Friday, 20 June 2014

Arun River Marathon .

This was to be my third outing with Sussex Trail Events in the past year. And this was another inaugural race for Chris Etes Danny Cunnet and Jay Mcardle race directors for STE. I had recently spoken to Jay whilst running the Thames Path 100 4 weeks ago. Jay had said that one of the reasons the guys had started to put on events was so that they could have local races that they could run. But with so much going on behind the scenes with organizing a race this had not happened.

As I said I had recently ran the Thames Path 100 and I was unsure how I would do running a trail marathon so soon after. But I had recovered well and was interested to see how my body would respond. I headed off from Brighton with some other ultra runners Andy Pumphrey and Cliff Dragone. It was good to catch up and share the journey with others. We arrived at the scenic Littlehampton marina in good time. This let me catch up with other friends. Maria Pali. And Tremayne Dill Cowdry we I had met on The Thames Path 100. Luke Ashton and Sunday turned up next and it was just like a familiar gathering.
Luke Ashton and Shawn Timmons.

We had a race brief that outlined the route which seemed very straight forward I had looked over the map a few times. Also from previous experience of running with STE I knew the course would be well marked and easy to follow. 

The race started off at 8.00 am I was up front and the first mile fairly easy going. The leaders soon headed off in front of me and I found my pace and after a mile running alongside the River Arun we came upon quite a bit of the path that was overgrown and made it hard going. After a while the energy from legs just seemed to go. It was mainly long grass and weeds. Also the path was either muddy or churned up underneath grass. The river wound its course and I was soon coming up to Arundel. This was just over 4 miles from the start. I was enjoying myself and my mindset I had was to run the race and just enjoy the day.

Getting into Arundel and some firm footing was nice. So was the shade from the buildings, a welcome relief from the sun. I took the chance to look at the castle and take some pictures. Soon enough I was on the river bank and running nice and easy. No one for company, I decided to put my iPod on. Not one to normally listening to music at an event I thought I would give it a go.

At 6 1/2 miles I arrived at the first check point. This was in the car park of The Black Rabbit Public House.   This part of the route was quite scenic. I was guided by a couple of Marshall's to the aid station which was shaded by trees. A quick stop for water and some food and I were soon off again and back onto the river path. By now I was pretty much running on my own. The next couple of miles I followed the winding river path enjoying the views and the sun on my skin.

Just after mile 8 I came to a little place called South Stoke it had a few houses and barns here, very rural. This is where the route takes a detour crossing over a bridge and on to the opposite side of the river; I was now heading into the cooling shade of some woods. After a short while up ahead I could see a small bridge crossing a stream after a few paces onto the bridge it felt as if my legs were about to give away! But I soon realized that the bridge was a suspension bridge and it was bouncing up and down as I moved across.

The Bouncing Bridge!

Out of the woods and into a filed. And onto The first hill of the race only a small one but what a nice change it felt. It was a fantastic view. I took a moment to take some pictures.  I have run a few long flat races recently and have now found I much prefer the hills. It’s just easier on the legs with using the different muscle groups employed in going up and down on the hills. I was soon on the river again but not for long.

Funny Face moment.

I was now coming up to amberly.  I had to get on a narrow bridge and cross the B2138. I was careful of the traffic.  There was no pavement. This had been in the race brief and course instructions sent out by STE. After a short while I left the River Arun behind me for now. And found myself on the South Downs Way. Home! I have run most of the SDW and cycled the whole route. It’s a great route and it felt good to be running on familiar territory.  After about 1/2 mile I had to cross B2138 again and run up a fairly long hill that was on road. I believe this was called Titten Hill, this part of the route was where it got hilly form mile 11 - 13 1/2 later on this hill race leader Paul Sargent passed me coming back he was looking very comfortable. And on for the River double having come first in the Adur River marathon.

Titten Hill lead on to Rackham Hill. I saw Luke and Tremayne coming down the hill it always good to see people you know on route. I kept going and was soon coming down the other side. I had worked out that I was around 12 - 15th place. But as I made my way down the hill a runner coming back up informed me I was in 9th place. This was great news for me. It put a spring in my step as I raced down to the bottom of Kithurst Hill and the turnaround point. There was a very well stocked aid Station here. The Water Mellon went down a treat. Jay asked me how the course was. I said it was a little tough at the beginning. But it was well marked and easy to follow.

I was feeling good as I headed off from the turnaround point. I was determined to keep the 9th place. I was also happy as I was feeling good physically which showed me my level of fitness had returned quickly after the TPP100.  The route was the same way I had came, I am pretty good and remembering course details so I had no real problem on the way back. I just ran to effort. I remember at one point thinking I should get a move on as the sun was getting hot as the morning progressed. 
Black Rabbit Public House.

I was pleased when I made it back to the Black Rabbit pub. I could feel my legs starting to go at mile 18. My pace from here started to slow. Coming out of Arundel it felt like the energy just dropped out of my quads. And on this section I had the overgrown grass and uneven ground underneath to negotiate. I kept pushing on and thinking I had a decent lead I put in some walking breaks. After a while I could see 3 people gaining on me. With 4 miles to go the only option was to keep running as I just wanted to hang in there and come in the top 10 for a change!

It was a small field of runners, but keeping my position was what was driving me on at this point. I was short on water the sun was hot and I was getting dehydrated. My stomach was starting to churn. I kept looking over my shoulder but the guys where catching up with me where not stopping. In a way they did me a favour. I had to dig a bit deeper and push myself. As I rounded a corner I could see another runner walking. He looked how I felt. Going through waist high grass was hard work. After a few minutes I passed him saying hi as I did. I was now in 8th place with 2 miles to go.

I was feeling really sick now. It’s funny now but not at the time it was not. I can just see myself running along the river bank trying to throw up. I have been like this before. All you want to do is be sick but nothing comes up. So I had to contend with dry heaving and running. Over the last mile or so I kept my pace. The others were not gaining on me. At one point I remember thinking. If you’re feeling tired so are they. Just keep pushing.
The Finish

I was glad to see the finish line and cross it. Danny welcomed me in and gave me a goodie bag and medal. I said it had been a great run and course. It was good to see my friends Luke Sunday and Tremayne.
Tremayne Dill Cowdry Shawn Timmons Luke Ashton

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