#247 - South Downs Marathon Race Report

Marathon #247 South Downs Marathon done, a lovely sunny day over the downs... again! Third time doing the event and managed to knock 15 minutes off my best time there so that was good! Nice to chat for most of the day to assorted souls that helped to pass the miles and the time at the beginning and a yummy burger at the end, can't be bad... those hills I swear though are getting higher and higher! lol


This one was entered fairly late in the day really as initially I was in for the SDW100 which is the following weekend and was considering a weekends rest (not to mention there is only so many times I can bear going up and down those South Downs hills!) but with the GUCR debacle and Rachel needing to run #101 to debut her shirt it became a fairly obvious choice to do as its one of the nicer events around even though its point to point which always adds several hours of messing about and hence don't tend to be my favourite ones ever!

We rocked up at the finish a fraction after 7:00am (for a 9:30am start, see what I mean about messing about?!) and was horrified to see that they were setting up the finish about 100m further away than it had been in previous years! lol But a few seconds later Lisa Hewitt and Ellen Cottom rolled in to the car park too so the next couple of hours of bus ride and hanging around were spent chatting with them and a whole host of others at the start area (with obligatory bacon roll!) and fortunately for the third time of doing this marathon it was a lovely sunny June day. I suspect it would be a rather different view if it was pelting down with rain mind you!

This in fact was 4 weeks since my last marathon, the longest stretch since early 2010, two weekends of volunteering/rest at the NDW50 and Kent Road Runner Marathon and the 85 mile DNF along the GUCR... had been the activity between #246 and #247.


I set off right at the back as was waiting for Rachel who was held up in the baggage truck queue and off we went together round the track to the little bit of uphill before hitting the downhill road. This bit always makes me puff dreadfully, and of course try not to look too utterly worn out for the people cheering us on! lol 50 yards after the start there was a girl wearing some "tigger ears" on her cap and I made a comment about wanting a pair of those (Rachel bless her had given me her cap as I'd left mine in the baggage bag! Less chat more paying attention Traviss!) and it turned out to be an Australian Marathon Maniac, Nancy, who I'd bumped into at her last marathon at the A20 Marathon the previous November.

There is a real nice downhill at the start of this that leads to a never ending up hill so as usual I flew off down the hill saying hello to a few familiar faces as I passed, most of whom of course would be catching me up later! The 7:30 pace didn't last for too long of course as the road ends and the trail begins with the first long drag up hill that basically lasts for about 4 miles. I was settling in fairly well and legs felt good which was pleasing. They should be of course as this was my first marathon for 4 weeks (OK I had told my legs to forget the 85 miles at GUCR!)

I managed to keep up a steady trot till the very end of the ascent when like everyone else around we gave up and marched up to the top! That really set the pattern for the day, running up hills till I got tired out and nice steady running on the downs and flats. The trail seemed rather stonier than I recalled so was glad I had gaiters on but still had to stop twice to fish "stones" out of my shoes. Turns out in the end it was actually an old blister that had disintegrated and the skin was folding up/rubbing on the bottom of my left foot which got a bit sore but nothing serious.

About mile 9 Nancy caught me up again and we spent maybe the next 6 or 7 miles chatting away about this and that, she was struggling just a shade as hadn't managed to run a great deal since her last marathon and that gave me an easy excuse to walk up more hills than I possibly should have but the sun was out, nice breeze and all in all it was a pleasant way to be spending the day!

At the foot of one hill Nancy stopped to check on the bears and I went on ahead and from then on chatted to a few souls as I passed them (or vice versa) including one chap who was doing his first marathon and another who had passed me at about mile 24 the last year too! I was impressed by his memory as he told me my finishing time to within a minute!

I'm sure in the past the aid stations were better, just water and some rather odd gels this time, none of which I bothered with so soon went through my Clif shots/gel and little Clif bar, wasn't terribly hungry on route but was by the finish. Could probably done with a few more calories in I suspect but was all good really and 5 hours later I was at the finish. Would have been a couple of minutes quicker but stopped at mile 26.18 to have a chat with Nuala Smyth who'd just done Comrades! Much to a few people's amusement, 5:07 or 5:10, doesn't make too much difference to me!

At the finish had a chat with her some more and cheered in some folks as they came in and then sat down and had a yummy egg burger thing which lasted about two minutes as was pretty hungry! Oh and a bit of cake...

Was pretty pleased with my days work as about 15 minutes quicker than my previous best time on that course, despite it being longer! Was perhaps hopeful of a sub 5:00 but the legs started to feel some "deadness" from about mile 22 which rather slowed progress over the last few miles and swear blind there are a few extra hills at the end there! But for two weeks after a long ultra it wasn't at all bad, lovely weather and lots of chatting with running friends, what's not to like?!

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