Running 13 The Hard Way

1 09 2016

LsFmtz

When a friend asked if if I was up for doing a half marathon on the South Downs at the end of August, I instantly agreed, quickly registered and then forgot all about it. Running on the South Downs, for me, is pure pleasure so it didn’t take much persuading. What I had failed to notice was that I would still be on holiday in Cornwall the day before, leaving me almost no chance of getting to the 9am start in Clayton, West Sussex.

A silly idea entered my head. We were booked onto the overnight Megabus from Penzance to London , arriving Victoria Coach station at 7.30am. If I could get a train before 8am, I might just make the start.

The coach arrived to pick us up half an hour late and by the time we reached Plymouth, the driver apologised to us with “we’re running an hour late”. I was on the verge of messaging my friend to say I wouldn’t make it but deep down I was hoping that maybe the coach could make up time. Miraculously, as the Sun was rising over London and to applause from the passengers, the driver announced that he had managed to pick up time. We’d be arriving just 17 minutes late! He even apologised but added, “I’ve done my best”! Brilliant.

I can’t say it was the best warm up I’ve ever done but I managed to get to the start , 25 minutes late and start the run. This is where the name of the run starts to have meaning.

The first kilometre starts from Underhill Lane and is a steep ascent to the South Downs Way climbing about 140m. From there it is a beautiful run along the SDW, past Ditchling Beacon and on to Housedean Farm at the halfway point. Coming back is gruelling with the less steep but longer climb back onto high ground. I ran with my friend Paul and both of us found it a struggle in places, especially in the heat but the pain was more than compensated for by fantastic views to the North and some excellent half way sugary nibbles, including Jaffa cakes, water melon and cupfulls of coke.

 

Some great photos of the event can be seen here.

As a running experience I can’t ask for a better location. The organisation and friendly atmosphere made it really fun – I’d do it again next year but I hear there’s talk of 30 the Hard way! Maybe.

13 The Hard Way was organised by Sussex Trail Events

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St. Michael’s Way, Cornwall.

30 08 2016

One of the many walks we do in Cornwall is a short and very pretty coastal path from Carbis Bay to Lelant. When the tide is low, you can walk back on the huge expanse of sand at Porth Kidney. This year was memorable for watching Gannets diving into the sea in huge numbers.

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Looking across PorthKidney beach to Carbis Bay and St Ives.

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Looking down over Porth Kidney near Lelant. Godrevy Lighthouse in the distance.

It feels such a familiar area that I rarely look at a map but after one such walk, I noticed a QR code on a footpath sign. I pointed my mobile at it which then linked to  http://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/  It listed 3 walks, one of which I hadn’t tried before with some interesting info about the area, including a reference to St. Michael’s Way. This is a 12 mile, coast to coast pilgrim path that is believed to have been used by pilgrims travelling from Ireland on their way to the Cathedral of St James in Santiago de Compostela, North West Spain.

Well I’d been looking for a challenging and scenic run but this was right our doorstep! I travelled to Penzance and along to St Michael’s Mount where the trail begins. The path splits at the start and rejoins, then  follows a single path to Lelant. I have to say it was such a fabulous run. In terms of a challenge it is more than your average half marathon and I think all but the most hardy fell runner will need to walk at some point but I was able to run most of it and take in the views. I would strongly advise taking an OS map because the route’s scallop symbol isn’t always visible and you’re left guessing the route – as I did on occasion. There was a comic moment when, having passed a couple of walkers, I passed them again a few miles later, going in the same direction. They had got lost and taken a more direct route but it didn’t take long to pass them for the 3rd time! One of the high points on the route, literally, is the Knill Monument. You get a superb view of St. Ives, Carbis Bay, Hayle and Godrevy Lighthouse to the North, with equally great views to the South coast.

I didn’t take many photos as I wanted to enjoy the run rather than keep starting and stopping but I allowed myself a breather after an hour or so. Here’s St Michael’s Mount in the distance. It’s possible to tale an alternative route from Marazion so next year it would be fun to try an out-and-back run – almost a full marathon at 25 miles.

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Penrose parkrun

29 08 2016

In August, I usually miss a couple of parkruns when we head off to Cornwall on holiday. Travelling down to St. Ives on Saturday doesn’t help but with few parkruns in Cornwall, I just accept, reluctantly, to have a parkrun holiday.

This year, instead of driving down, we decided to save a bit of money on car hire by getting the overnight Megabus from London to Penzance. I travelled down Thursday night. As well as getting to Cornwall for a tenner, it meant I could get to Penrose parkrun on Saturday. Euphoria! It all seemed straight forward until the public transport options from Carbis Bay to Helston meant I’d have to leave about 6am just to cover a 9 mile distance using a combination of running, bus and train. Fortunately, the friends we were staying with offered me a lift if coffee could be guaranteed. A fair offer I thought!

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Sleeping swans at Helston

We arrived at Helston and first saw a lake with cafe attached. Excellent. I jumped out and did a warm up lap past some sleeping swans and then crossed the road to the car park near the start of the run. Penrose parkrun has been temporarily re-routed until Easter 2017 to allow the National Trust car park at Penrose Hill to be enlarged so I was half expected a less interesting route. Far from it. The run is reasonably flat from start to finish and it takes you out through some lovely woodland, alongside The Loe – the largest freshwater lake in Cornwall – and up to Penrose House. You then retrace your steps back to the start.

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Hands up if you’re a tourist!   (Photo: Penrose parkrun on Facebook)

A special mention to the volunteers who coped brilliantly with the numbers swelled by holiday makers – myself included. We were all made to feel very welcome so thanks to everyone who helped on the day, including a group from Nottingham!

Penrose parkrun





20th July was a good day out

11 08 2016

Decided to celebrate my birthday with a long walk on the South Downs near Rottingdean. The day before was the hottest day of the year so Helen and I  were up early to beat the heat but it rapidly turned into the windiest day. We walked for about 6 miles and the farmland and meadows were full of swirling colour brought on by strong gusts. Click on the image below to get a feel for it!

meadowflowers

Meadows full of wild flowers

 

Later the same day I took part in an event I’d heard of years ago but always forgot about until it was too late. Beat the Tide is a 10k run along the foreshore at Worthing. Fantastic fun. Great to see so many familiar faces from Hove park parkrun doing this event.

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Setting off at Beat the Tide from near Worthing pier. Photo Jon Lavis

Fortunately we did beat the tide!

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Celebrating with Helen and friends

 

 





Three Forts Challenge – 1st May 2016

9 05 2016

Most of my training for this year’s Brighton marathon was off-road, up on the South Downs. It’s my favourite place to run now – far more relaxing than the roads and it has really helped my endurance. After the marathon, hoping to make the most of my training, I entered the The Three Forts Challenge, also known as  The Tough One. It’s a 27 mile route on the South Downs, starting in Worthing. It takes in the ancient hill forts of Cissbury Ring, Chanctonbury Ring and Devil’s Dyke. 3450 ft of climbing and nearly 6 hours to complete. What was I thinking of?!

Tough it certainly is but to take your mind off the aches and pains, the route is set in stunning countryside and brilliantly marshalled by some wonderful volunteers.

 

3Forts Challenge May 2016 by SussexSportPhotography.com 15:22:09

‘Running’ up the final slope to Cissbury Ring with Paul.

 

I ran the whole distance with my friend Paul who I’ve been running with for years now – we started running 5km parkruns at Hove park, 7 years ago and now look at us!

Coming up to the finish after nearly 6 hours felt like a real achievement and it has really changed my focus on what I’ll enter this year. The Moyleman in Lewes and Beachy Head marathon are definitely on my list of things to do and I’ll certainly be back for The Tough One next year.

3Forts Challenge May 2016 by SussexSportPhotography.com 14:48:20

Finishing never felt such a relief !

Three Forts Challenge

Cissbury Ring

Chanctonbury Ring

Devil’s Dyke

 





Under 4% part 1

8 05 2016

As experiments go, this could run for some time! A while ago, I tried out some low alcohol beers that were around 0.5% but none really grabbed me as an alternative to real ale and certainly not something I’d choose in place of my favourite local ale, Harveys Sussex Best Bitter, which happens to be 4.0%. If the beer tastes good then I don’t really care what the ABV is and so finding the best beer under 4.0% sounds like a fun experiment.

Here are the first 4 I’ve tried. I won’t try to rank them as they were all very different types and flavours but I enjoyed them all.

Under4s

  1. Hepworth: Sussex Ale. (3.5% ABV, 500ml)  Horsham, West Sussex.
    The only beer to be gluten free and suitable for Vegans.
  2. Brewdog: Dead Pony Club (3.8% ABV, 330ml) Balmacassie Industrial Estate, Ellon, Aberdeenshire.
    This has an amazingly strong citrus aroma (grapefruit) and really refreshing in summer.
  3. Firebird: Two Horses (3.8% ABV, 330ml) Rudgwick, West Sussex.
  4. Harveys: Blue Label (3.6% ABV, 500ml)
    Much like Harveys Sussex Best bitter – will definitely try this again.
    The only bottle in this group that can be returned to be washed and refilled. (Why can’t more do this?)For a great blog on ale and running read https://thealerunner.com/




Get Into Running #2

1 02 2016

I’ve just completed the poster for the 2nd evening of running talks, organised by myself, Paul Zara, Kevin Betts and Nick Rivett. Same format, same great Exeter Street Hall  and another great mix of speakers coming to share their running experiences. Fancy coming?

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There are some truly inspirational stories out there about why people get into running. In our 2nd evening of talks to be held at Exeter Street Hall on Friday 12th Feb, we have a mixed bag of running treats!

The evening is an informal event with some wonderful examples of why running has had a positive impact of the lives of so many people.

Come and join us – doors open at 6.30pm for a prompt 7pm start. We aim to finish around 8.30pm or soon after. There is a licenced bar and entry is free.

Our guest speakers include:
Caroline Wood, Joan Lennon and Carol Killick – all active runners who have represented Great Britain recently.
John Jaap will be giving a report on the first parkrun at Bevendean Down.
Tess Agnew is a fitness blogger from Brighton and she is also Sussex Ambassador for This Girl Can. Enthusiasm guaranteed! You can follow her blog here http://www.thefitbits.com/
Brendan Spellman was once homeless in Brighton. Running and friends helped to turn his life around. He now works for Emmaus in Brighton

Look forward to seeing some of you on Friday 12th Feb!
Pete Golton

 








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