I think it is my forth attempt at this amazing hilly trail half marathon (ascent 1,700 feet). I suppose that says it all. Each time is different according to the weather and the general aches and pains of life. This year Pen, Liam, Grit, Alex, Kerry and I took part. John was overwhelmed at work and couldn’t make it. It had been wet during the week and a front was due to pass over the Downs during the race. There was a lot of deliberation as to what to wear. In a strong wind it can be pretty cold on the ridge if you are soaking wet. I went for a Devold Expedition long sleeved merino top and a cheap as chips waterproof smock. I wore long Nike running trousers because I needed to dose my right leg with ibuprofen to dull off some long standing pain – in shorts it would have just washed off. I took off the waterproof top at the top of the first Sting and rolled it up and tied it around my waist. I was pretty hot until a blast of rain and hail hit us then I got pretty cold but never bothered trying to put the smock on again.
The Salomon Speedcross shoes were superb and I overtook loads of runners on the slippery rutted chalk downhill stretches just because I had fantastic grip. They probably knocked five minutes off my time.
OK so the time wasn’t great but it was better than I thought at 2 hours 15 minutes (TBC). Pen pulled in first at 2 hours 3 minutes and Alex and Kerry came in at 2 hours 12 minutes. Liam was hampered by slippery footwear and came in just after me. Interestingly everyone who ran last year came in 5 minutes later this year due to the conditions. It really is a struggle to get in before 2 hours!
To stay locally or to drive down in the morning?
Well we stayed locally but I think I’ll drive down next year. The problems with staying in a B and B are threefold. One, it is very hard to get a big pasta blowout meal the night before. We ended up eating a very nice burger in the White Horse but it wasn’t ideal. Secondly, it is always hard to sleep in a new place. I hardly slept at all. Thirdly breakfast on a Sunday starts at 08:00, just too late for the start.
I think my new policy will be, if the run is within about 100 miles, just drive down on the day.
I’ll be back next year. It is the best organised race I have ever attended. One day I’ll get over the line in 1 hour 59 minutes and 59 seconds!