|At front left in Black Courtesy of Jon Lavis|
We headed off over the Norfolk Bridge and turned left going through Ropetackle. We were soon on the old railway track that used to run up to the old cement works that we would be passing around 3 miles in. My pace was a little faster than normal for a start. my average pace was 8min/mi for the first 3 then I settled down to 8.30 - 9.00 min/mi for the next 3. I was enjoying the run and feeling quite comfortable and finding the going good. I think everyone was of the same mind. To get it done before the weather hit. There was not much conversation. Especially once we hit the mud!
|3 Miles and the going was good. Photo courtesy of Jon Lavis.|
Just after 3 1/2 miles it started to spit with rain and we was into the mud. I was working to effort and was avg 9 min/mi now. We came to the first check point at Upper Beeding next to The Old Bridge Pub this was at about 5 miles. I ran straight through shouting my number. As we got onto the path the other side it really started to get muddy and the rain started to get harder. I did not want to stop, but I did to put my minimus smock. A great bit of kit for keeping dry. I also took the time to eat some flap jack. I was fueling on gels flapjack and seasme seed snacks today.
|My Trainer was in there somewhere!|
Even though it was raining hard it was not to bad, I have gotten used to running in all weathers. I had settled into a nice pace, plenty of mud and puddles. I had long given up trying to avoid getting my feet wet. it was not going to happen today. Coming up to mile 10 I was making good time and was happy. At this point around 10 1/2 miles we turned onto The Downslink. It felt good to be on firm ground although very odd after having run on soft ground for so long. My joints and legs felt this change. After 11 miles we took a turn onto a main Road B2135 heading into Partridge Green. There was a Check point at The Darkstar brewery. I did not stop as I had enough water to keep going.
We got back onto The Downlink after a 100 yards or so. We was still on firm ground and I was enjoying the run. I was pretty much on my own. the field was well spread out. I would guess at around 13 miles I saw the race leader and winner Paul Sargent coming back looking very comfortable. The turn around was not to far off now. I made it to be 14 1/2 miles. The water had run out I just turned and head back saying hello to people I knew and some I didn't. The run was pretty much the same but the wind had started to pick up and the rain was getting heavier.
I stopped for a top up of water at Partridge Green. I was feeling good still and more than able to finish in good time. It was hard not to calculate my finish time, but at this point I was thinking a 4.20 - 4.30. I continued back on The Downslink, at mile 18 I got back onto the river. It was like turning into a different world from the shelter of The Downslink the weather had turned really difficult at this point. As I got 19.50 miles I checked my garmin and I was at 3 hrs run time. It was very hard going since I got back on The Adur River the wind was pushing into me and what with the rain and mud the race suddenly became unfunny. I kept running despite the temptation to walk.
Rain had even started to penetrate my Minimus Smock. I knew if I stopped to walk I would be at risk of hypothermia and the best I could do was to make it back as quick as I could. But in these conditions. Getting anywhere fast was not happening. The race had now become about finishing and not making a good time. The only good thing was just before mile 20 we headed over a bridge and started to run down the opposite side of the river. What was good about this was it was less sodden as it was up on a bank. Secondly it had not been walked over so much or had cattle or horses running all over it. The downside was as it was on a bank it was more exposed. I could see a couple of guys ahead. I knew how they was feeling! One kept coming of the bank to run by the river. Which was ok in places but muddy in others.
I was getting nowhere fast and just stuck my head down and kept going. I just wanted to get back to Beeding then I knew I did not have not much further to go after that. The wind was blowing and the mud was thick in places. Moments like this I get the odd thought of. What I am doing. The bit about having a mental health problem in the waiver came to mind. It made me smile and helped me to carry on.
I was soon heading towards Beeding some of the race organizer's were out on the trail warning of slippery conditions up ahead and to congratulate the runners for sticking with it. I crossed over the bridge at Beeding and was at the last CP. I want to thank all the volunteers at this point. Stood out in that wind and rain could not of been fun. I took a little time to have a few sips of coke and headed off on the last 5 miles.
It was a long 5 miles, I felt happy when I could see the Shoreham flyover. It did not look to far away. But of course the river was winding in and out and it seem to take forever to get there. I had overtaken one runner that had been ahead of me and as I ran down the path by Shoreham airport where the old gun battlements are I passed another who kindly clapped and said well done. I was glad to finish. I was soaked and just wanted to get warm. Luckily there was a warm shower and hot food on hand. A race I enjoyed and I hope for better conditions next year! I would like to thank Jon Lavis for the photos.