Running 13 The Hard Way

1 09 2016


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


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!


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.

worthing beat the tide

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

Fortunately we did beat the tide!

me and helen.jpeg

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 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 14:48:20

Finishing never felt such a relief !

Three Forts Challenge

Cissbury Ring

Chanctonbury Ring

Devil’s Dyke


Rottingdean to Woodingdean via Castle Hill

6 09 2015

rottingdean10kWith a week to go before the Firle half marathon, an all off-road run on the Downs, I picked a route heading North from Rottingdean towards the South Downs Way. Rottingdean is on the route of the 27 bus which also happens to run past the end of my road. So £2.40 later I got off the bus and started the run at the beginning of The Twittern – a narrow path that quickly leads onto unmade tracks: Whiteway Lane then Westmeston Avenue. Turn right onto Blazehill Road for a short section and then it’s all paths and bridleways from there on.  I’d already studied the map  and had a rough idea to meet the South Downs Way and from there make my way round Newmarket Hill, onto Castle Hill and then finish at Woodingdean.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most enjoyable runs I’ve ever done in Brighton. The scenery is breathtaking and straight out of an Eric Ravilious water colour, like this one called Chalk paths.

Just after Castle Hill is a TV transmitter and from there you can look across the whole of Brighton. The Isle of Wight was clearly visible. The light was fading by the time I’d reached Woodingdean so I headed back into Brighton down Bear Road. Next time I’ll start earlier and see if I can make it a circular run by continuing onto Ovingdean and along the cliff top to Rottingdean. 27 bus back home. Perfect.

Up on the Downs

25 03 2010

Click to open in Mapmyrun

Enjoyed a chat  and change of scenery this morning, running up towards Devil’s   Dyke at 6am with a friend, Lance,  who’s training for the London marathon.   Lance got me into running a couple of years ago by suggesting Parkrun and it’s probably that recommendation that’s led to my training for the Brighton marathon. Lance – it’s your fault!

This Sunday is the last big run before I start to ‘taper off’ on the training. Hoping to do 22 miles.  The idea is then to ease back on training over the last 3 weeks, so that I have fully recovered for the big day. I certainly want to feel more energetic than I do now. The Easter holidays are just a few days away and I can’t wait to have a lie-in!

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