This has given a wide range of options and turns the day into a festival of running - with spectators and participants staying all day and enjoying picnics on the grass at the finish under Butser Hill, this really does feel like a festival.
Ultra Luke, Tina and Ultra Steve
Starting below Butser Hill at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, near Petersfield, the half marathon follows a route through the Country Park then across fields to the Village of Chalton before picking up the Sussex Border Path, bringing you to the South Downs Way. The route then joins the Full Marathon route running west for 4 miles on the South Downs Way back through QE Park to the finish.
500 runners mingling at the start
With friends Steve and Tina we make it to QECP with a good thirty minutes to spare. It is just as well.... I left my timing chip in the envelope at home. I luckily get a replacement chip at the race HQ, although I need to use a new number instead, but at least my race can be timed and recorded now...
The new race bib number
Over 500 runners start the half marathon event this morning...
Once we set off down the thick grass, up the steep slope to our right, to make up that extra 0.1 of a mile it feels like?.... then back towards the gate and the underpass.
Onto wooded trails before going past the cafe and then across the park road up onto the Sussex Border Path.
Five miles in
After leaving the woods and over a stile the route opens out to open fields and some steady flat tracks...
It doesn't last too long before meeting a few more climbs and cutting back into woodland trails and bridle paths.
The route is marked well with easy to spot arrows and marshals to guide us along the right path...
The route map
I jog and power walk some of the steeper climbs then make up time by racing the flat and downhill when possible. I feel quite warmed up by eight miles and keep hold of a water bottle from the second aid station.
Nature calls when on the climb back to meet the South Downs Way. I dive into the woods, which has cost me a minute or so...
55th Position 1:48:01
Once back on the familiar South Downs Way the track meets a Wiggle Cycling event coming in the other direction. Luckily not too many bikes bunched together and they share the country lane with consideration to us.
The route leads undulating back into woodland and then eventually for the last mile mostly down hill back to QECP.
I pick up some pace and manage to make this the fastest mile into the park.
Other Marathon relay runners start to sprint past me to smash some fast times.
Just some climbs then...
By 11:45 I run fast out of the woods passing the cafe again and then the under path that reaches the park back to the finish.
Lots of supporters and running clubs are all here cheering on the relays and marathon runners that are starting to come in too..
I sprint as best I can but in the thick grass it isn't the easiest way to finish.
I still feel strong enough that I could carry on, which is a good indication where my current fitness is at since picking up injuries of a DNF (did not finish) end of April at Hardmoors 160.
Another piece bling for this years collection
I am pleased with a 1hr 48min finish and no niggles or any trips or falls during the race.
I catch up with Tina, change into my winning tee and catch up with other running friends that are drawn to the big event today.
Steve comes in just over 2hrs and is looking strong and pleased with himself.
By around 13:30 running friend Nuala comes in finishing her 100th marathon, which now makes her an official 100 Marthon Club runner!
Nuala all smiles coming in to finish her 100th marathon
Congratulations to Nuala making the 100 marathon club!
It just goes to show that even at 50 years old anything is possible....if you put your mind to it...
What a superb Wonder Woman!
The Hardmoors Race Series take in the North York Moors along Cleveland and The Dales. The 160 miler event takes Cleveland Way route to Helmsley, until meeting the Tabular Hills Walk, for 50 miles, before meeting the Cleveland Way at the Coast.
The 160 is usually run in a clockwise direction but this year it clashes with Tour of Yorkshire Cycle race on the Sunday. The route needed to be reversed so to miss the road closures and congestion of the Cycling event.
The race starts at Sutton Bank Friday 17:00 and will run in anti clockwise direction this year.
After late checkout from Darlington it is a short drive up into Cleveland where the winding road climbs high until reaching Sutton Bank Visitor Centre in the National Park.
Heading for shelter and registration
I feel like I have been taken back to February!
I can cope well running in cold weather but when my feet start to get wet and damp, then I suffer. This particular event has had fair share of Trench Foot problems!...
Not overly hungry but always time for some eggs!
The sleet and rain stops just in time for the briefing at 16:45. The wind is still a bitter chill and we all huddle into the outside shelter for the instructions.
The race director John Steele explains in detail and with good humour, where to look out for the slight detours on route and what to expect along the way. This is the first time I have met him at an event. Nice man and well spoken.
I know of the man of Steele through running friends and social media. Like Mark Cockbain his running adventures and achievements are above and beyond, quite a legend in the ultra running world.
The Start begins across the road and looking out over the valley (as above) with a thick misty rain just about clearing. I chat to a few runners as we stroll over and Ronnie Staton, he has been coaching and is support crew for Jerome this weekend. He is one to watch this weekend!
The route starts along the ridge before heading steep down, into the woods, over slippy rocks and tree roots until the trail meets road. A marshal here checks our numbers and directs us back up a sharp left and steep steps onto the ridge top again.
The front runners disperse off quickly and I find a comfortable pace around 8:30min/mile on average to see how
I go for the night section....
Scenic Northumberland Coast line...
Hidden steps and woodland along the cliff tops
Ravenscar Mile 70
Yep! Feeling worn out...
Fighting the sleep