Saturday, August 15, 2015

Marathon 51 of 60

The Battle of Britain Challenge, 12th August

This was another of Traviss and Rachel's fab events, this time to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain which was fought over the skies around Dover. Many of those brave young men lost their lives so that we could have the freedom we experience nowadays. We will never forget their sacrifice and this was a 'must do' event as far as I was concerned.

I left home at silly o'clock in torrential rain but made good time and when I reached the outskirts of Dover it was just cloudy with a bit of drizzle. Mike told me later that the rain had been heavy all day at home so we were lucky to have missed it.

The event was held at Samphire Hoe, just outside Dover, which I wrote about earlier this year when I did the Wonderland Caucus Race. It was an appropriate setting as the Battle of Britain memorial is not far away, at Capel-le-Ferne and when I'd parked up I took a few moments just to look around and think what it must have been like during the battle. I'm sure that I couldn't really imagine the horror of it though.

Last time I was here my camera died but now it's been replaced I was able to take a few more shots before the start with the rest taken on the last lap. I'll let the photos do most of the talking:

Runners starting to gather around the Visitor Centre which is near to the start. I love the fold of the cliffs and the brightness of the chalk even on a dull day.

View back to the car park. 

Looking towards Dover

Traviss - Race Director and ultra-running legend (and jolly nice chap too!)
Some of the wonderful support crew. In the foreground is Janet sporting her special tee shirt - isn't that fab. She and Greg are getting married early next year and there's even a marathon to celebrate (yes, of course I'm doing it!). 

On her far left you can just see Dee peeping out. She very kindly took some lovely photos of everyone. In the background is Jackie, maker of yummy fudge, who looked gorgeous in her wartime outfit (see below).

Celebration time always means cakes made by the very talented Heather. On the left is a beautiful rendering of the white cliffs complete with planes overhead which was to celebrate Hazel's 100th marathon meaning she is now part of that elite club of runners (that's her special medal in front of the cake). 

Then there were 2 other special cakes for 2 special people, Carolyn and Traviss, who shared the same birthday that day, albeit a few years apart. The hamburger and fries, made by Heather, is for Traviss (isn't it amazing!) and the one in front was for Carolyn, made by her beautiful daughter Katy, complete with Scottish flag and Bonnie the dog. I've never actually tasted any of Heather's cakes as they've always gone by the time I finish!

Just before the start Traviss always stands on something, this time it was a table, and gives a speech (ably assisted by the lovely Rachel) including details about the course and any special announcements such as Hazel's 100th. He then made a moving speech about those who lost their lives in the Battle of Britain and we all sang the National Anthem and gave a 1 minute round of applause for the brave pilots.

Then it was announced that it was his birthday and Mel popped out to say it was Carolyn's too so she was summoned to the front.

We sang Happy birthday to them both and then it was time to do a bit of running.

I hadn't got a plan and was just going to run and enjoy it in however long it took, which as anyone who's read my blog knows can be anything between 4:42 and 6:15 based on the times I've produced this year so far! I thought 6 hours sounded about right and so it was that I found myself running along happily with Carolyn right from the start. 

Thanks to Maryanne Aitken for the photo
Now what I haven't mentioned so far is that Carolyn had done 2 marathons at the weekend and tough ones at that but she looked remarkably fresh to me and ran really well. We caught up with eachother's news and then chatted about anything and everything which really helped pass the miles.

In the photo below we are running alongside the railway line and behind us you can see the tunnel you have to drive through. It can be difficult to get a phone signal once you come through so I'd taken the precaution of phoning Mike to let him know I'd arrived safely whilst I waited at the other end.

Thank you to either Maryanne or Dee for this photo (I've lost track of who took what now, sorry!)

The first part is on tarmac and trail then you go down an incline (ie a HILL), the bottom of which you can see in the photo below, and onto the seawall. The word "seawall" sounds lovely doesn't it, conjuring up visions of azure sea for miles. Well it was OK on the first bit but then you turn a corner and the wind was so strong that it felt as if we weren't moving forwards! It also felt as if it was giving our bare legs derma-abrasion as the grit really stung.

I can't remember why I took this photo of the bottom ot THAT incline. It's one of those hills that's OK if you just have to run up it once or twice but as we were running loops we had to run up the blimming thing 7 times for the marathon, or even more for those doing an ultra, by which time it feels like a mountain and you end up walking up it. There's a 100 mile utra marathon being held here later this year and I expect that hill will sap everyone's strength - especially since it's 27 laps!

Is that Foxy Davy? 

The second part of the concrete stretch taken on our last lap, hence not many people about

Hang on a minute, she's getting a bit too far ahead……. (that might have been because I was looking at the Limonium (aka sea-lavender although it isn't related to lavender at all) growing inbetween the concrete of the seawall)…..

I had to sprint to catch her up!

Then you turn a corner out of the wind (hoorah) and head towards the turnaround point.

Thanks again to Maryanne for this photo. She had come to support and brought her gorgeous dog with her so she took a walk along the route with Dee.

I was struck by the colours along the edge and the shapes of the rocks - seen through the eyes of a knitter they suggested Fair Isle patterns to me.

The turnaround point. I was fascinated by that cave you can see on the left.
The next few photos were taken on the last lap so there aren't many runners still out there but they give a feel for the rest of the route.

That's Gary up ahead trying to walk extra fast so we couldn't catch up with him!

What looks like a fresh fall of limestone from the cliffs onto the beach.
So that's most of the route covered. After each loop we took a short break for a chat and to nibble  crisps/chocolate/sweeties. These events are so sociable and everyone's very friendly. You can easily find yourself chatting to someone who's done hundreds of marathons/ultras but they don't have any airs and graces and everyone's very supportive.

Carolyn said I should go ahead if I wanted a decent time but I really wasn't bothered. It was lovely to just run gently and chat and I felt honoured to share Carolyn's birthday with her. We certainly covered a wide range of topics and there was plenty of laughter. All I can say is that whatever was spoken at Samphire Hoe, stays there!

On our last lap we seemed to speed up - how does that work then 'cos I often do that?

Going down the incline to the finish there was a small Adder sidewinding across the path and ordinarily I'd have stopped to take his photo but I wanted to cross the line and ring the bell together so I didn't stop. We finished in 6:02:07 so an excellent result for Carolyn who was running on tired legs. Of course I had to dash back up the hill to try and spot the adder but he'd disappeared.

Dee very kindly took these photos of our celebration:

Methinks Traviss might have got in on the act!

What a brilliant medal. The ribbon has the famous quote from Winston Churchill  "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". Indeed. We will never forget.
Afterwards Philip (who ran his first marathon last year and already has many more under his belt) very kindly gave me a can of cold Irn Bru which I haven't had for years. Unfortunately I was too proud to admit that I couldn't open the can (my arthritic fingers struggle with ring pulls) and ended up snapping off the ring. Many thanks to Philip who came to my rescue and managed to open it with a bit of poking with a corkscrew.

My journey home was uneventful and we celebrated with a bottle of something sparkling. I can hardly believe that I've run 51 marathons; but I have. It's amazing what you can do if you put your mind to it.

Now I've got a couple of weeks until my next one which is my second Cakeathon but this time the medal's pink - it just had to be done didn't it?!


Old Runningfox. said...

Smashing report Susie, well illustrated and a unique medal as a permanent memento. Don't know how you manage to look so fresh after 26 miles. Great stuff....

Old Runningfox. said...

Smashing report Susie, well illustrated and a unique medal for a permanent memento. Don't know how you manage to look so fresh after 26 miles. Great stuff, well done....

Susie Hewer said...

Thanks Mr Fox :-)

Sarah said...

Well done- those medals are amazing- I had a feel of one at parkrun this morning as some of my running club had also ran this, all said how tough it was in the wind. I want to try another of Travis' marathons one day :-)

Jackie Hearn said...

Lovely write up Susie, it nice to know what happens away from the aid station xxx see you at cakeathon xxx

Susie Hewer said...

Thanks Sarah. You really must come along to one of Traviss's events as they are excellent and so well organised. Very inclusive too for all levels of runner.

Susie Hewer said...

Thanks Jackie and well done on going sub 4:30 - that's beyond my wildest dreams! xxx