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Saturday, 12 June 2010

South Downs Marathon; Race report

Hopefully on the Ridgeway 85 mile race we don't attempt things that are too silly but today was a good laugh and a great day out....despite the issue with me bringing my bad luck to the arena of running perfection - the south downs.

The day started in QEII car park at the end of the Downs near Portsmouth. Immune met me in the car park and we caught the bus to the start. Deep in discussion about training plans (interestingly nothing about diet this time?!) mileage and what-not. We got on to discuss Garmins and I showed Dave the ding in my 310XT and that it would not be a good idea to do a triathlon as there was a crack in the glass, top right corner.

On to the start at Slindon College, despite a bizarre detour by billy the bus driver. Soon we met up with Sole Man aka Johnny Mac fresh from his tour of the MdS. It was like a who's who of ultra runners as we bumped into loads more people, Dave from Billericay Striders, South Down's Man and Mkie and George from ORR. George is incidentally using this as a cheeky taper for his Cotswold 100 mile challenge in 2 weeks. He looks amazing!! Then, shaking Johnny Mac's hand I realise my 310XT had fallen off....literally. No Garmin for the race, despite a search for about half an hour. Thanks btw, for the help Immune.

On to matters running and after a look at the course profile of 5728ft and a hot day, it was with intrepidation that we set off. The first 4 miles felt tough as they were all uphill to 650ft and on the Downs. Stunningly beautiful vistas punctuated with nutters on mountain bikes hurtling toward you and lots of walkers. Occasionally a relay runner would shout and charge past. CP1 was at the foot of a 700ft hill so a welcomed refuel and onto CP2. This time of year is amazing, nightingales and larks punctuate the air with trill tunes and the crops take on a wave like compression and rareifaction movement in the wind. We were bimbling along at theis point and at CP2 we made half way in 2.04. Leg 3 was the toughest and time to take control of the race. I had been feeling a bit rough from 1-5 and from 9-13. This soon somehow disappeared and Dave, who had been positively chatty got down to running the most difficult leg with me as we began to overtake more and more runners. At mile 18-19 Stuart Mills; of wave 2 came storming past up the hill and then across the top of Harting Down (a vicious climb) at 7 minute miles. Dave shouted out..."Stuart Mills", I turned round to cheer him on and promptly stacked it into the dust! Marathon 13 struck again! How amazing to see a 40 something balding Professor fly towards the finish. I was fine by the way!!!

Mad dogs and marathon runners go out in the midday sun. This was Immune and UltraBobban in the zone. 18-26 miles were our fastest splits for the whole race and mile 20 saw a 7.10 mile. We whizzed to the finish up and down, up and down just rehydrating on water as we had enough fuel to finish. This is 2 marathons in a row that we have blitzed the last quarter. Our splits from Dave's watch show this was the fastest part of our race. Indeed, my attempts at picking up a relay runner and allowing him to draft me down the hill for 1/2 mile while having a chat was just completely insane. Turkey mincemeat quads or what?!

Sitting down at the finish after a 4.11.32 with a beer and a chat with George was great. I managed to pick up a new 310XT from Up and Running in Dulwich for £ expensive day out but at least there will never again be a marathon 13.........

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