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Saturday, 9 June 2012

South Downs Marathon Report

froth out by ultraBobban
froth out, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
Off we went in the marathon machine with myself, the amazing Mrs UB and Lily, to the SDM on possibly the sunniest day for ages. Having looked forward to it for ages, there was no sense in me not running the marathon, despite a bout of illness this week. I would take it easy as the girls ran the half (starting with a tough climb of nearly 800ft straight up Butser Hill!) so at least I could recce for the SDW100 in 21 days time.

No sooner had I arrived in Slindon for the point to point marathon start than I was able to catch up with John Kipps, and then a good old chat with Helly D, Chaz and none other than 100 marathon legend Johnny Mack.

Helly and I were in the last wave of runners to leave, of which I clearly stated I would be lingering near to the back. Off up and up Westwood Down from near sea level to 699ft on a long, long drag. I knew what I was letting myself in for having done the race before. I was travelling light as I was not hungry in the slightest so overtook loads of people up the Down. I then had to stop and walk and dart in to the bush for an unscheduled retch. I felt a little better and was hoping that the multicoloured anomaly would have cleared my system and I would be able to enjoy the rest of the run......

Up to the top of Sutton Down at 799ft and then another unscheduled stop, not far after the first water station at 5 miles. Lucky I had a Lucozade tropical with me to wash the sickness out of my nostrils. Time to carry on.

The next couple of miles were good miles. I wasn't in a chatty mood, just one foot in front of the other and head down with a job to do. Off Scotcher's Bottom down to about 300ft and then back up to Woolavington Down at 790ft. The next unsheduled stop was near Teagleaze Farm, about half a mile later where the rest of my breakfast joined the South Downs Way. Luckily I had someone else to stop for and check out here as a chap who had gone in wave 2 had tripped over a root, dodging some mentalist cyclist who had "route one" and to hell with the runners. Cock. A couple of other runners helped him up as he had a bloody face and was clearly shaken. He told us to carry on and a chap with a mobile called for help and stayed.

I felt that the smell of vomit might not help. The route undulates through woods here so was nice and cool out of the sun. Time to see if I could manage a drink....No! The last retch convinced me that the 13 mile checkpoint at Cocking would be my first DNF. Sadly, looking up to the summit of Didling Hill at 814ft was lovely, with a trail of day-glo miature figurines bobbling up the hill from the halfway point, spurred on by the recently quaffed gels at the marshall point.

This meandering mindset reminded me that I was probably dehydrated by this point and I should follow my head and not my heart. I managed to find 3 lovely ladies who were driving off to CP3 at Harting Down. After I checked with the marshal that it was OK to leave the course, I bailed. Despite the sickness, I managed the first half in a pleasing 16 minutes quicker than 2 years ago.

The ladies were supporting their brother/BF/nephew and were very posh and it was his first marathon. I gave them directions and we had chit chat for 6 miles about running, tennis and maps. Then I commandeered another ride to the finish from Matt and his wife and kids and friend who had been running the marathon relay. All very posh but all very nice. Good luck to the both of you brilliant runners and supporters.

And then I had to speak to the organiser to give them my number as a DNF......really sad point as I might have been able to finish.......but I also could have ended in hospital so now am feeling glad that I did.

So.....lessons learned......

1. Mind bikes on the SDW. Most are nice but some think they own the track and are cunts.
2. When people say that some parts of the Downs are easier.....this bit is not true for this section. It is a beast and will strike.

3. There is more shade here than nearer to Brighton

4. Don't run marathons after a heavy bout of food poisoning.

5. Hitch hiking is the new black


  1. Hmmm, I am not sure if I should congratulate you for starting or for stopping Rob. However I know the exact predicament you were in but it was sensible you did stop and if it was me wouldn't class it as a DNF :-)

    1. Thanks Jerry. I feel much better this evening and am eating again