One of the biggest off-road marathons, and the top ten on the list in the UK. One aimed at the adventurous runner, seeking plenty of hills and sight seeing...

The Beachy Head Marathon is a long-established fixture in the race calendar and attracts more than 1,500 runners, including overseas participants.

And, with its scenic yet extremely challenging route through the South Downs National Park countryside proving ever-popular, it’s little surprise the 2013 race saw an impressive field of 1,700 runners, the highest number so far to tackle the course.

The gruelling 26-mile run includes 300 steps and 14 gates, passing through Jevington, Alfriston, Litlington, Friston Forest, the Cuckmere Valley and Seven Sisters, including Birling Gap and Beachy Head.

Unuasually warmer weather than last year, dry and partly sunny with temperatures reaching 16C. The wind has picked up and will be 20mph in places. I am wearing a light shower proof jacket, tee, Skins and Merrell Trail shoes as the terrain is very muddy and wet in places from the heavy rain all week. 

Myself, Trefor, Karen, Ian, Darren, Sammy, Rachael, Lucy and John

After race registration I bump into Bosh runners Thomas, Tristan, Ultra Ian and Karen before meeting the others on the green for pre-race pictures. As with most local races it is great to see familiar running friends and meet new faces. We are all very excited, but I can see some are rather nervous and just want to get started. I chat to John about ultra training and his goals for next year. We all wish each other the best and make our way to the starting area facing that steep climb...

9:00 The start of Beachy Head Marathon

Fastest Pace: 7:26
Slowest Pace: 9:30

Taking it easy and jogging the first climb, before settling into a comfortable pace. The first half is steady inclines, until reaching Jevington, a steep drop of 600ft followed by another climb then reaching Alfriston.

Feeling good at Jevington

I remember the route very well and my memory serves me well. lots of climbing and lots of stunning scenery into the downs. The amazing sights distract me from the powerful wind and hills.

Just the beginning of many more steps

Fastest Pace: 7:56
Slowest Pace: 12:20

Starting my day with a Bulletproof Coffee, some spinach, walnuts and a shot of wheat grass, I am feeling well fuelled so far, and only need some salted coconut water and then sips of my special blend (espresso, chia seeds, olive oil, coconut water mix) after 18 miles into the race. 

Along the river, at Cuckmere Valley about 16 miles into the route, the mud is wet and thick below and I slip onto my side. I have been stumbling here and there, as I rarely run in shoes these days, but with the tricky terrain my Luna Sandals would not be practical enough to see me through safely. 

Passing the Bosh support

More steps...

Seven Sisters Park

Fastest Pace: 8:44
Slowest Pace: 12:23

Struggling to even run any of the steep climbs in the later stages, my legs,  fatigued and aching. I can manage a slow run downhill and a hiking/walk uphill for the remaining 8 miles of the route. By the 22 mile aid stop, I am rather thirsty so have two cups of water and top up one of my bottles. I take a small bite of a mars bar for a sugar trickle. Suck the chocolate and spit out the rest. 

The Seven Sister Cliffs

Head winds

With the light house in view and approaching closer, it is just a few more miles left until the steep downhill back to the start. Lots of spectators and walkers clap and cheer as all the runners battle on through the strong head winds. Gusts blow from behind pushing me upwards like a helping hand...

I check my Garmin and can see I am already approaching 3 hours and 40 minutes, so reaching a personal best this year is out of the question. It has been a tough year of racing with a mixture of road marathons, off road and ultra distances with varied terrain. Two weeks ago I ran Cologne, and five weeks ago I finished the London to Brighton ultra. Although I feel recovered, it was the last time I was running steep hills and I have not been training particularly for this marathon. So I used today as an enjoyable, training run and to finish strong and injury free... 

Final leg to the finish

Once reaching the Beachy Head pub, it is just a mile left to go. I can see the familiar road we crossed on our first climb all those hours ago. The support and cheers are greeted from both sides and the groups grow the closer we get to the finish. Eventually the grass leads down towards the seafront and the pier is in view, the red finish line looks a spec from high up here, and it is hard to slow down my pace on the steep, slippery drop. I tread as careful as gravity will allow and then reach the road to the sounds of 'go on Luke'. I can see Bosh blue to my side cheering me into the finish. I thumbs up to the camera and catch a glimpse of the clock above. 4:06:30. 

Considering how slow I was climbing the hills towards the end I am still pleased with my final result and I had no ankle issue today, which was my biggest worry over my race position and time. 

After collecting my medal and changing into a warmer jacket, I make my way over to see the Bosh-Run supporters to cheer on the remaining finishers. 

Proud finishers


151st in 4:06:30 
(16 minutes slower than 2012)



First look: The SEO7R uses a smart light technology that can be dimmed from 15%-100% light beam on memory. An advanced light focus, choosing between a flood beam or sharp focus long distance spot beam. This high end headlight is packed with features, making it a perfect choice for any runner, during the longer darker months, whether in poor lit areas or complete off-road running

'Serious lighting power, fashionable colour options and appealing designs. Each SEO model is lightweight, houses both white and red LEDs and packed full of amazing features. The headbands are anti-allergic, easily removable, washable and changeable for new designs (available as accessories). Technologies featured include LED Lenser's Advanced Focus System for spot - flood beam selection and OPTISENSES active light measurement technology'

Lenser with rechargeable USB battery

Fortunate enough to be able to test the SEO7R, but with little night running in my schedule I have only just had the opportunity. Easily pressing the top soft click button to select from red to high beam light mode, I select full beam then hold and press the button until the light dims to around 70% beam. Enough to see in poorly lit streets and also enough light for complete darkness. I wanted to see the potential of the dimmer to preserve battery life but then also for when out in complete blackness away from rural areas I can see the maximum flood beam results another time.

Comfortable and washable headband. 220lm beam

USB Rechargeable- Smart Light Technology (SLT):100% | Dim Memory 15% – 100% | Signal
- Advanced Focus System (AFS):Homogenous flood beam, or sharply focused long distance beam spot
- Optisense Technology: Automatic Dimming Function
- Rotating Head- Glare-free Red LED Light- Washable / Exchangeable Headband- Transport Securing Mechanism- High Comfort Level- Low Weight

LED: 1x High End Power LED (white) / 1x High End Power (red)
Weight: 105 g
Lumens: 220 lm | 20 lm
Batteries: 1 x Lithium ion pack
Note: Can be used with 3x AAA batteries
Energy tank: 3.2 Wh**
Burning life: 5 hours | 20 hours
Beam range: 130 m | 40 m
Waterproof level: IPX4

I head along the seafront towards the Marina then to the cliff under pathway which is very dark and only lit by the sky. I can see for a good 30+ metres with the beam head angled straight ahead in original position, then a more sharp and clear focus with the beam head angled down slightly as you can see in the pictures below (ipone5). I am uses AAA batteries. The solid unit seats snugly and tight above my running cap, and the headband can be adjusted easily for comfort. Slightly larger unit than my Petzl light so does feel slightly chunky and heavier. 

Light angled in original position looking ahead on 70% spot beam

Light angled down on 70% beam away from street lights in darkness

Light angled in middle position on 70% spot beam, away from street lights on trail

I found the focus very clear and sharp and the detail clarity very good for stones and debris on asphalt and grass. Now I am unsure if it was from wearing my cap or the actual spot beam light, but there is an outer halo ring around the sides of the light (light dial turned halfway to spot beam). Although slightly distracting on first use, I did get used to this after a few miles running. I will have another test soon with the spot beam and try to adjust to see if this is less noticeable on a higher strength beam or the flood feature. 

I am really intrigued to see the battery power with both the AAA batteries and the rechargeable USB pack. I will leave the light set as it is and only use the full flood feature once out in complete darkness off road to test the potential. 

To be continued...

Today I discovered from a friend who works with lighting, that the halo ring effect is from where I had the light dial turned to focus the spot beam feature. If turned back to zoom the light out it will be less noticeable.

Winter100 race update: Using a fully charged usb rechargeable battery in the head torch I was set to go for good period in darkness during the night section of the race. However on a 60-70% beam and within 3hours the light died on me and I had to use my replacement PETZL TIKKA2 until I reached the next aid station. The team helped me add 3xAA batteries and I was good to go. However, again, within 3hours the light died and this time i could only use my iphone torch to guide me to the next stop to change batteries again. 

Whether it was the damp cold and temperatures of 3c draining the power, I am not sure but over all for the cost of the SE07 I would of hoped it could perform to at least the 5hours minimum as stated. 

Rather disappointed as this cost me fair few minutes changing lights and replacing batteries too soon into the night.


The Cologne Marathon, half marathon, skating event and hand cycling, attracts over 27,000 participants every year. The inaugural race took place in 1997 and it is now the third most popular marathon in Germany after the Berlin Marathon and Hamburg Marathon.

Known as the 'experience marathon', the Cologne Marathon is full of interesting sites.
Runners start in the Cologne Deutz area, crossing westward over the Rhine. They almost immediately then face the twin towers of the massive Cologne Cathedral before striding along side of the Rhine, past the many Romanesque churches, passing through some of the attractive parks that surround the city. They then return to the city centre, once again reaching the finish line at the impressive Cologne cathedral.

Almost 10,000 runners will toe the starting line today, but with a 6 hour time limit to complete the course, just half will finish...

Nice number

Myself and my partner Sunday are fortunate enough to stay with friends in Cologne just outside the city near Beethoven Park. Our friend Duc has been training for his first ever marathon, and at the age of 40 decided this is one thing on his 'to do' list to complete this year...

Fresh Green Tea for Duc

Avocado with olive oil and chia seeds, washed down with bulletproof coffee

See no, speak no, hear no evil...

Ready, set...


Let's run Koln

Cathedral Towers

Sunday on the last stretch 

Duc sprinting

Hungry finishers

Happy Luna feet

3:15:55 in 329th place

This was my slowest road marathon of the year, but then I have been nursing an on-going ankle injury and not trained for marathons since my London to Brighton Ultra event was my most recent off road. As much as I love the city marathon buzz, I cannot train fast for both, and find the balance difficult with my race schedule and shift work commitments already. 

I have a few key marathons for 2014 already, but I would recommend Cologne to anyone looking for a fast, flat and scenic city race among any of the other top European city marathons. The huge crowd support similar to London and the clear, precise organisation from the registration at the expo to the finish is 5 stars for excellence. 

Duc finishes his first marathon close behind me

Sunday finishes happy and pain free

Happy finishers