24th March 2012
Birling Gap, Sussex
26.5 miles, 4218ft ascent/descent
Held over and around the spectacular South Downs, when I woke up to see bluebird skies I knew this was going to be a great race. I was nervous about my knee pain kicking in again and ruining my run but had invested in the strongest ibuprofen gel I could find which I slathered on a few minutes before we set off. Pre race I got a chance to chat to James Adams who recently ran across America and next week is running the Barkely 100 mile race (one of the hardest races in the world – only 9 people have ever finished within the cut off time!) and Russell Secker who amongst other things has completed the Trans Europe race. Both inspirational runners who certainly got me in the mood for out little jaunt across the Seven Sisters.
At 9am we set off in a westerly direction and as my race ‘strategy’ was to walk any steep hills, I was overtaken by a fair chunk of the field straight away. Its difficult to stick to this when everyone else is going quicker than you but I was just hoping it would pay off. It took a few miles to settle into the run but by about mile 4 I was feeling good and enjoying the fab views and weather. I ended up running several miles with a Serpentine runner Toby who was a complete gentlemen (opening all the gates for me!) and before long we were at the half way point topping up our water supplies.
I listened to music for most of the second half and kept to the ‘run the easy hills, walk the steep ones’ mantra. This worked really well for me and as we looped back near the start and headed along the cliffs east towards Beachy Head I had enough energy in my legs to really power up the hills and start to overtake a few people. I felt good as we looped in land again (although the last aid station had run out of water and I made the difficult decision to keep going rather than wait five minutes for supplies). Endurance Life can be a bit cruel and this race was no different, we were a few hundred meters from the finish line before I realised there was another mile or so loop to go! My knee pain kicked in on the last mile but I was mentally home by then and was chuffed to finish in 4.40, 5th women and 35th overall.
We finished the day by attending the Endurance Life Live More Lecture in Eastbourne where Russel Secker, Mimi Anderson and Danny Bent each gave talks about their incredible endurance achievements. All three talks were great but I have to say that I was particularly excited to hear Mimi’s story and chat to her for a while. She really is an incredible lady, take a look at her blog to learn more but just a few of her achievements include holding the female world record for running from John O’Groats to Lands End (840 miles!), holding the course record for and being the only women to complete the 6633 Extreme Ultra Marathon in the Arctic and the first female to have completed the double Comrades. Wow. And a lovely person to boot.
So a fun and inspiring day had by all. I feel that little bit closer to the Trans Alpine but am also more aware than ever how much my training will need to step up. My next scheduled race is the Bournemouth Bay half marathon next weekend, here’s hoping for a new half PB! Kris (whose photo’s I have borrowed again, thank you!) also had a great race coming 8th in the Ultra.