March in the racing calendar has Steyning AC host the Stinger in West Sussex, which is yet again another sold out event. A very popular off road race with the full and half marathon distance. 

Just under 200 runners arrived today at the Steyning Grammer School to
take to the mud and hills of the South Downs. 

I have the company of Sunday as support and crew today, sadly he missed out on entry for the half marathon but wants to try for next year. He has heard plenty of the amazing scenery and route it takes...

Once parked and inside the School. I collect my race bib and photo stickers for the Pics2Go that are free online for all runners. Another great incentive to attend local events.

We soon spot running friends and meet new Bosh Run members whilst at registration. I catch up with Darren, Nick,  Trefor, Shawn and Donna. Rachel from Gosport runners comes to say hello and to meet Sunday. 

Rachel discovered the Stinger from my previous report on my blog. Which is great, but also worrying if I have not been  accurate enough!?... 

Donna and Rachel are running the half marathon today. They are both very excited. 

Myself, Darren, Shawn and Nick

We are lucky with a break in the wet weather and slightly warmer temperatures today. The wind is still very strong and chilly but the sun is shining for us! 

Slower runners and walkers are allowed to start from 7:30-8:00 and the main group of runners can start at 8:30.

Trefor at the starting area

Shawn and Donna

Once ready, we all head on outside at the back of the school and to the muddy field where the start will be. Small groups at the moment are starting five minutes apart from each other. We chat amongst ourselves and soon enough it is 8:30.

We plod off down the muddy field, taking caution to not slip already. For some it's too late. Luckily I'm in my Inov8 Talon Trails to grip in the sludge. We soon reach a marshal at the end of the field and head up into the woods. 

The route is very much off road today. 

We run up a stretch of tarmac track before meeting gravel at Wiston House, then tree roots and ruts. The track is very wide so it is easy to get into a comfortable pace without crowding. 

The off...

I'm trying to keep around an average of 7:45-7:30min/mile where it is possible, but with the tough mud below I think it will become a much slower pace...

Some of the ruts cannot be seen through the mud and puddles, so plenty of us run through up to ankle deep.

Towards Chanctonbury

The woods are a good 2 mile stretch passing around Chanctonbury Ring before heading to Washington. 

Barnsfarm Hill

Once out from the muddy wood and steep climb it's out onto the open fields of the downs. The grass is very green and the sky is blue. Really picture postcard viewing. A group of Deer even flock away in the distance...

The Stinger route has four 'Stings' resembling steep hills. Some 3,000ft total of elevation changes during the full marathon. The half has two of the climbs.

Barnsfarm Hill at Washington 

4.5 Miles
Just after the first check point, at Washington where our numbers are recorded and a quick water stop. We follow the track uphill towards Chanctonbury. This is very boggy so it's much easier to hike/walk at a 14:00min/mile pace. 

I think the phographer has fun watching everyone suffer trying to reach the top! 

Once at the top and through a wooded area, over styles and back out into the open downs for a longer stretch just passing Sullington. 

The wind is strong and fierce high up and I use my buff to cover my face. 

Once reaching the marshal at Iron Barn we take a sharp left downhill through the fields and then reaching the next check point and water stop.

Just a few puddles

8 Miles
Once guided over the A24 bridge the check point is just by North Farm. Lots of supporters cheer the runners in here and I hear my name being shouted out, but I am unsure who they are...

Once watered the dirt track climbs up again before another sharp turn heading up back towards Chanctonbury Ring.

A group of runners join by my side and we all climb steady at a 9:30min/mile pace.

It is good to spot Darren going up this hill then further up I see Johnathan and Jane Wilkes. They all are looking strong hiking up the hill fast. 

Feeling good half way

Out onto the top at Chanctonbury Ring I can find my pace again and pick things up for some downhill. We all head down the stoned track to Lions Bank where the path splits for the half marathon runners. 

A runner falls over here, quite hard, but is luckily unharmed and picks himself up then carries on...

The full marathon route takes the track south across to Cissbury where the next check point and water stop is.

12.5 Miles
Once my number is recorded at the Cissbury Ring check point. I take some water with a salt capsule, then we head down the narrow track around the golf course. This is very steep and technical in places with mud and tree roots. 

My trail grips are still holding up well which is good knowing I am half way.

The track loops back around the golf course and uphill towards Cissbury Ring again.

Back at the same checkpoint again I am guided to the west and down another steep long track for a good few miles until reaching Bostal.

18 Miles
After some more water then another short and steep climb, before lapping around Steep Down.

The route heads on back down a track, through gates and then takes the northern track back up to Bostal.

I spot Trey here, who I didn't realise was running today. I recognise his running style. He is looking his usual bubbly self and really enjoying the scenery and nice day. Like myself he is using the route as good training for upcoming events.

Always good to see familiar running friends out at races. I will see Trey at the South Downs 50 next...

21 Miles
Just before reaching the check point again I have some of my olive oil, as I am just starting to feel slight fatigue and hunger. 

It is always around this time where I like to top up my energy fuel. I am a slow burner running on fats, so it takes me much longer to top up my running fuel...

Almost there...

The steep climb takes us back to meet the South Downs Way to Upper Beeches, where at 23.5 miles the track leads back down around the woods from the beginning. 

The decline is very steep, muddy and scattered with ruts and tree roots again. Although I am pulled down at a dangerous fast pace, I try my best to keep my eyes glued on where I am placing my feet.

After a mile I nearly miss the arrow sign and marshal to the left, where it is over a style and then a mile long stretch following the fence around the perimeter of the wood. Memories from the last Stinger come back to me and I had forgotten about this last section.

Very undulating and on thick grass, it seems to go on for ages before meeting the fields back at Mouse Lane near the School.

The last mile and the muddiest field

The last mile to go and the worst of the thick mud is now for everyone to enjoy. It is ploughed and big deep ripples of sinking clay, impossible to even walk in. 

I manage to somehow navigate around to the grassy side and try to loose some of the big clumps of mud molded around my feet. 

I feel so much heavier in my legs all a sudden!

Soon enough the muddy patch eases off and it is the last 400m back to where we started. I look behind and cannot see any other runner catching up. Actually it has been quite a lonely spell the past 5 miles now....

The Finish

I can see a small group of supporters and then hear the shouts and cheering. Once closer I can spot a Bosh tee or two then Sunday. Steve, Tina and even John Fitzgerald have made it along for the finish.

Rachel is here at the finish after completing the half marathon. She had an amazing race and loved the route and great scenery. We will see her again next year. 

Even Sunday has expressed his keen interest to try the half too.

Such a great surprise! 

Finally the end and I can rest the legs...

The Finish

Garmin check

Tough Mudder

9th Position in 3hr 44min

Full Marathon Results
Half marathon results

Just under 200 runners took part today and I managed a 9th position. Not my quickest time on trail but then this was far muddier than when I ran in 2013. I did say that I would rather use this as a training run today and not overly push really hard as I am happy with staying injury free and conditioned for other races to come.

Rachel finishing the half

The Wilkes at the finish

Shawn Timmons

I go get changed out of my very muddy shoes and put on a warm jacket, then go collect my medal at the School. I head on back to the finish to watch the other runners come in and thank the guys for coming down to see us all. 

Jonathan, Jane, Darren, Trefor and Shawn reach the finish soon enough. Caked in mud and tired but with huge smiles of achievement etched on their faces!

I say goodbye to everyone and have a well deserved breakfast back at the School with Shawn, Donna and Sunday.

Another marathon finish for Nick Jones

Nick soon comes into the School to find us. Very pleased to have finished yet another marathon. 

I think he has realised why it is named the Stinger...

Nick has certainly been ranking up the races and accomplishing a finish at every one he enters! Such a sport and natural. Well done.

Ultra Luke


The free well deserved breakfast once finished

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