In short: Glad I was a support team and not a participant! In full: A tad worrying that just because I and a friend were wearing high viz jackets that runners thought we were organisers! However, if we hadn't been there for some runners they might still be out there or worse still under a car! Definitely in need of signage on the roads and could really do with marshals at some of the busy junctions as runners in the zone could easily wander straight out! Date of review: October 8, 2008
In short: Tough but tremendously rewarding experience In full: Even without the terrible weather this would have been a tough race. A combination of having to navigate 56 miles with a lot of climbing made it a challenge both mentally and physically.
It was very well organised with good support along the route and a warm welcome at the end from people who had been out all day. Thanks to all who helped in any way.
This was my longest run and I'd have to say it was a tremendous experience and this race has potential iconic status in the running calendar.
If you're thinking about doing it next year... I'd advise doing it with a running mate with a support team at least at checkpoints 2,3,4 and 5. Also you don't need to overdo the training. We did 4 weeks of 60 - 65 miles including a marathon and our longest run (30 miles) in one week. Although we were tired at the end, we still had the energy to up our pace in the last six miles - so although we were exhausted we must have had something left!
If you fancy an ultra you'd have to go a long way to beat this one.
In short: in short one of the hardest and most challenging events I've ever undertaken In full: Really enjoyed this one. The rain and wind and mud all added to the adventure with the added difficulties of finding your way. It must have been very difficult coming up with the route which passed through some amazing country side. The highlight apart from finishing was getting to the top of Ditchling Beacon and just as we got to the top there was break in the cloud and mist leaving increeible views looking back to where we had come from. The organisation and the support from other runners was superb from start to finish. This event has all the ingredients of becoming a classic.
In short: Tough wet and very long In full: Take this on without a full recce of the route at your peril. Take this on without a complete support crew at your peril. Take this on without a huge desire to finish and you will fail. Not the best organised event I have ever done but certainly the toughest. My running buddy and i did just manage to finish in joint 81st place. Officailly the last finishers but we made it! Date of review: October 7, 2008
In short: Hardest race I have ever run In full: This extremely hilly, multi terrain town and cross country race is the hardest run I have ever done. The web site describes the weather conditions as making the race truly punishing, which in parts it was. It rained right from the 7 am start in Greenwich Park. We wound out of various London suburbs for around 9 miles, whilst having to navigate by map all the way. We hit the first check point comfortably inside our target time somewhere in the middle of the 190 or so runners who set off. The cut off times were a little tight given the distance. We arrived at 18.5 miles at around 3 hrs 25m, drenched and filthy to be met by an angel in the form of a supporter with supplies and a clean t-shirt. I couldn't bear the thought of trying to peel my socks off but a warm t felt good, for about ten minutes. Met my supporter again at 25ish and cruised through 28 miles feeling good in 5hrs 45m. We made a number of errors in navigation at various points and had to stop frequently to work out bearings. Still, only two miles extra, which is better than one lad who did seven!! Slowed a lot in the third quarter which wasn't down to lack of fitness. The trails, particularly on the hills, had by this point been turned into either mud baths or long wide puddles that stretched often 50 plus feet in front if not more. There was very little hard ground and even the fields were saturated. Difficult to walk let alone run. Fantastic scenery though and actually great support at various points. Hit the 4th checkpoint slowing down and the 5th bang on 11 hours - which meant the previous 19 miles or so had taken a slow 5hrs 15min. Still only 11 miles to go at that point. Major problems though followed. As we were about an hour off target and getting slower due to the conditions, we were caught in the dark. We collected a lost lady runner on route and only had my head torch between us. We still had Ditchling Beacon to climb and before we reached the bottom it was pitch black. We had no chance of seeing the trail and had to walk across unlit and unmarked fields. I would guess it took us around 1 hr 45m to cover about 4 or 5 miles. We somehow managed to get to the top of Ditchling and were warned by a supporter that the marshals were pulling runners due to the time and conditions. There was no way in the world I was being pulled at 50 miles and we set off running down the main road having picked up luminous torches from a supporter. The last 6 miles will stick in my mind for ever. We were very tired, soaking wet and at the end of our reserves. The three of us ran most of the way with very little conversation save to discuss direction. All you could hear apart from the traffic, was the sound of 3 sets of feet pounding the pavement getting nearer and nearer with every step. Our compatriot even seemed to pick up the pace at one point. And then the finish. Fantastic. Out of the 190 or so starters, only 81 finished. This was a truly remarkable experience and one that I am very glad to have had. Hopefully Luton marathon should now seem like an extended tempo run, although I suspect not!!
In short: It's tough and you have to map read but that adds to the sense of achievement. In full: The weather made this tougher as it rained the whole way. It was my first event of this kind and I managed to not get too lost with my map reading skills! Others didn't get on so well. I would recommend this event if you want a mental and physical challenge but not if you have a hopeless sense of direction! Good organisation and support as well as comraderie with fellow runners. Date of review: October 7, 2008