Sunday, 17 May 2015

Arun River Marathon.2015

Arundel Castle.

I had booked up to run the Arun River Marathon after running it last year. It's a scenic, mainly flat marathon hosted by Sussex Trail Events I have run a few of the events hosted by Jay, Chris and Danny over the last few years. The races are low key, friendly and local, all being in Sussex.
The race start is at Littlehampton Marina with on site parking for the 100 runners which is the race limit. On site facilities include toilet and showers for end of the race. Plus a stand up breakfast at the cafe which is included in the entry, all good value. 
I travelled over with my friend Luke and fellow ultra runner. With the race being local it was nice to turn up and know quite a few of the other runners. I felt relaxed and said hello to people, It's nice to catch and with people you only see at races. 
Picture Courtesy Jon Lavis
L- R Luke Me Ian and Darren. 
The route today is an out and back, following the River Arun past the beautiful Arundel castle and Amberly. We would then head up onto the South downs. The turn around point would be Kithurst Hill. I was not sure if I would run the whole route. I had run in the Thames Path 100 2 weeks ago and had not really given myself much time to recover. Today would be about a personal challenge to see what I could do!

Picture Courtesy Jon Lavis

Nearing the Black Rabbit.
I set off at a nice easy pace, my legs felt OK, just some slight fatigue.  I was soon distracted by the beauty of the route and the scenery that you see as you run along the river. I checked my pace and I was under 10 min/mi. I did think I should maybe slow a little. Last year some of the grass had been quite high and made the running hard going. But with the race being two weeks earlier and less rain this year it was very runnable.I was soon at Arundel, the field was not too spread out. When you get to Arundel you head through the town, it was fairly quiet. I took time once back on the river bank to enjoy the view of Arundel castle and take a picture. The first aid station was at The Black Rabbit public house. I had a quick cup of water here and took an S-cap. It was warming up. The route from it just as beautiful, I stopped to take a couple of pictures of North Stoke that looks like an idyllic Sussex hamlet. The trail along this 3 mile stretch is pitted and rutted and not easy to run on. I twisted my knee here also going over a stile.
North Stoke.
After Stoke you go through some woods, the shade was nice. You then meet the bouncing bridge. Last year I ran across to find when I got half way it started to move. At the time I thought my legs had gone to jelly. You know when you are coming up to Amberly as you see a very old stone bridge as you come along the path. Caution is needed here as there is no pavement on the bridge.
Once across the road we rejoined the river for a few minutes before heading out on to South Downs Way. It was getting particularly hot now so getting up onto the higher ground and some wind was a welcome relief. After a mile or so I saw the race leader James Donald hurtling down the hill. I was keeping an eye out for Luke, I soon saw him in third place. We high fived as we passed. Getting to the switch back point at Kithurst Hill I saw my friend Darren Chillcott coming back up looking good. He was having a good race. I had started to feel a little tired now. But I decided to carry on. I had got here in 2.15.
Luke looking relaxed on 3rd place.
Coming down the hills I could feel it in my quads. One of the things that I did not  do at the turn around point was check my water. I had been drinking a lot. But when I got to a mile outsideAmberly I ran out of water. I started to struggle here, running out of water on a hot day running amarathon is not much fun. I started to walk. I had it in my mind once I got to Amberly to see if I could find a tap. But this soon slipped my mind. Once across the bridge and on the other side of the river I found a bottle of water which I grabbed and poured in to my bladder. It made little difference. The next aid station was around 2 miles away. The race from 2 weeks ago had caught up with me and I was feeling pretty tired.When I came out of the woods near North Stoke Jon Lavis was taking photos of the runners. I felt like stopping and asking for a lift. Luckily a bit further on a couple of other runners stopped and asked if I was ok. One of them gave me some water. I was really grateful for this. Donna my partner text me to see how I was doing. I was not far from The Black Rabbit. I rang her and said I was struggling and did not think I could go on. She just said 'get to the next aid station, get some water and get your arse moving!' I have told Donna to be like this if I ever phone up during a race looking for sympathy!Getting to the Black Rabbit I refilled with water and walked out. For the rest of the race I employed a run walk strategy. I tried not to walk too much. My quads were heavy and walking fast was hard. Once past Arundel I ran out of water at mile 23. I text Luke to let him know I was going to be a while. It took me nearly an hour to cover the next 4 miles. In between there was a lighter moment. When I got to 25 miles I had thoroughly had enough, I stopped and said to myself out loud " Shawn you're f**king crazy, I looked to the side of the river bank to see a couple looking at me, probably thinking the same! I carried on laughing to myself.  My mouth felt like cotton wool. I was glad to come out of the woods into the carpark. Jay and Luke were running out to check where I was as I had been too long. Jay had a bottle of water that was much needed. I was grateful for this kind gesture. Luke had finished in 3rd place. I ran across the finish line. My slowest ever trail marathon. I was not bothered however. Today had been solely a personal challenge for me. I wanted to see what I could do so soon after a big race. But also get time on tired legs and push myself in readiness for my next a race.After a shower and some breakfast I felt pretty good. As always a big thanks to the guys of Sussex Trail events and all the volunteers for a great race.
Picture Courtsey Jon Lavis
The End.

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