If the Martinque X-Trail is anything to go by you will trash your shoes, so you may want to use an older pair... I wore newish trail shoes which were OK, though their waterproofing works against you when the shoe is full of water/mud. Easy to clean afterwards though. I run about 1:40 for a half - Martinique took me nearly 1:30. That was partly because I took it steady not knowing what to expect. There are no mile markers, so it's difficult to judge your time, and the atmosphere seems to be less about pace, more about enjoying the event. I wasn't disappointed with my time - it's nothing like road-running. Good luck!.
Hey Muttley 2, didn't catch your post until now. A couple of people mentioned Hellrun to me at Martinique, but I dunno anything about it. Sounds proper hard core though... Poppyhill may be more hills than mud, but it 'll still be a laugh if as well-run as Martinique (though my calf muscles will say different afterwards!).
Mr Immune - if the Beachy Head marathon route goes straight up the cliff from the beach, I think this run might be ideal preparation!
Interesting to hear that many people don't run these events 'by the watch'. As I'd never done this kind of thing before, and have been running on the road for 25+ years, it took a bit of getting used to, but I enjoyed it and I tend to agree with you guys - it's better just to soak up (hah! literally) the experience, and not get obsessed about minutes and seconds.
I dunno about the Garmin debate, never used one, but sounds like fun to play with afterwards if you can kinda record what you've done.
My first trail run, and it was hugely enjoyable. Just when you were wondering how much wetter/muddier it could get... along came the X-Zone! When there's a photographer lurking next to an 'innocuous' looking pool of mud/water, you KNOW there's a reason - I leapt in and promptly fell over as I was trying to get out of it...anything to oblige!
As a newbie, I wasn't used to the absence of mile markers, though I had no idea of pace anyway so it didn't matter so much, though it would have helped to know how far you had to go to the finish in the later stages when fatigue was turning your legs to jelly.
Like others, I must congratulate the organisers - a superb, quality job, and a great goody bag too. They even arranged for fine weather!