South Downs Way 50

This was my first 50-mile event, and with a busy run-up I wasn’t confident of a good time. I had half an eye on 10 hours, with 12 hours as my real goal. After a fastish uphill start, I settled in to a comfortable pace along the ridge, taking things aid station by aid station. Struggling on the hills turned in to just struggling once I passed 30 miles. I finally made it in to Eastbourne as night (and the rain) started to fall, completing my lap of the track in a shade over 11 hours, pretty chuffed. An incredibly scenic route, chirpy marshals, happy competitors and excellent organization made for an outstanding day.


Completing my 4th ultra, I realised a few things, life and running lessons:

 1. For me, an ultra isn’t a race. My fell running competitive streak is still inside me somewhere, and it emerged in force during the first half of the race. I need to stifle it in ultras, at least until I’m fit enough to give it free rein.

 2. It’s not all about weight. I was overtaken towards the end by a couple of guys carrying quite a bit more weight than me. This will no longer be an excuse for coming in at the back.

 3. Running hurts. For long stretches in the second half, I found myself walking when it didn’t hurt to run. I need to work on my mental toughness and motivation and push myself more.

 4. Poles could be useful. It may be because I’m just back from a couple of weeks of Nordic skiing, but I really found myself missing my poles on the steeper hills.

 5. I carry far too much food. I haven’t yet done a race where I’d eaten all my food by the finish. I had a ridiculous amount left at the end of SDW; I’m not sure why. I could be getting better at using fat, or it may be because of the impressive array on offer at the aid stations. Aside from the few times I’ve started bonking, I only need enough in me to stop the feeling of empty-stomachness.

 6. Dislocation of expectation still sucks. It’s astonishing how devastating it can be when you get to an aid station having wanted a coke for the last 11 miles, only to discover the faster runners have drunk the last bottle. (check the gif!)

 7. People are awesome. Every race I do, I meet more amazing people. Every one has a different story but, to a person, they are friendly, supportive, and despite having only just met you, they have your back if you need them.


(Pictures by Centurion)


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