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Sunday, 4 May 2014

3 Forts Challenge Marathon

I've not been blogging anything like I have done in the past. No time. Not really ever. However I thought it was high time I fed back on the race I completed today as it was a special one. Marathon #50. A belated BD pressie to myself.

A good Saturday evening carb load and a reasonable sleep followed by a decent brekkie and I was en-route to Worthing in the cold but clear sunshine. On arrival I was surprised to see the largest field I've seen on the 4 3FMs that I have done. I had to park miles away. This lateness and a queue to pick up my number meant that a fleeting conversation with David Thompson at the start was all I could muster before the klaxon. The start is always a great leveller, with its narrow 734ft climb up to Cissbury Ring. The last 2 years I have lamented this climb, having run the Bewl Marathon the previous day. This year, I enjoyed the run up it.

No sooner that I had crested then a welcome hello from Jen who I had met at the Tanners 30 earlier this year. She was looking on form with her 'A' race of the NDW50 coming up in 2 weeks. We ran together on and off for the first 8 miles or so, mainly punctuated by a long chat with Steve Barnes who I didn't know who was running. Always good to catch up with Knockholt's self-styled hellraiser himself and glad to hear his training is on good form.

Between us lay the formidable 720ft climb of Devil's Dyke, from sea-level tidal River Adur. Upon crossing I recalled the 50 mile point that I retired from the SDW100 in the summer needing to go to A&E after smashing up my face and arm 15 miles back in a fall. Today, buoyed by caffeinated gel and sunbeams, I realised I had run the first 8/9 miles faster than my lack of training would carry me. I dropped down a gear and ground out the undulating climb punctuated by steep descents up to Devil's Dyke switchback, mainly now with Steve. A recurring 'shoe malfunction' set in. Something where the insole of the Invov8 popped out and up my Achilles, driving its foamy wedge into said tendon. Race admin required on the first of 4 separate occasions.

Back down to the Adur was a welcome high 5 with John Kipps, on marathon 98. Congrats to come buddy! I then entered a 5 mile grind fuelled with dehydration, thousands of horrible flies (particularly near the ever expanding pig fields above Botolphs) and a headwind. I struck up conversation with a couple of chaps but neither they, nor I, appeared to be in the mood. Calling upon the Dark Arts of race focus, a period of walking was soon far behind as I began the ascent of 792ft Chanctonbury. The top revealed a checkpoint, where copious juices were quaffed, cake washed down and from this 21 mile point, the chance to run with my awesome running buddy Helen Smith. We exchanged plenty of banter, except when she went into insane downhill mode and it took nearly a mile to catch up with her. We got a real good clip on which oddly, except for miles 2-7 was my fasted of the race. I love this last 6 miles or so....perhaps as much as any marathon I've run. After Chanctonbury, a 2 mile descent, a 500ft ascent and then some flats, all at good pace, followed by another ascent of Cissbury with a welcome last checkpoint at her base.......a swift climb and then Helly and I went for the brakes off brain off 2 mile 700ft+ descent, overtaking at least 20 people in the process. Utterly awesome! The time was not amazing. 4hrs26 for the 27.5 mile 3800ft course. However faster than my 4.32 last year (although that was the second of my B2B marathons) and bearing in mind on no training, I've got to be pretty pleased with that. Still don't know how I did 3.43 on this track?!

This is the first time I've had stiff quads for ages. Normally I don't get them. However I am looking for a sponsor for sun tan lotion. I had factor 50 waterproof on today. Burnt to a crisp! Anyone recommend a factor 100?!!

Marahton #50 DONE!