip coconut water. I really have been off my food with the heat.

Sam suggests they meet me at every 1.5 mile (average 14 minutes) from now on and we all agree. At each stop my crew check how I'm feeling, provide ice and water and reapply sunscreen - I'm wearing water resistant 100SPF by this point but it's sliding off as quick as it goes on! I feel much better after cooling down and getting some food in me. I hug them both and plod on with a struggle. A few minutes later I finally can go to the toilet. I have another salt tablet.
Sunday cooling me down with more ice!

After a very slow walk/plod I make it to them and stock up with water and add electrolytes to my bottle. More ice then I slowly carry on to the next check point. 

40 miles and in Big Coppitt Key at the check point my number is recorded and I'm told I am in the top ten. I'm so pleased. I add more ice to my buff and have some iced coconut water. My indigestion has eased off. I top up my bottle then head on my way, ready to make it to the finish. The last official check point is in 5 miles. 

Miles 41-44
9:28 11:09 8:09 12:14
The route is a smooth paved cycle track away from the hard shoulder. This continues with no sign of the end in the distance. 

Sunday and Sam run across the road two miles up with water and ice. They hold up a union jack throw for me to run to and jump up and down shouting 'Come on Lukey!' Already my spirits have lifted and my pace improves. The late afternoon sun is cooling the temperature and I feel confident I can do this. Time went out the window at the first check point, and my goal is to finish safely.

Relay sprinters meet then overtake along the path. The lady runner with her pacer is having more walking breaks along this section.

After another bridge crossing and onto Stock Island I reach the 45 mile check point with just the one lady volunteer, Anne. She has the warmest, helpful nature any tired runner could ask for at this stage in the race. 

At Amazing Ann's aid station - 5 miles to go

Sunday and Sam join me here, and we chat about the final stages and how well I have done. As the sun is now cooler I'm feeling the best so far in the race. I eat more orange wedges with iced water as they are easy on my stomach. Sunday puts ice on my swollen, blistered feet and Sam slaps on more sunscreen.

Cooling ice cubes for hot feet

Mile 45-50
8:37 14:21 8:37 10:54 8:06 9:05
I thank Anne for her kindness and make my way down the long endless road. The last stretch has felt like the road to nowhere. No bends and no sign of the end. The finish line is in 5 miles. 

On the approach into Key West the road leads onto Roosevelt Blvd and heads around the perimeter of the island. The sun is lower now and a sea breeze is blowing from the bay, refreshing and cooling to run against. By the waterside at sea level the view is beautiful. The pavement is wide and many tourists and locals stand to cheer the relay runners on the last leg. 

Key West just 2 miles to go...

A brief stop near the 2 mile marker, just some water and a few nuts. My crew had to leave it 3 miles rather than the usual 1.5 miles as there was no where for them to pull over on this busy road approaching Key West. 

I am exhausted but feeling in good spirits to reach the finish after a very long day. I say my goodbyes to Sis and Sunday and will see them on Higgs Beach. 

This long pathway feels like an eternity and I just have to keep looking across to the amazing view along this beautiful Key West coastline as a distraction. Once around a large bend, passing big hotels on the front, a runner comes up beside me. It takes me a moment to register, but it is Sunday joining me for the last 1.5 mile. Sam is parking up so will be at the finish with my cousins, patiently waiting.

Sunday paces me for the last 1.5 miles
The last mile is another long road into the busy centre of Key West. It just never seems to end and my body is giving up on me. I have to stop to walk a few steps, before Sunday tells me 'You are so close, you can run, keep on going!'

It is a wonderful moment but a very painful one to endure. I remind myself it is only temporary and to keep talking as a distraction. I keep asking where is the finish as I cannot see a beach. This is why Sunday joined me for the last 1.5 miles - after Sam drove the last stretch they decided I may be unsure of the route.

Eventually I can hear crowds cheering and see a blue finish inflatable archway on the  sand. Sunday pulls back to let me finish, I pick up some speed to make it to the beach. Running on the sand is such a great feeling and it is my first race finish on a beach. I see my family clapping and shouting 'Go Luke, you're awesome!' I pass under the finish with my hand on my heart, with a sigh of joy and relief....It is 19:18 in the evening.

Relieved and happy on Higgs Beach

I come in 5th position overall, from 92 runners, 3rd male finisher in 9:18:13. Note the clock time in the picture is the 100 mile ultra clock time. 

1st and 2nd positions were the two ladies that started with me back in Marathon and sped off into the distance at the Seven Mile Bridge.

Not my ideal time I had as a goal, but then I really didn't know how my body was going to cope in the heat. It reached 31C/87F today, high humidity and no shade. 

I start to feel very off balance and have tingling sensations running down my arms and legs. It soon passes but is something I have not yet experienced after a race, more accustommed to shivering with cold in England! I meet the family and head into the sea to soothe my sore blisters. 
Soothing my feet
After lots more water and a veggy burger, I head to the car and freshen up back at my cousins hotel. Afterward we celebrate over dinner on the famous Duval Street. 

I make the exception of eating a steak dinner with Key Lime Pie. It worked like magic to restore my energy!

Brit finishing the Keys 50 (first overseas ultra)

I would like to thank all my American family Elaine, Lee, Craig and Ihssane for making the long journey down from Orlando to help show support and pacing at the weekend. My sister Sam for the driving and continued fantastic support at the race and with the blog. Sunday for being the best host and keeping everything calmly in check and the operation running smoothly in hot intense conditions.

*The hydrapak for my UtraAspire back pack was replaced quickly by Ultra Marathon Running Store.  There is unfortunately a small defect on about 20% of the packs. 

YouTube Keys 100 video:
Part one
Part two
Part three



More than 25,000 runners took to the capital streets today for the Edinburgh marathon.

In glorious sunshine and temperatures reaching a pleasant 15C, 
runners from more than 100 countries will set off from the city centre to take on the world’s fastest marathon course.

This is my first trip to Edinburgh and will be my first Scottish race. Sunday and Bosh-Run friends Chris, Simon and Joyce are also running today. 

After wishing Sunday good luck, he makes his way to the green starting area. I head on down to the red start on London road. After dropping my bag I make my way through the crowds of runners down to the start pen. 

I have decided to wear the Earth Runners Alpha sandal today, as they proved very comfortable on the road during the Florida Keys 50 mile Ultra last weekend.

The Red Start

Already runners wait patiently behind the elite starting area. This area will start 10 minutes earlier than the mass runners on the next street behind us. As I watch everyone squeeze into the pen, I notice someone, who I think is Joyce a few feet in front of me. I give her a gentle tap, then wave when she turns around. 'LUKE! Oh my god!' She screams as we hug. I can tell she is very excited and also very nervous. Joyce grew up with my partner Sunday in Canterbury so already feels like family to me. 

One for Bosh!

After introducing the super elites we slowly shuffle forward for the count down to begin. I wish a grinning Joyce the best of luck and to enjoy the race. Thousands of excited runners sprint down the road to almighty cheers.

Miles 1-10 (pace/mile)
6:46 6:45 6:30 6:36 6:34 6:33 6:29 6:35 6:29
The route weaves around and out of the city onto Abbeyhill, going past Dynamic Earth. Heading to Queens Road where I catch up with a fast Joyce looking smooth and relaxed in her stride. I run along side her for a moment to see how she is doing, before our own pace separates us apart. 

This is a nice long stretch of greenery before passing St Margaret's Loch. Eventually heading north under the railway line and passing Lochend Park. The route then reaches Leith Link, Seafield Road and onto the promenade of Portobello facing the North Sea.

So far my legs are feeling strong and the Alpha sandals are comfortable on my feet for the long road ahead. The view out to sea is so beautiful and calm. The clouds are dispersing nicely and the sun is shining upon us. With a gentle breeze, it is starting to heat up rather quickly. The water stations are just frequent enough at every three miles.

The crowd support on the front is just brilliant and the relay race has brought in many more spectators today.

Looking out to the North Sea from Cockenzie

Miles 11-20
6:40 6:43 6:34 6:31 6:35 6:40 6:56 7:23 7:02 6:52
After 11 miles I sip some Zero electrolyte mixture (sample from the race pack) I am carrying in my race belt and then have a Nakd bar. The route carries on along the coast then into Musselburgh. I spot a big blue Bosh Run balloon and T-shirt up ahead and can see it is Gillian from our running group. I thumbs up to her and her daughter with a big smile. 

The road carries on through local neighbourhoods and high streets before it reaches Links Road. This is one of the longest roads to the route, although very scenic to look out to sea, it is rather daunting to not see the end of the road. Warming up, the sun is higher and I feel my pace dropping slightly as my legs start to fatigue. This half way point will be crucial to the time I can finish. 

Surprising out of town route

Already the super fast elites are heading back towards us at this stage. Finally after a four mile winding road the turn around point close to Craigielaw is upon us. I speed up the best I can to move away from the annoying heavy breather right on my back. He sounds like a loud panting dog with a sore throat. 

Switching back on ourselves the way we came, then into the private estate grounds of Gosford House, through a scenic wood of tall trees, then a farm with just a herd of cows on one side and horses on the other as our spectators. Looking in fascination as we race down the stoned pathway. My feet feel slightly sore on the ground beneath and already my pace has slowed.

Flat downhill

Once back onto Links Road, a water station followed by some dates as energy fuel. The runners on the other side of the road are coming by in large groups now, a sea of colourful charity tops and fancy dress. I thumbs up at Chris when we pass each other, calling out 'Bosher'. I can see the 20 mile marker up ahead. I look out for Sunday but no sign of him yet. I will need to quicken my pace if I want to achieve another personal best time...

Miles 21-27
6:49 6:51 6:45 6:53 7:11 6:45 7:33
Back through the small village of Port Selton. I smile and shout 'Bosh' when I see Gillian again. The road seems to go on forever, small local shops, cafe and potteries dotted along the high street. The cheering and spectator support is in full swing on this leg back and is really helping to spur me on. Although the other runners I pass have a long way left, it is great to see everyone in high spirits and exchange well done to each other.

The 24 mile marker and just 2.2 miles left. I sip what is left of my electrolyte water which has some added caffeine, in the hope it may lift my pace. Clapping, cheering and 'come on Luke, almost there' being called out. Helping me push on for the finish.

Finally reaching the 26 mile marker, but the finish is nowhere in sight. The railings holding everyone back are packed solid with spectators for the final leg. I see a marshal, then sharp left turn onto bumpy rubber mats covering the playing field below. I can see the clock and the finish line in view, just metres left to go...

'Sub three finisher's coming in, Luke Ashton' I can hear called out. I sprint the best I can on my tired legs. I glance at the clock from above and see 02:56:32.

68th Place 2:56:26

Another personal best with over a minute off my Virgin London time. Not bad considering I ran a 50 mile last weekend. I just wonder how much faster I could do had I been recovered fully? 

Well there is always next year...

I collect my bag and locate Joyce. She too has a personal best of 3:08. So seven minutes off her time from last year. 

Sunday has some discomfort with ITB in his leg so has slowed to a walk/jog to finish safely. Not the time he was after but he has finished another marathon and gained a medal. Training has not been so easy for him with my heavy race schedule, so hopefully in the autumn he can get back on track for 2014. 

Proud finishers Sunday, Chris, Simon and myself

We find Chris and Simon before heading off to the shuttle bus back into the city. 

Note: The 1.5 mile walk to the bus then another long walk from the station to the hotel was not ideal. So I think next year we will consider catching a train.

Joyce makes another PB

Nice big bookmark medal


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FLORIDA KEYS 50 VIDEO: 9.5 miles to go

Ahead of the full race blog from the Florida Keys 50 Ultra, this is a video to give you some idea of how I was feeling in the 31C heat with no shade for over 9 hours.

Endurance racing is as much about support as the challenge of getting to the finish line itself.  More on that in my race blog.

UK support crew (Sunday and sis Sam) worked hard to keep me hydrated, fuelled and comfortable while my US cousins made the long trip down from Lake Mary, near Orlando to give me much needed moral support, including running a couple of miles with me too!

A BIG thank you to everyone that supported me online via Facebook, Twitter and BOSH Run.  My crew kept me updated with your comments, it means a lot.

Full report to follow next week.

Click here to view video



The Alpha Earth Runners sandal

This Saturday I will run my first overseas Ultra Marathon. The Florida Keys 100 and 50 mile race takes you down Highway 1 from Key Largo through all the Keys, the famous seven mile bridge, then onto Key West to the finish. I am running the 50 mile race from Marathon Key to Key West.

After a smooth journey with British Airways direct to Miami, accompanied by my crew, Sunday and sister Sam, I am slowly adjusting to the warmer weather and sunshine. Now we are into day two of the trip.

I have travel quite often, so I stayed awake until 11pm local time, on the day of arrival to help adjust to the five hour time difference. A short 3 mile run along the board walk on the beach yesterday has helped prepare for what is to come....

I found I sweated more but I welcomed the warmer sunshine of 29C. The harsh, long winter back home really has been rather depressing and running in shorts and vest is just the best feeling.

I have stayed well hydrated with lots of water, added salt on my food, Vita CoCo coconut water and water-dense fruits and vegetables. I can only hope that staying hydrated will be my best and option to get through the 50 miles safely. I have Suceed! S!Caps (salt tablets) for once I really start to heat up and shall be carrying my UltraAspire Surge vest from The Ultra Marathon Running Store along with my Nuun electrolyte water and snacks.

My choice of running footwear for the race will be the Earth Runners Alpha sandal. Check out my recent blog of these great new minimalist running sandals.

My cousins Elaine and Craig shall be making their way to Key West, from their home town in Lake Mary near Orlando. They will be meeting my crew at the half way station, on race day tomorrow.

I am really excited to be one of the few UK runners taking part in this event and to have my support crew and family experience it with me too.

I am looking forward to a once in a lifetime experience to run free in one of the most scenic routes of the United States.

Watch me live on RunKeeper or keep up to date via my Facebook and Twitter profiles. (Please note the runkeeper Live maybe intermittent throughout the race due to my wifi signal)

Departing Miami, Florida Keys here we come....



27.2 mile trail marathon, with climbs of over 3,000ft into the south downs

Feeling like spring with top temperates of 14c, light winds and scattered clouds forecast.

I am with fellow Brightonian Andy.B today, and a 2nd attempt of the 'Tough One' in the hope of personal best after the very wet course last year. The start is on Hill Barn Lane recreation ground, near Worthing.

We collect our timing chips and numbers.

One by one other Bosh-Run members arrive. It's always nice to see familiar faces at local races and gives the chance to catch up and ease the nerves.

Andy.N, John.P, Mike, Rob, Andy.B, John.F and Me 
(Joanne missed the picture)

With only 5 minutes to go, we head over to the start, wishing everyone the best. I spot mum and dad looking for me. I feel a nudge and see James Elson (Centurion Running Team). A quick hand shake then we are off...

Miles 1-10 (min per mile)
7:29 8:06 6:18 7:18 6:49 6:20 6:59 9:28 8:32 7:31
Speeding off down the field, straight up the lane onto a track, rising steep above the golf course and into the South Downs. The stones and mud, hard and dry below, already a mission to navigate. With short heavy breaths, I choke and cough on a fly, just lovely.... warm weather brings bugs!

I chat to Edwina up the track, we ran at a previous race and the Stinger last month.

As this is an off road marathon, I wanted to carry my water with Nuun electrolytes on me. So I opted for the UltrAspire Surge vest. This is light enough for a fast race, with handy secure pockets to hold my phone, snacks and keys. It is also the most comfortable pack I have used, that fits snug and close to my body. The contouring is so soft, it feels like part of my clothing.

Once out at the top, admiring the great views. Following the arrows, then a sharp turn down a rocky track, before another climb. Already I have doubts wearing Vibram Five Fingers today, as I feel every sharp stone underfoot.

I can see the second hill in view and already the front pack are half way up... A speedy chap over takes and asks what pace I am running at. The clouds break and the sun shines through, it warms up quickly and I need to remove my buff from my neck. 

I drink water at every aid station, and sip on my electrolytes. Climbing the second hill, I already feel fatigued and worry I have pushed off too quickly at the start. My pace slows. 

700ft up and looking towards Brighton, the view is breath taking. Lots of hikers and cyclists are out on route enjoying the sunshine. Eventually the track meets the south downs way. Undulating up and down over rocky terrain then onto a tarmac road towards Devils Dyke.

Top of Chanctonbury Hill

Miles 11-20
8:13 7:17 7:47 8:36 6:53 7:10 10:02 9:14 9:59 8:52
Heading up on steep grass closer to the Dyke, already the front group of runners are heading back down hill. I count 6 in total. Reaching the top, watered and number recorded, I head on back down the hill following the front runners. 

I eat a Nakd bar then pick up pace for the descents. I thumbs up to James when passing, then see John and both Andy's. Slowly more and more runners start to pass. Further down I see Joanne in good spirits. 

Once at 16 miles the route heads on up to Chanctonbury Hill, which is the longest climb, cutting across fields on the very stoned, dry track. My feet start to feel very sore and every step becomes painful. I have to carefully land and run on the grass edges where possible. 

After 18 miles, Edwina and other runners have over took already. I start to slow then walk to rest my sore feet. I have some fruit and chocolate coffee beans with plenty more electrolytes. Through the next gate, passing the giant pigs in their troft. 

Finally I can see an oasis of trees and the aid station in view at the top of the hill. I stop to take some pictures. Thanking the team, I plod on, staying to the grass edges until the track is just rocky again.  

Miles 21-28
10:26 7:59 8:59 10:20 9:44 8:46 7:51 7:30
By now I have given up any hope of a super quick time like at the Steyning stinger marathon, I just plan on finishing the best I can without any more discomfort to my feet. I really did forget how intense this was from last year, and really question my recent lack of hill training...

After a steep downhill it is back up again, winding through the woods and past farms and cattle. I start to pass walkers and slower runners from the half marathon. Exchanging words of encouragement. Another water stop, then finally the last aid station at 26 miles. I hobble on around to the last climb, before heading steep down the uneven dirt track, towards the finish. A speedy runner over takes to claim his victory finish. 

Grateful to see the marshals at the bottom, clapping as I approach, it is down the lane the way we came up at the start and onto the field for the finish. I hear my name called out and spot mum and dad.... at last I can stop to rest my poor feet....

Finally at the finish 13:44

Collecting my medal and reflecting on how difficult that really was. I stock up on bananas and coconut water, before taking advantage of the free massage on offer.

A personal best from 63rd place in 2012 to 11th place this year in 3:43:59

I catch up with Mum and Dad then wait for Andy and the other Bosh runners to come to the finish. All in all a great day out racing in the spring sunshine, and very pleased with my result considering I was wearing incorrect footwear for the tough terrain.

Next year, third time lucky....

£7,500 was raised for Ferring Country Centre at last years event, and a similar amount is expected from today. 

Well done to first lady Edwina Sutton and all 164 runners who finished the race

Three Forts Challenge