Hills Hills Hills
I signed up for Beachy Head Marathon as I don’t tend to run many hills unless they’re in races and I wanted to make sure I was prepared for the mountains that await me for the Nepal Inaugural Marathon in November. What better way to prep than one of the most challenging marathons in the UK.
In the build up to the race I stopped using the elevator at work (which lasted 2 weeks before the habit was lost) and I added hills into my training including Primrose Hill & Swains Lane in my new running routes. I also joined the gym recently so have done a few spin & zumba classes.
I went down to Eastbourne on Friday, left luggage at the hotel & went to register & collect my race number. It was a lovely friendly atmosphere and I met a guy who was about to run marathon number 94 at the age of 76! What an inspiration! The registration was by the start line so it was good to know where I had to go the next morning….it also meant you got to see that first hill just past the start line!
My hotel was a bit of a treat as I was at The Grand so it was the life of luxury for me in Eastbourne. After registering I headed back to the hotel to see the room & then I went to relax in the pool, Jacuzzi & steam room- lush!
Then went out for a couple of pre-race shandys & filled up nicely at a cute local Italian restaurant.
After that it was back to the hotel for an early night. A practically perfect pre-race day.
On the morning of race day I felt pretty nervous. The most nervous I’ve felt pre-marathon for a while. I barely ate anything as I felt a bit ill- I had a few spoonfuls of porridge and a bite of toast & that was all I could manage. My last big race was Race to the Stones and as that took a while to recover from (more mentally than physically) I think that added to the nerves. On the way to the race they soon faded and I was in usual pre-race mode to get the bag in & use the toilet before heading to the start line & tried to avoid eye contact with the hill just past the start line.
3…2…1…In to the Mist
& we were off. Up that hill…I ran to it & then walked up, there was no point attempting to run up that hill when there was a whole marathon of hills ahead of us.
We gained elevation fast & there was a nice view back over Eastbourne but the weather turned a bit & we had what another runner described as “sparkles of rain” which I thought was the perfect way to describe it as it wasn’t really proper rain. We soon found ourselves feeling soggy in mist. I had to laugh as I ran along as everyone had said “Go enjoy the views” & there was nothing to see. Although it was very halloween-esque.
The mist lasted for quite a while but as soon as it started to lift it made such a difference to be able to see around us & see some of the views that we had worked so hard to see. After a big climb up some stairs we climbed over a wall & were greeted with a beautiful view.
We were at the coast line for a beautiful run along the coast ….with just the seven sisters between us & the finish line.
I spoke to a few runners along the route & I’d opted for no music for this run (I always listen to music when training). I met a woman who was on marathon number 82 and was looking forward to hitting 100. She has another marathon this weekend too. It’s great meeting so many interesting people at these races. There were quite a few people running in ‘100 marathon club’ shirts…maybe I’ll get there one day!
On the route I saw another runner being sick so I stopped to give her some SOS hydration salts that I keep in my pack. I told her to take them when she could mix them with some water & then I ran on & told the people at the next water stop just incase she was in trouble. I found out later that we follow each other on Twitter (it turned out to be the lovely @simrobbo) and she sent me a message to say thank you as without my help she wouldn’t have finished the race. It was so nice to hear how much my small gesture had helped-I was proper chuffed to know how much it helped her out. Small acts of kindness really do go a long way….& I really recommend SOS hydrate- I’ve given it out to a few people at runs (as well as using it myself) & its amazing stuff (I’m not an ambassador for them- I just love the product).
Despite the hills I still felt fairly good towards the end. The finish snuck up as I didn’t know how close I was to it & then there were more people cheering & marshals warning us to take care on the steep down hill to reach the finish line. It was a great feeling getting across that finish line. My legs were a bit achy but I felt great.
After the marathon I had a lovely pub lunch at The Pilot Inn right near the start/finish and then headed back to the hotel for an essential steam room & jacuzzi before heading back to London. Being able to use the hotel facilities post race was perfect. Only problem now is that I want that after every marathon!
To sum up:
I really enjoyed this marathon. It’s tough but I loved it. I was so worried about it beforehand I was actually expecting it to be tougher. The hills were tough but I walked up them & ran down (which everyone else was doing too). Some were pretty steep to climb and it can be difficult running down hills too. A couple of the down hills were rocky & rough trails so had to really focus on the ground (& my watering eyes were not helping at that point so it took a lot of concentration). The winner of the race finished in an incredible time of 2.50! i don’t know how that’s humanly possible with those hills (that time is admirable enough on a flat marathon).
The organisation of this race is brilliant. Everything felt easy & unstressful with no big queues for anything: toilets, registration (although I’m glad we did this the day before), well stocked check points that I enjoyed many jaffa cakes & orange squash. There were sausage rolls but as a veggie I know not to expect to be catered for-I’ll take my own next time (am totally ok with this). My only small note would be that at times it felt like we were a long way from a marshall/help if we needed it. I’ve done trail marathons & ultras & many of them make runners carry a phone number of the race organiser incase you need it in an emergency which I think would be a good idea here, or have more marshals between check points. When I saw the runner being ill it was quite a way before I got to the next check point to tell someone so it’s lucky it wasn’t anything serious. Despite that, the Marathon has been there for a long time and the organisers & volunteers do a superb job.
Also, I’d like to give a big shout out to the awesome race photographers Sussex Sport Photography who take the best race photos & at a great price! (unlike so many than charge a fortune for them). Here are some of my favourites (that aren’t in the blog already):
It’s a great route. Once the mist cleared it was beautiful. I would definitely do this marathon again. A great challenge, a lovely atmosphere and lovely scenery that you have to work to see.
I’m not usually a fan of hills but if you fancy setting yourself a good challenge get yourself to Eastbourne for a friendly, fun & scenic marathon – 1 of the most challenging in the UK. I’ll be back for sure although perhaps not next year as it’s clashes with another race I have my eye on.
After conquering those hills I feel as ready as I can be for Nepal. I think the spinning & running hills in training has definitely helped so I will keep that up till I go to Nepal. There is even more of a climb in Nepal but now I don’t find it quite as intimidating after finishing Beachy Head.
I have set up a fundraising page to raise some funds for Community Action Nepal who are helping rebuild as Nepal is still recovering from the earthquakes in 2015. Every little helps so please donate here:
Text ‘JMNM88 £5’ or your chosen amount to 70070
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Thanks so much for reading x