South Downs Way 100 Miles
Winchester to Eastbourne
We got to the camp site start line a little bit earlier this year as Emelie was taking part in the kids one mile fun run. She was great, didn’t stop once, ran the whole 2 laps and received her medal.
At 5am and the alarm sounded. A quick shower, Gurney GOO applied to hopefully help me stay blister and chafe free. A Bulletproof coffee with butter and octane oil, two croissants and a Baby Bell to keep the routine the same.
Trying to stay positive before the start as my legs were still feeling heavy from the 145 miles of the GUCR, which was only two weeks ago. Also my inflamed Achilles tendon on the right and shin splints on the left were a worry but I still wanted to try and enjoy this run. I had been told to start slow and take it easy. I was just looking to finish without being broken as I have another race in two weeks time.
Waiting at the start line the temperature was slowly rising but there was a slight breeze, the butterflies in my stomach were increasing and then we were off!
One lap of the field while chatting to Jez and gaining some tips on how to tackle the run after recently finishing the GUCR. Then we disappeared through a hedge and out onto the trail.
The first 9.6 miles went past without too much fuss, I was quite happy with the pace and was holding my own. Legs though, were not happy, the shins and Achilles were letting me know.
I settled in behind 6 other runners, trying not to trip over tree roots while making my way along a wooded ditch. We then all emerged onto a track, looking at each other, and then realised we had all missed the turn about a mile back.
Now with head racing and angry at myself for going wrong, we all made our way back to the turn. There were now many runners ahead of us.
The next 10 miles went past quite quickly and I made my way towards the Queen Elizabeth Park to meet up with the crew. On the way I was able to improve my position and got to the crew point in 24th place. This had to be a quick stop.
With fluid on board, a bag of fresh fruit and cup of Coke I started the quick walk/run up through the park.
By the time I reach Hartland Downs crew point it was starting to get very warm. More fluid taken, tray bake, more fresh fruit and a cup of Coke and away I went again, off through the gate onwards to the next hill.
Now my Achilles and shin was starting to hurt. I found uphill climbs pulled the Achilles and downhill slopes pounded the shins, but as long as I watched my footing I was still moving forward.
Some hills were stepped and they gave me the chance to walk as in the heat I didn’t see any reason to kill myself this early on in the race.
Cocking (mile 35.1) was the next aid station. A quick refresh, hat off and a wet buff on my head to try and combat the heat. With more fluid and food in hand I started with a steady walk uphill and then started to run again.
The course was undulating a lot at this point and I needed a quick top-up of water at the next aid station at Bignor Hill.
Amberley was the next aid station along the course where Leanne was able to apply more anti-inflammatory cream to my shins. I also took some pain killers to try and subdue the pain from the sore Achilles.
The aid station at mile 50.1, Kithurst Hill, seemed to come along quite quickly. I ran straight through and continued onto Chantry crew point where I was met by Sue, Leanne, Emelie and my new run partner Edward Peacock
A quick ice cream, it was very hot by this point, and with some more fruit and coffee in hand Ed and I started off on the second half of the run. For some reason, maybe the heat, I started to feel sick and had a heavy feeling in my stomach.
We set a steady pace and got to Washington aid station at mile 54 without too much trouble. A quick turnaround and we were off up the long dry slope towards Piggy Hill. There wasn’t much air and the temperature didn’t seem to be dropping much, aside from this I was still feeling quite sluggish.
We were starting to catch other runners as we approached the aid station at Botolphs (mile 61.2) where we were greeted by Sarah and Tom Sawyer, who I last saw on the GUCR two weeks previously.
With great cheers we set off up hill and onto Devils Dyke.
I had to stop several times to stretch the Achilles and now the inner left thigh as well as this had now started cramping due to a change I had made to my running stride. Still feeling nauseous.
Emelie and Leanne were waiting at the top of Devils Dyke with iced water, fresh fruit and more pain relief. A quick refuel and on towards Saddlescombe Farm, aid station 9. Here it was just a quick break and then straight on towards Clayton Windmills which this year wasn’t being used as an aid station so that saved a run down and then straight back up.
Instead 2 more miles found us at Ditchling Beacon crew stop (mile 72.1). I was now starting to feel a lot better and I had passed my low point.
Leanne took over from Ed to become my pacer for the next 14 miles.
Over the next set of hills the temperature had started to drop quite a lot and this allowed me to pick up my pace. The only thing stopping me reaching my best pace was the pain in shins and Achilles.
Leanne caught me up after stopping to take photographs of the amazing scenery. We climbed up through the wooded area and quickly dropped down into the aid station at Hosedean Farm at mile 76.6.
We grabbed a picnic box of food and set off over the bridge to start our climb up to the Concrete Mile. This is a first time for Leanne, she’d never been up there before. She couldn’t believe the scenery, it’s fantastic.
Onto the Concrete Path and our pace got a lot quicker, trying to make up time and get to Southease aid station (mile 84) as quick as possible, knowing the climb up over the next hill would probably slow us down.
Over the railway bridge, which killed the legs once again, and a quick refuel from Emelie, Sue, Hayley and Mike. We also bumped into a fellow Spine Race runner.
Off up the hill and the last 2 miles for Leanne as we passed the radio mast and into our last field.
We were met by a herd of cows, and a rather randy bull, which I was not going to stop for under any circumstances! We found a gap in the fence and went into the next field.
Crew stop Firle Beacon (mile 86.4) and Leanne was ready for a stop. My friend Hayley joined me to run the last 14 miles into Eastbourne.
Off now into the darkness and the temperature had dropped quite a lot and I changed into a long sleeve RAB running top.
After a long rolling hill section we dropped down into another field, this time filled with sleeping cattle that seemed determined to block our path. We slowly made our way between them, trying not to wake them up with our head torches. Before we knew it we were at Alfriston (mile 91.6) aid station. We didn’t stop.
After a climb up we were in pitch dark and the legs didn’t like the footing so the pace slowed slightly.
A fast drop down hill between trees and we outside the Jevington aid station (mile 95.7).
We were told there were no other runners inside so we ran straight through, turned left, up the last incline, all the way to the trig point where we found the second pace female just reaching the top.
We quickly found the right track down and trying not to fall and break anything this close to the finish we were down into the back alleyways where we found another runner slowly making his way to the finish. We passed him and ran on to the finish where my last pacer was waiting to run me in. My little Princess Emelie had woken in time to take over from Hayley and ran me around the track and over the finish line.
A great race, especially after the GUCR two weeks before.
Still learning and still enjoying.
A massive thank you to all of my crew, without them I could not do what do.
Leanne, Emelie, Sue, Ed, Hayley, Mike and of course my mum for looking after the other kids while we are away.