The start of October saw us running from Salisbury to Winchester along the Clarendon Way, a pilgrim route that links the two ancient cathedral cities by running over some very beautiful Chalk landscapes with very little in the way of roads to break up the countryside. It's a local race for us so there were lots of our friends out on the course, and the Hares also had a relay team entered so it was very social.
I ran the marathon with my friend and fellow Hare Susie. It was her first marathon and as I'd written the training plan for her I felt I ought to give her some support on the day as well. In the end, we ended up doing the whole thing together and it was one of the most fun days I've had running. We joked afterwards that what we actually did was have a five hour chat with a marathon in the background :o).
Three weeks later and it was Beachy Head marathon. This necessitated a 4:30am start and a two hour drive up to Eastbourne mainly in the dark before we managed to find a parking space on the sea-front, a ten minute walk from the start.
The weather was a bit different for this one- it was blowing an absolute hoolie and rain was threatened for the afternoon. Two of our friends were getting married half-way round the marathon (in their running kit) so it was lovely to be able to see them at the start.
Beachy is a tough race, I found it harder than Snowdon marathon because the hills are constant right from the start. There isn't much flat land so you're either going up or coming down right from the get-go. It's a very popular marathon with 2000 people running it, mainly because there is a generous nine hour cut off. The downside to this was that I got stuck behind some much slower runners for the first thirteen miles and couldn't get into my stride at all.
After the half marathon point many of them dropped off and my race got easier. By 16 miles I was feeling properly warmed up and had started enjoying myself. There was a fab aid station at 17 miles which had a band playing and food on offer, everyone there was very cheerful. Unfortunately, at around 18 miles my IT band (a sheaf of fascia that runs from your hip to your knee) started complaining at the constant steep descents and I spent the final eight miles alternating run with walk in an attempt to not stress it too much. This was fine as the final six miles are over the Seven Sisters- a group of hills which go from the Cuckmere valley (which was awash with flood water) all the way to Birling Gap: up, down, up, down. People around me were finding the relentless climbs and descents tough but, apart from my ITB, I was feeling OK. The wind got even stronger and actually blew me up three of the hills! Never had that happen before and it was a strange experience. I'm glad it was blowing inshore!
At Beachy Head I texted M to tell him I wasn't far from the finish (he'd whipped round in 3.5 hours) and I eventually crossed the line in 5:11- not bad given the hills, the weather, the underfoot conditions, the fact I'd done a marathon three weeks before and that this was my sixth in five months. It is a belter of a race. Now time for a bit of a rest before my next ultra at the end of December.
Hope all are well?