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

1 comment:

Please add your comments here. I would like to encourage discussion on running, training and nutrition. Luke