Sussex Trail Events are low key, enjoyable, endurance running events held in and around the Sussex area.

The Arun River Marathon is the first of it's kind, with 47 runners about to embark on the 2014 race today...

The scenic route starts at Littlehampton Marina, by the Boat House Cafe at 08:00

Sunshine on our side today

Following the public footpath through the car park and then along the left side of the river bank towards Arundel, 5 miles away.

The route will cut across the high street, passing the Castle ruin before heading along the river again. 

Eventually weaving through the village of Amberley, where we will meet the South Downs Way, heading east, up hill to the turnaround point. Then run back the way we came, along the same track.


With Ultra Runner Shawn Timmons

Catching up with Shawn, talking running and the next races coming up. Then we speak to Dill Cowdry about the South Downs Way 100 that is creeping up fast! 

The weather is looking to be the perfect spring day with plenty of warm sunshine and reaching 18c buy lunchtime.

No4 for the first time

A short race brief about the navigation and route to take. We need to look out for white and red tape with the occasional arrow marker. The route stays on most public footpaths so should be quite easy to follow. 

With Ultra Runner Dill Cowdry

Race briefing 

I wish the guys good luck and we head on our way towards the path that reaches the river. 

The runner in the lead (Paul Sargent) flies off within seconds. I run with Dill at his pace, approx 7:45min/mile pace, until the track narrows and the grass is too thick. He stays close by in front of me along the river, until reaching Arundel, where he picks up his pace some more. Then is further ahead.

.... and we are off

Heading to Arundel almost 5 miles 

Arundel Castle 

Over the high street and passing the castle ruin, before taking the footpath again down the river. 

The breeze is calm and the temperature is rising quickly. The sun is high above and with no cloud coverage it feels hot in my head. Wearing all black was not the best choice of clothing today! 

An open section along the river with views out towards the downs and the Castle, make the experience all the more special. Over a few styles and a bridge before reaching the pub under the shaded trees, which is the first water drop. I drink two cups and thank the team before heading on. 

The trail leads in through woodland, winding around trees which is rather difficult on the feet with all the mud. Lots of brambles and branches scrape my arms, but nothing serious. 

Climbing up onto the South Downs Way

Eventually over another style then across a field before reaching a small wobbly suspension bridge. The experience feels like 100 people running at one time, yet it is only me! 

Soon enough reaching a small lane then across the river bank that leads into Amberley. Across another footpath and towards the South Downs Way route. I take an S!Cap salt capsule as it is getting warm quickly.

I catch up with Dill and see how he is doing. We run together when we reach the SDW marker and stay on the track that climbs up high onto the downs. 

Another climb...

This section will be 30 miles or so into our next ultra race, so we both are on a training run learning the route. I have climbed this section once before and remember how chalky and technical it is. 

We take it steady walking the steeper parts. 

The incline levels out and we pick up to a slow jog until we reach the top. Almost 13 miles into the route and Paul is already heading back from the half way point. A good 15 minutes in the lead. He comes zooming by looking strong. 

Shortly afterwards and when I can see the check point in the distance, the second place runner comes back towards us. 

With a small team of supporters and volunteers to cheer us on, I have a few cups of water and a slice of water melon. The selection of food is very impressive, a right picnic. Thanking everyone I head on back up the chalky track the way I came, with Dill just behind me. 

Arriving at the 2nd aid station before the turn around at 13 miles 

Once reaching the descent it is a very enjoyable and fast run all the way down the trail and back towards Amberley. I pass many others runners climbing up the hill and then see Shawn running towards us looking really strong. It is great to see Shawn flourish into such a great runner over the past year. His training has really started to pay off with great results...

With Dill right behind me all the way past the caravan site and across the bridge into Amberley. Back along the river bank and the muddy woods, then up the small lane again. I can see neon ribbon dotted along fences and wonder if it is from runners behind us? I see one of the styles and footpaths on the left with a green arrow I followed like before. 

Taken this route was not a good option, with Dill quickly on my tail, then reaching the bottom of a hill he questions if this is the right way, asking if I can use a map on my phone. No markers and no tape to be seen anywhere. Taking the next footpath through woodlands, I can see a stream but not the river yet. 

I check my Runkeeper map, that is tracking my progress and can see we have detoured off the route. Staying on this footpath eventually brings us to a small bridge and the river side. 

Back along the Arun River

The sun is beating down on my head and I am starting to feel over heated already, I feel more fatigued as the minutes go by. I tell Dill not to follow me in future and feel bad he has lost time going this way. When we reach the railway line we realise we are on the wrong side of the river, so with no way of getting across we have to head back on down the river the way we came. 

We reach the white bridge that we took and see where we should have turned before. Getting back on the correct side of the river, adding another few bonus mile. Oh well it makes good training for the day!

I let Dill carry on ahead as my pace starts to drop. I have some coffee and coconut water from my pack, some seed and nut mix and take another S!Cap salt capsule. 

I think the sun and little shade is starting to make me feel sick and I really do not want to run right now. I take a few walking breaks and start to feel low in my mood that I have gone off route on such a simple course. I really didn't want to go over a marathon distance as I test my ankle.

For what feels like forever, walking then running, walking then running. Texts to Sunday and my Mum. The thick grassy banks of the finish approach and I can see boats from the Marina in the distance. The sun is shaded now with clouds which is a break at least. 

I really am ready to finish and do not feel great. The sickness is worse and I think I may actually be sick. 

I finally make it to the finish in a slower than planned 4:33, with a total of 29.5 miles and loosing a few places in doing so. I really enjoyed the route yet I didn't enjoy how I felt in the second half. 

Dill made it in before me in 6th place and then Shawn comes in 8th place behind me.

I think we all struggled with some of the terrain and the heat today, but we all had a good training run in doing this marathon today. I would like to try again next year...

7th place 4:33:14

Shawn comes in behind me in 8th place

I freshen up and change from my sweaty clothes. I throw up not once, but later again, after some fizzy water. I really couldn't stomach the free full English breakfast, just a few bites is a real effort. I start to feel better after a peppermint tea and once driving home. 

I do not like being ill and it very rarely happens, especially after a race. I guess with my ankle injury and not running so much I have not been out in the warm to adjust to the change in weather. Hopefully the next race will not be so difficult for me...


Bosh Runners 6th 7th and 8th position

Once back home and after a flapjack the kind young girl gave me at The Boat House Cafe I start to feel my normal self again and in the evening hungry and ready for my dinner!

Finally have my appetite back for dinner


I was lucky enough to have been invited onto The Brighton and Hove community radio station, for a segment on the topic 'we're only human'. Hosted by Cheryl Roberts, with special guest Andy Winter. 

We discussed my Viking Way Ultra win. What it took and how I kept my strength up during the 33 hours non-stop event. Race strategy, nutrition and why I love long distance running...


Listen here:

Brighton & Hove Community Radio

Many thanks to BHCR presenter Cheryl Roberts and the recommendation from Bosh-Run friend Lesley Lewis


The Centurion Thames Path 100, 3rd annual race is a point to point trail, from Richmond On Thames, London to Oxford. Capturing some of the most scenic riverside life along the thames. 
Today is my 2nd attempt running the 100 miler event. This year the date is later, rather than late March like previous years. The conditions have been good, but severe flooding has still caused route diversions in places...

 Another race and another Travelodge

After a good nights sleep in Teddington, a few miles away, myself and Sunday meet ultra runner Shawn Timmons outside at 7:30am. Helen is part of my crew today and is our driver to the start in Richmond. 

Last night was the best sleep I have had all week, as I have started a new set of earlies at work. 

Which I have not adjusted to yet. 

For 5 days, waking up at the stupid hour of 2:00am.... so I really am not sure how this will effect my performance today...

Andy, Myself and Shawn

Arriving in good time Helen drops us at the town hall, so we can register and do our bag check. The same location as last year, so all familiar to me. 

A warm welcome from lovely Nici Griffin and then chat to James Elson before kit check. A new feature of a token to show the kit has been checked before I collect my number. 

Myself, Mark and Shawn 

Catching up with Bosh runners Andy Nuttall, Mark Griffiths and then meeting Tremayne Dill Cowdry officially for the first time. We chat about future races and how we plan on running today. Mark hasn't been training so much due to some injuries but is still positive and looking forward to today.

Race Briefing. Just a few hundred happy and nervous runners
Some 250 runners squeeze in for the race briefing at 9:30. Some of the route is closed off to flooding (again) so James explains these areas in detail. 

Today I am attempting to start the Grand Slam for 2014. All four Centurion 100 miler races.

Race brief at Richmond Town Hall

All smiles waiting for the start

Making our way out to the river side and start. I speak to a few other runners who remember me from previous events and twitter. I then locate Sunday and Helen, waiting with anticipation. I wish Shawn all the best and to enjoy the day. 

Going for Salomon trails today
Kitted out and ready to go 

With seconds to go, the sun shining down, a cool breeze, just a perfect start to the day...

The Start (photo by Francis Tilley)

Just 100 miles to go... (photo by Francis Tilley)

I stay with a big group and aware to keep my pace down to a 9:00min/mile stride for the best part of 50 miles. I will see how I feel after this, perhaps pick up the pace after then...

Although the breeze is cooler, the sun is warmer up quickly and with low humidity I feel more thirsty than usual. The route is dry with just some mud in places. 

Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey

I chat to ultra runner Paul Ali about my first Viking Way ultra and his races for the year ahead. As usual he is very positive and happy, taking it steady. 

After 12 miles in and past the first check point, the route diverts over a bridge and away from the thames. I follow the runners ahead, then notice it is a private road. I turn back and then see Paul running ahead. He knows the way, I will follow him... 

Soon enough the route turns back along the river.

The legend Paul Ali on the right

Runnymeade park 

Memories from last year, I get flash backs along the route, as I pass familiar key areas and locks. After 3 hours running I take an S!Cap tablet and a shot of olive oil for the fat burning tank. 

Approaching Wraysbury I can see and hear my crew from ahead. It is good to see everyone and their excitement is very uplifting, even if I am feeling tired already...

I have some water, and check I have enough on me until the next check point. A few sips of BPC and some coconut water from my crew supply. 

Hugs and goodbyes I head back down through the park.

The ultra team at Wraysbury 22 miles

I text my family how I am doing and where I am so far in the race.

I turn on my podcast and listen to some Vinnie, that always picks me up and distracts me from my fatigue. 


The route feels too familiar, yet with summer like conditions, compared to last year, in the cold, sleet and wet. 

I get into a smooth pace and follow a road too far, before realizing I have gone off the track. I turn back to see where I missed the red tape in the trees. 

Lots of lumpy grass, leaves, woodland and then tow path occupy the section to the next aid station in Cookham. 

Coming into Cookham 33 miles

Already my legs feel like I have run a hundred miles, but I have only covered 30.... 

Today is going to be a long day....

I sip on some coconut water and coffee I have in my Salomon flasks already, a babybel cheese and another S!Cap tablet. My pace is a steady 8:30-8:45min/mile. It feels ok but not as comfortable as usual at this current distance. 

I start to feel every slight niggle and nag in my feet and ankles. The knees, however, after all the previous years of troubles are feeling great... 

After a long quiet spell down through the shaded trees, the familiar route looks so different in bright sunlight, compared to last year in the cold wet, sleet, then darkness. 

I go through what was the check point from last year, at Windsor and the finish area. Running under the bridge, which was a flooded Thames, is now a stoned trail and dry as can be.

The sun seems to be warming up the ground and the air feels dry and still. I feel rather overheated and more thirsty than usual. It is impossible to feel acclimatised to the barmy English weather of late.

Just one of the many sights along the Thames today 

Soon enough the trail leads to a country lane then into Cookham Village. My memory serves me well, as I know which turn is through the graveyard, the kissing gate and then along the river to the next aid station. Another runner follows me who was heading the wrong way down a private road. 

I can see Helen, Sunday, Will and Jay just by the Centurion flags up ahead. Cheering and clapping as I reach them. I check in with the race team and refill my water by the wonderful Bridgette. I have lost count how many times she has helped me at an event. A Centurion 100 mile race would not be the same without seeing her along the route. She asks how I am doing, which I reply 'my ankle is angry', 'well it is not like you done much recently is it Luke' she fires back to me, with a cheeky grin.

I have some melon and cherry tomatoes before giving Bridgette a hug goodbye, thanking the team as I leave. I check in with my ultra crew and have some more BPC. Will updates me with my position, I have moved from 37 up to 18th place. 

I am unsure whether I can keep on over taking the front pack runners. The same discomfort from my previous race is persistent in my ankle again. I try to not over think things through and get back into my pace. 

Coming into Henley

The route is very scenic and dotted with much activity along the river, picnics, walkers, drinkers in the pub gardens, dogs playing and kids on bikes. It feels like the perfect English garden. Usually I would feel so grateful, yet now I just want to stop and call it a day. 

I reach the next tree, or bridge, landmark, anything to distract me from my tired legs and body. The ankle is getting more and more angry with each step. 

A running dog charges at me, hitting my bad foot and nearly sending me flying over! I manage to catch myself and then through the next gate a passing spectator taps me on my shoulder. I have my headphones in so did not hear the shouts from behind me! I thank him and turn back, I have missed the turning over the river. I can then see a runner shouting my name on top of the bridge and waving. It looks like Paul. 

I soon cross the bridge and then catch up, It was Paul. I thank him for the heads up. Yet another error.  

No matter how many races I run I think I am cursed in wrong turns and adding bonus miles!

Henley on Thames half way aid station

I chat with Paul a moment before heading on ahead, keeping my head down. 

I soon pick up my pace slightly, although I am not sure how. On auto-pilot but with the dull ache in my ankle, words pop into my head how I am not ready to run 100 miles yet, I need to recover fully and rest that ankle good and proper....

The long and straight tow path leading to Henley-On-Thames is painful on the mind and the miles feel like hours ticking by. I can see a few odd runners in front and they are clearer in my vision as I approach nearer to them. 

Soon enough I recognise the flags and a small gazebo tent in the nearby field. Half way at Henley has finally arrived. 51 miles covered.

Time for shoe change and maybe some ice if possible. 

I see Karen, a fellow Bosh runner and volunteer at The Viking Way a few weeks ago. She greats me with congratulations and a hug. I grab a hot black coffee and my drop box, then head over to the bench on the waterside to meet my crew.

It feels so good to get the shoes off and put my ankle up for a moment.

More coffee 

I refuel from my goody supplies in my drop box, have some espresso chocolate coffee beans and reflect on the next 50 miles to come....

Sitting with ice (thanks to the medic) over my sore and now swollen ankle, I seriously consider the consequences of continuing through to the next check point. After too long sitting down, I get up and shuffle back along the path towards the next bridge. 

The ankle feels so tight now and is really not comfortable to run on anymore. 
I stop on the bridge, less than half a mile away, turn around and call Sunday. 

Walking back to Henley, I decide to call it a day....

With my drop box in deep thought about continuing further

I tried. Today was not a racing day for me, I felt fatigued from the start and to get to half way with my nagging ankle and my body spent was such a struggle as it is...

I figured I have the South Downs Way 100 in six weeks time, a race I have missed the last two years, and a local event I really have my heart set on to run. 

Rest. Recover and repeat...

The first 51 miles of the Thames Path

Andy later successfully finishes his 2nd 100 miler race, as does Shawn too.

Sadly Mark doesn't make it past the Reading check point in time.

Thank you to my fantastic team who crewed me for the day today. Helen, Sunday, Will and Jay. Will did splendid again following and tweeting my route progress from the Runkeeper Live feed. 

Cheers to Team Centurion

Thank you to all my friends, running groups and family for the support and words of encouragement. Thank you for following the show...

I would like to pay special thanks to all the volunteers, support, medics and team Centurion involved in making this weekend possible for all the runners involved. 

Many long, working hours are spent all through the cold night to attend to our every need. The help and support from these very special individuals is astounding at every event and every year.

You are all amazing and I raise my glass to you all. Thank you.

The Salomon fellraiser shoes are a little too snug over a 50 mile distance, and I couldn't wait to change into my Merrell Trails for more comfort.

A few days after the event my big toe nail got very bruised and swollen, with a blood blister underneath. I rarely get these and forgot how uncomfortable and painful they can be... 

It later went septic and 10 days later is still healing very slowly...

Ultra Luke