This race is billed as a challenging self-navigated off road run
from London to Brighton, facts which I am not sure I really
understood when I entered. The more people I spoke to, the more
horror stories I heard about checkpoints being abandoned and bags
just left at the end, and the more concerned I became.
The fact that the map book only arrived 3 weeks before the race
was not terribly helpful either, especially since I had begun to
recce the course as per previous years and there had been
significant changes. In fact I was more worried about getting
lost than running the distance.
However, I did manage to run the course south of the M25 in bits
and pieces prior to race day, which calmed my nerves
Race day was a 6am start in Blackheath with registration in a TA
hanger full of fit looking people and the discussions of previous
races began. It is pretty difficult not to doubt yourself
when surrounded by multistage desert racers and people using the
race as training for the 400 mile Arctic Yukon race, but too late
to back out now..
I have to say the run was scenic, even through London. The
course ran through Lewisham, Bromley and to the west of Biggin
Hill, crossing the M25 just north of Limpsfield Chart, then east of
Edenbridge and East Grinstead. The run then goes via Wych
Cross to Horsted Keynes and then through Chailey Common heading
south to cross the Downs at Black Cap, then through Falmer to
The 5 checkpoints were well stocked with water, bananas and in
the latter stages cakes, biscuits and also cold roast salted
potatoes dipped in tomato sauce which have to be one of the most
delicious things known to mankind when running this
I managed to go off course 3 times (once was in Ashurstwood
which is a part of the course I had run in training) but nothing
too terminal, adding 1 or 2 km at the most and was never running
alone. The people were friendly and happy to chat as we ran
which was encouraging and also useful as many of them had a great
deal of ultradistance running experience. I did meet 2 other
people who were also doing their first ultra and both finished just
ahead of me. I was pretty amazed at the number of experienced
runners who were happy not to look at their maps and just follow
inexperienced people like me, especially when I was joined by Rob
and Jamie, acting as tour guides for the latter stages of the
Overall, the run went pretty much as expected for me. I
was comfortable until about 35 miles and then began to tighten up
as we climbed from Weir Wood reservoir and it was then that Rob and
Jamie's support was invaluable. Rob ran with me for about 15
miles from mile 31 and Jamie joined us in Horsted Keynes at about
mile 40 and ran to the finish.
I enjoyed the day, despite the pain. Interestingly I
learnt that it is possible to run through pain and out the other
side to a stage where running is actually more comfortable than
walking (although up hills are still very difficult after 50 miles
with weak legs). I was pleasantly surprised that, even when
we were within a mile or so of our house, I was not tempted to
crawl into bed with a cup of tea!
The low point was leaving checkpoint 5 knowing that I had the
walk up Black Cap ahead, but thehigh pointwas reaching the top with
Jamie and seeing not only the sea, but also Steve and Kay, which
was a real boost. I knew then I could get to the finish and
promptly ran past 3 other runners, one of whom tagged onto Jamie
and I and then finished with me. He was a French guy called
Sebastian and a mutual thumbs up was our signal to each other of a
job well done.
As I look back I am not sure I would do it again, although as my
legs recover I could change my mind..
All I know is that I could not have done this without all the
encouragement from everyone I know. It is fantastic to belong
to a club where people don't tell you that you're mad when you
suggest something like this. Claire Cresswell deserves
special mention for getting me to start running on the Downs and
Rob for training and company on the day.
I will be forever grateful to my amazing husband Jamie for
putting up with my training and for his help on the day. Not
only did he run about 20 miles with me, he kept my spirits up and
force fed me jelly snakes on a regular basis to keep me
going. He always knows just what I need and that is just one
of the reasons I love him.
- 3 runs a week in training
- Longest run 35 miles
- Time to finish 12.24 (cut off 13 hours).
- Not sure how far I actually ran (Garmin packed up after
- Number entered 290+, 196 started and 88 finished
I finished 58th (7th female)