The 3rd Centurion running event of the South Downs Way, starts just outside Winchester, Hampshire. Heading through southern England, taking in the breathtaking, rolling hills, picturesque villages and views along the national trail. The route finishes in Eastbourne. 

After a smooth check in at registration, the night before at Chilcomb Sports Ground. I set up my one man tent for the night. The forecast is good tomorrow once the rain clouds have lifted. 

The lovely Nici Griffin from Centurion has kindly let me kip in her tent porch, as she has a palace all to herself... I use my tent for my supplies. 

Here comes the storm clouds...

By 11pm the rain starts, then the thunder and then the lightning... I remember eventually nodding off, but with a very broken sleep.... then my alarm sounds at 4:30...

Thankfully I feel rested enough and like I have slept in, as the past week my early shifts at work start at 4am. I am feeling the damp from all the rainfall, which has not eased off yet. 

I try to eat my breakfast, which consists of a cold set bulletproof coffee mousse. I was quite looking forward to trying this as I have no means of boiling water, so this was my only alternative creation. My mood was soon destroyed after the first bite! It was pretty gross, and very difficult to get down. I soak it up with plenty of water and an avocado to take away the odd taste....

Lucky number today?

I quickly dismantle the tent in the rain and get dressed into my kit. Already registration has plenty of runners queuing up. 

I brush my teeth then pack everything into my finish bag, and take it to the van along with my two drop boxes. One for 54 miles and one for 69 miles. 

The bulletproof has settled and I can feel it working the energy releasing magic.... ready for running long! 

Chilcomb sports ground

As the rain slowly stops, more faces appear from shelter. I decide to join the growing line for the outside toilets. I spot Treymayne as I walk over. It is good to see him again, discuss the race and ease some nerves. But In good spirits and a sense of calm still. 

Treymayne is surprised in my footwear choice of Luna Sandals. After the storm last night, I am beginning to think otherwise.

My Brooks Trail shoes are with Sunday and John. Ready for the halfway point.

Meanwhile I see Colin, a mutual friend from up north, I wish him all the best in his first 100 miler. I then see Bridgette, who usually is a volunteer at Centurion events, yet today she is running. Looking rather nervous but well. I make sure to give her a warm hug, as she has looked after me at a fair few aid stations over the years, so it is refreshing to see her as a participant today. 

Bridgette Groves running for a change today

Joining the line I then see the Run24/7 photographer with his partner Kirsty. We chat all things running and future races. It's rather like being around family in the ultra world. Always a sense of peace and calm before we start...

The line moves slowly but eventually we get our turn as the race brief starts. Just a few diversions on the route to take note of, but will be clearly marked, as always by Centurion. 

With ultra runner Treymayne Dill Cowdry

With just seconds left to go, I set my Garmin and Runkeeper to Live broadcast, so friends and family can track my progress. 

With a fast start the front pack shoot off, Stuart Mills sprinting away like he is running a 10k race....

After a lap on the sports ground, the route takes to the narrow track through fields and then up the steep road to the South Downs Way. Fresh in my mind from last week I know the path already.

The mist is clearing as the clouds lift, but a damp humid is left thick in the air. 15C yet already the moisture is making me feel warmer. I'm glad I removed my jacket. 

After navigating around some fields and through woods, the miles pass quickly enough until the mud thickens. Then everything slows down for me. The wetter the mud the more my sandals slip and slide. I try to run on the grassy sections to avoid a nasty fall. 

I keep to a steady 9:00min/mile pace and chat to a few runners in the group around me. We all have the same approach to walk the steeper climbs, saving our legs for later...

Mile 10
Beacon Hill Beeches
Soon enough we reach the first stop. Numbers recorded, a few cups of water before heading on through the woods. 

The track gets more narrow and the bog below is like a death trap over tree stumps. My pace drops as I try to grip my footing.

Amazingly I stay on my feet and not my backside! Once the track gets wider I pull over to remove my sandals. I run barefoot on the mud then onto the grass edge. It's so much easier right now. My mood is low as I feel fatigued from all the technical terrain...

At 14 miles I text Sunday to ask for the change in shoes. Eventually the mud eases off, the mud dries and I put on the sandals.

Some breathtaking scenery is surrounding me with many cows to add to the picture. But the sloped hills and steep descents make the sandals so uncomfortable. 

More mud follows.... 

I tighten the straps as hard as I can and push my pace quicker, so to get to the next stop faster.... 

Queen Elizabeth Country Park comes around soon enough and brings back memories of the South Downs Marathon of last year. The landscape is truely stunning. 

With cheers of encouragement from the spectators nearby, the route swings into a car park and playground for the next aid station.

Dill at QECP
Mile 22
Queen Elizabeth Country Park
Rank 46
At 9:37 I am so pleased to reach Sunday and John, ready and waiting.

My number is scanned by the team this time and I refill my bladder from my Salomon SLab5. 

Time to get these sandals off, and the trail shoes on!

I wipe most of the mud away and then add lubricant to my feet. John remembers he has some injinji spare socks in his car, we are the same in shoe size so he comes to my rescue!

10 miles into the South Downs

John's lucky green Injinji socks

After some coffee with cream and some cheese I am ready to get moving again. Runners are coming through the aid station fast, and I have spent too long here already 

I thank the guys and will see them at the half way stop. After the first steps my feet feel like they have landed in heaven. I can get back to the race and not have to worry on my feet anymore.

My mood is much brighter and a big weight has been lifted...

I follow the track along the road deep into the park. I spot ultra runner Paul Ali and ask about his amazing GUCR finish, just two weeks ago!

Queen Elizabeth Country Park

Mile 27
Harting Downs

Shortly after the rolling hills of the downs, the route takes to the woods and under shaded trees, which is cooling and pleasant. I keep up with Paul and we get confused on a path where the tape has been moved. Perhaps from angry cyclists littering up their tracks! 

We realise our error and return back to the road. I see Kirsty looking strong and really enjoying herself. She is doing great time and is confident for the rest of the day. 

A few runners spot I have changed my footwear and ask is that beard naturally blonde?! 

The trail shoes are such a relief to the sandals and I am grateful I can finish the distance in these....

The usual dusty chalk of the South Downs Way

Mile 35
The temperature is warming up and the sun is starting to shine through. I take another S!Cap capsule with plenty of water. Then nibbling on some cheese and olive oil to top up my energy. I find in the warmer conditions I consume less food and just drink more fluids and salts.

My pace and time is going to plan and I am feeling good and comfortable enough at the moment. Although some of the rolling hills are starting to fatigue my legs already...

I catch up with my crew Sunday and John at Cocking the next checkpoint. They relay all the positive feedback and kind words of encouragement from family and running friends. Facebook has become the South Downs Way show today! 

Feeling the climbs

Mile 41
Bignor Hill
Although some steep climbs on this leg, I really start to enjoy the sights and the route. It brings back memories of running the South Downs Marathon, but in the reverse direction. The weather has warmed up but a clouded shade has offered some relief. I think I have got my hydration levels on form now and keep my salt levels up.

Just past 50 miles and half way into the race

Mile 50
Kithurst Hill
I meet a few other runners up ahead and wish them the best when passing. The track is very stoned and rugged in places. I am back on home soil (almost) and the route is now very local to me. It would be hard to go wrong from now onwards...

Reaching one of the river bridges I see two figures acting suspiciously by the gate. At a closer glance and on approach I see it is Sunday and John paying a surprise visit. Moments like this really make a race special and to appreciate the support from my fantastic crew...

 Surprise visit from Crew Sunday and John at Amberley

After feeling pretty good at the half way mark, fuel and pace seems to be going to plan, I reach Amberley and a fellow Viking Way runner keeps me company during the steep climb towards Washington. The clouds turn dark and then heavy rain falls. Brave supporters cheer us along the road, sheltered by their umbrella's. 

I hold off from removing my waterproof jacket, just to see if the shower stops anytime soon.... eventually it does and the sun soon comes out to dry me off. I never got the chaps name, but he did look familiar. He said he will be back next year to tackle the Viking again.

Mile 54
10:47min/mile pace
Rank 29
At 15:42 I reach the half way aid station, at the local School. To the sound of cheers and clapping when I come around the corner. I spot Bosh volunteer Karen first. A big smile across her face, she greets me with a warm hug and congratulations. 

I see a big wall of familiar faces in the driveway. Will, Jay, John, Dad, Sunday and Bosh runner Michelle. I hug everyone at a time before making my way inside to get my drop box and some water. Kevin, another Bosh runner is volunteering here today and is pleased to see my arrival. 

After changing into a fresh tee, cap, adding my headlights and water top up. I fuel up with some energy mix and cheese. A few cherry tomatoes and cups of water before I feel ready to get back on the route...

After running for almost 10 hours, I still feel strong and focused with my hydration levels in good check.

Washington 54 miles

In my zone

Mile 61
At this aid station I come in feeling strong and fresh, considering the clouds have opened up to strong sunshine. I think as the route is the home stretch in my mind, psychologically it feels at ease on my body.

I get to meet Bosh runner and volunteer David here, and we chat whilst he helps refill my water and add a NUUN tablet for me. I left my bottle at the previous stop. So fortunate that some is stocked here. I am not feeling the need to eat so just sip on coffee before heading off. 

David is a nice natured person and it is good to finally meet him in person.

Botolphs at the River Arun

Crossing the road and up the trail towards Devils Dyke. This steep climb has been on my radar since my first trail marathon and ever since in training. Still a mission to accomplish, but very rewarding on the eye once reaching the top. 

Once at the cross road and the small car park I see my crew. A nice surprise and refuel on some choc covered espresso beans (sugar fix), coffee with cream and some olives. I am going to be so buzzing by the next stop! 

I start to chat too much and Sunday reminds me to go and get a move on... I hug Will and Jay and thank my dad and John for all the great logistics today.

Map reading and logistics from my support crew

On my way again and i can see a few runners in front. Once I reach them I see it is Dill and he has a companion with him. He has his hiking poles out and looks to be putting them to good use. It is good to catch up with him, but i wasn't expecting to see him until perhaps come the finish... he is in good spirits but his body and legs have took the brunt of the days rolling climbs, so he says, although he still looks very strong to me and reached this far looking so fresh....

It is good to catch up with him and see him still smiling. I bid farewell to them both and plod on up the road, head down and ready to reach devils Dyke shortly. 

I chat to a few dog walkers along the way, some are astounded as to how far we are running today. They hope I make it and wish me luck. I reply 'oh I will now, got this far already!'.

Mile 66
Saddlescombe Farm
After a nice long flat and then down hill section from the Dyke, I reach the next stop at Saddlescombe, in a cute barn area with a warm welcome. I top up my water, with help, take another S!Cap, have a black coffee and some cherry tomatoes. A few brazil nuts then I bite into a jelly baby for the sugar fix, before spitting it out. I find just a little sugar trickle this late in the race keeps my brain focused enough but without the sugar crash side effect. Gels are just laced with way too much sugar!

Thanking the superb volunteers and following the track through the farm it is over towards Pyecombe next.

Mile 69
Clayton Windmills (aka Jack & Jill)
11:06min/mile pace
Rank 21
I have been running for almost 13 hours. The time is 18:55. 

At the windmills I get to see Bosh running friend Darren, who kindly fetched my drop box for me and purchased some black olives and coconut water for me, as requested. A few of these and a spoonful of my Energy mix from my box, I think I'm good. I top up my soft flask with the coconut water. 

Although my body is starting to fatigue from the day running, my mind and outlook is buzzing and wide awake. I love the endorphin high endurance running creates.

I nibble on some nuts, and drink a strong coffee while chatting with Allan Rumbles and the other volunteers.

It's good to see familiar friendly faces and once I leave I meet Graham Carter, who has been following my progress the last year through the likes of Twitter...

Looking to Lewes Downs at mile 72

Just reaching the Beacon and I can see a small group in the distance, then a big black flag with the words BOSH. I feel a lump growing in my throat and over come with emotion. It is Steve Amiet holding the flag. A good running friend and his wife Tina. 

They are joined by my crew and I can see Will laying on the bank taking pictures. They all cheer and clap at me once I approach. It is such a warm welcome and great to see everyone. This really has made my day!

BOSH support Steve at Ditchling Beacon

Ditchling Beacon (photo by Will Tucker)

Ditchling Beacon (photo by dad)

I drink some coffee with cream and catch up with Tina, she walked a marathon last night for breast cancer awareness and is still rather tired but happy to see what the ultra runners do! I thank everyone and the Amiet's for making the time to come out and see me tonight. I hug everyone, and again Sunday reminds me I have business to attend to and to get going...

I will see the crew again at Southease...

BOSH crew

Shortly after the beacon the track becomes dusty and rocky in places. Familiar with the terrain, I still trip and scuff my feet from fatigue in my legs. I miss my footing eventually and stumble over, skidding on all fours and scuffing my hands and shoulder. 

It hurts but nothing I can't handle. No signs of bleeding so I carry on carefully. A runner and his dog stop and call back if I am ok. 

The evening is coming to a close and the sky has that pink and purple turn to it. The temperature is cooling and a breeze is sweeping across the downs. I enjoy my local route and enjoy some music, picking up my pace and feeling strong. 

A nice flat, then steady downhill section before a steep muddy climb into the woods, then the track heads down to the A27.

I speak with Sunday and tell him I am ok after my fall. Still concerned he asks if I can take it steady until the track becomes smooth again. 

I am looking forward to catching up with him shortly, he is waiting with my crew at Southease, ready to pace me until the finish...

It is not until I reach the next aid station that I feel the graze on my shoulder and the bruising in my right hand. 

Mile 76
Housedean Farm/A27
A smaller aid station and less on offer this time, but I still manage to pick out some of my favourite nuts whilst refilling my water. I take another S!Cap capsule. I explain to the crew my fall and how dry the tracks can be. 

I try to find out how I am doing position wise, and the team think I am around 20 or so. Not really my best place but it is still early and lots more left to cover...

I think to finish strong and safely is now my goal after falling over. I thank everyone and head on out over the A27 and up another climb towards Castle Hill.

Falmer mile 80

Sunday calls to check up on me after falling over and would rather I take it more steady until I meet him at Southease. I think it is about 4 miles away yet. I take in some of the glorious skies and watch as the day changes to dusk and then slowly to dark. 

Dusk over the downs

I have a shot of olive oil and eat some coconut chips with macadamia. I start to get some appetite back, which is a good sign. I have a bite of a 9Bar for a little sugar trickle. 

Approaching the yellow brick road that leads over to Southease, the breeze picks up and the sky turns to a deep purple. I turn on my headlight and push on trying to pick up the pace. Not easy after 80 miles but I try as hard as my tired legs will allow me...

End of a day on the trails

Mile 84
11:17min/mile pace
Rank 17

Southease with the crew at mile 84

Slowly the day comes to a close and the dusk becomes dark. 

Greeted with a warm welcome from my crew, Sunday, Dad, John, Will and Jay. Sunday is in his running kit ready to pace me to the finish. 

Our local friends Lucy and Mark are also here to give support to the fellow runners. It is great to catch up with everyone and share my day with them. It is hard to remember I am in a race and the clock is still ticking....

Ultra running friend Shawn is here and helps me refill my water. I nibble on some nuts, picking out the almonds and brazils. Few sips of strong coffee and some water, feeling fueled enough and ready to keep on the go. 

Still feeling fresh and strong

Meeting pacer Sunday

We say our goodbye's and head on uphill towards Firle and Alfriston. Sorting out headlights and marching the steep mini mountain, it is good to catch up with Sunday over the days activities. I can't keep up with all the messages and tweets being sent out, but it is always appreciated and grateful. All very over whelming. 

All that can be seen is the few other runners shining white lights ahead and the eyes from cows and sheep. it freaks out Sunday at one stage, as a little too close for comfort.

What feels like hours is actually only 7 miles later and the dimly lit village of Alfriston can be seen below in the valley. 

The track leads down a steep chalky road before coming out to houses then the village. All still very familiar and then down a small alley and into the next aid station...

Mile 91
Greeted by a very warm welcome and our No1 running fan, Alma Botes, as volunteer at this post. Sunday takes a seat and has a hot coffee. I refill my water and nibble on some olives and cheese, courtesy of Alma. we chat about the day and how great it has been. Slightly dissapointed of the overall time it has taken to reach this far, I am pleased to not have any injuries and still feel strong enough to reach Eastbourne. I haven't exactly been training hard for this one! so luckily my fitness is getting me through...

After hugs with Alma and thanks to the team, we head on out towards Jevington. The route is slightly detoured here, as the bridge is closed, so we run along the river bank until reaching the south downs way route again. 

Greeted by dark woods and a beast of a climb, I challenge anyone to run this leg....It is brutal and I am not the only one suffering the torture.... Sunday, although a marathon runner, has just picked up his mileage again and on occasion suffers with ITB. Well tonight it is nagging and he starts to feel he is letting me down as a pacer. 

I find that talking is a good distraction and I am buzzing from the night and coffee, so it changes my outlook and I forget, for a moment that I am actually a race competitor and just out enjoying a training run through the night. 

The woods soon disperse and lead out to open downs, high up and breezy. The track is very dark and it is hard to concentrate on the floor. Luckily random post markers are dotted apart and the trusty glow sticks that Centurion provide help guide us the right way. 

I am not so familiar with the section and only know the other side of Birling Gap and East Dean towards Seven Sisters.   

Mile 96
After some time the track leads back down into woods and skims fields, over styles and through gates (lost count how many today).

A dim glow of red light shines up through the trees ahead and then we can hear the sounds of music and chanting. Great a midnight rave is what I was thinking, but then the words "pain is temporary and pride is forever" is called out by a small group of teenagers. They cheer and clap as we approach and head on over a small bridge into a field. 

I've never witnessed this in a race before during the hours of darkness, but it really was a buzz and lifted my spirits. I love how these events bring everyone together! 

After reaching a small lane, fairy lights and a blue glow shine up ahead. Jevington aid station is here and felt like forever coming...

Follow the orange spray paint

I'm good for water and have plenty of cheese slices and nuts still in my pockets on me. So I have some melon and cherry tomatoes to tied me over until the finish. So close now, I really am just focusing on reaching Eastbourne than picking on the wonderful picnic display. 

Sunday has a coffee then is ready to go. His ITB is not great but manageable. We thank the team and head on out up the lane, before the track leads steep uphill into the downs again. This is an alternative route that leads eventually into a housing estate then to the athletics track. 

The climb is another mini mountain, or what feels like one on my tired legs. It is nothing but blackness out here and just our headlights guide the way. 

Once reaching the top, a small light can be seen, then a marshal pops out from a tent. He leads us in the right direction and advises to follow the orange arrow marks on the floor and glow sticks until out of the woods. 

Straight forward enough but I still manage to take the wrong path before realising my error. 

Soon enough other runners approach so I follow them. I feel my feet carrying me faster and my pace quickens. I really am ready to finish. With just a few miles left I can feel the anticipation spurring me on to run faster. Sunday is really suffering now, and decides to let me run on ahead with the other runners. He has slowed to a walk and doesn't want to hold me up. 

One lap on the track to the finish

I keep up with the two runners once out of the woods and following a street that then leads down an alley around some houses. They pick up pace and must be going 7:30min/mile as I can't keep up, or want to with still a few miles on road to go...

Out the alley over the road and then the long stretch towards the finish. It's strange to see urban life, street lights and cars again as I've been so used to running in big open space of darkness for so many hours. The runners in front are now long gone so I look out for centurion arrows. 

Finally I see a marker over the road that leads to a cycle path. I cross over and take the path. It brings back memories of The Wall Ultra finish that bored me silly. It's not my favorite watching endless lamp posts into eternity. 

Just a few more minutes and the path opens to the entrance of the athletics tack. I dodge the drunken couple, who stop to see who is running up to them. Racing over the road then through the car park and into the gates. 

I can hear cheering and clapping then the bright flood lights and track. Someone shouts out 'come on Luke one lap to go'. This must be the hardest but most rewarding ending to a day of running 100 miles. 

After the last bend I run towards the finish awaited by a big hug from Nici to congratulate me. I can see my dad, John, Will and Jay out the corner of my eye as I go to collect my medal from the Marvellous Mimi Anderson. 

Eastbourne hugs

I ask John if he is happy to go and find Sunday as he has been suffering with his leg. He has been such amazing support crew today and really has a natural gift for this! I would be so grateful if I can return the favour one day, and crew for him. 

I am looking forward to spending some more time
Pacing and crewing for my ultra friends in the future. 

Happy to come in 23rd position in a time of 19:29:28 although not a PB today. 

I lost a few places towards the end when walking, but considering I hadn't been training hard, or added the mileage to compete in this race today. I am chuffed to have been fit enough to see it through to the finish and injury free this time! 

My 3rd 100 miler is complete.

I would like to thank my wonderful support crew for all the hard work, logistics and knowing what I needed before I actually did! (Sunday you truly are a natural at this and have been amazing). Thank you Sunday, Dad, John, Will, Jay, Shawn, Lucy, Mark, Steve, Tina, sister Sam, Helen (for the kind words of encouragement). 

Big thanks to the awesome Centurion team James, Nicci (tent wifey), Alma, Karen, Michelle, Kevin, David, Darren, Graham and Allan. 

Finished 23rd place in 19:29:28

Yay! another 100 finish at last

One Day buckle

Ultra Luke