Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Marathon 150, A Long Way to Go

On Sunday I completed marathon number 150 .  It was actually a 32 mile ultra on trail rather than road and there were spectacular views which helped one forget about the climbs!

The beauty of this event was that it was only 22 miles from home with no motorway hold-ups to contend with.  Pure bliss.  Race HQ was based in the village school in the pleasant village of Muddles Green.

As I parked in the field opposite the school I saw Jimi and Sam from the 'Rebel Runners' together with Glen and Kay.  Sam was a little worse for wear as he'd done a nighttime marathon with little sleep between finishing and heading over to this one. He paid for it pretty soon!  There were a few more familiar faces there at the start and in the photos below you can see Bryan on the right of the photo (Louise is just peeping out from behind my right cheek!) and Glen on the left.  

I wore my 100 marathon vest and new cap because I thought I'd probably come last and people might think I'd just had a bad day at the office rather than me being very slow!

The route description was very detailed

There were 2 distances to choose from: half marathon or ultra distance.  We ultra runners were first to set off at 8am.  The route followed part of the Vanguard Way and Weald Way.  There was a real mixture of terrain, from running through villages to scrambling through narrow footpaths with shoulder-high nettles either side so I'll just let the photos give a feel for it:

We ran a few hundred metres along the lane before heading across the first of many fields

Bryan and Louise running through Oil-Seed Rape

Heading along someones drive which formed part of a public footpath.  There was a cheering squad of children with their mum (you can just see them on the left).

I was fascinated by this plaque and so looked it up and found that it was available as a Home Defence emergency landing ground for the RAF in World War One between 1916 and 1917.  This link shows a view of the land as it is now but with a marker of the site.

Although that path looks nice and grassy it was rutted and hummocky with plenty of trip potential!

Yep, we had to squeeze through there

We had to go down these steep steps (and you know how much I hate going down steps!) to cross over a railway line and then climb up equally steep steps on the other side

We passed what looked like part of an old stable complex with an interesting bell tower.

It was part of the Buxted Park Hotel complex.  There was an interesting church, St. Margarets, next door.  Sadly, my photo was blurry but you can see some images here.  I looked it up and was fascinated to learn it has an interesting history.  I took this snippet from their website and I think it might be worth a visit next time Mike and I are in the area:

The churchyard has a number of key features: 
  • The large yew tree to the east of the church is over 2,000 years old.  Behind the church entrance door is a certificate that attests to this fact. The yew tree is also featured on the website www.ancient-yew.org . Hundreds of cuttings were taken from this tree, blessed by Bishop Eric and distributed to churches across the country to celebrate the millennium.
  • There are four Commonwealth war graves in the churchyard.
  • On the eastern wall of the churchyard is the grave of Christopher Wordsworth, Rector of St. Margaret's from 1820 to 1846. He subsequently became Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University.  He was the youngest brother of the poet William Wordsworth.
  • Also in the churchyard is the grave of the author Winston Graham who lived in Buxted until his death in 2003. He wrote over 40 novels, including the famous Poldark series.

I saw lots of interesting gates and gateposts throughout so there are a few more photos to come.  I loved these 2 eagles as we left the Buxted complex: 

That's Saskia (red hair) running her first ultra marathon with Debbie in front

As we neared Ashdown Forest we passed these wrought iron gates with Piglets on them.  How appropriate as we entered Winnie the Pooh country!

Strawberries growing on a raised pole system

Although there were A5 size printed booklets of the route or a downloadable GPX file, the Race Director had also been out and marked the whole ultra route with arrows/tape or chalk marks on the road.  Apparently one year some tape had been removed and people got lost so this time He put notices up explaining that the tape/arrows were for the safety of us runners.

We passed several small vineyards

Heading into Ashdown Forest

A mixture of Gorse and Bracken

Heading up towards 'Camp Hill Clump' and some fabulous views (although it was a bit hazy in the distance)

The rutted tracks were tricksy

See that sandy-coloured track up the hill towards the clump of trees in the distance?  Yep, we were heading up there!

I had a nice chat with some horse riders on this section but my photo of them was all blurry.

This rutted section was even harder to navigate!

As I scrambled down this section I looked ahead and realised that we'd be going up to the top of the hill straight ahead in the distance - deep joy!

At some stage in the proceedings I overtook Debbie and Saskia and then in turn was overtaken by Louise and Bryan which was a surprise as I thought they were ahead of me already.  I have no idea at what stage this next photo was taken by Debbie so I'll just stick in here:

Ooh lovely, a flat bit!  That's Louise and Bryan storming ahead.

I loved the look of this pretty church in the village of High Hurstwood on the South East border of Ashdown Forest.  It is Holy Trinity Church and was designed by an unknown architect in 1870-72, paid for by Lady Catherine VenerablesVernon-Harcourt (a local resident), with the addition of a half-timbered tower in 1903.

Another nice gate, rather like stems of grass

Magnificent owls

On the home straight, heading for the finish (well, just a few miles away)

I crossed the finish line in 7:42:30 so well within the time limit (hoorah) and probably could have taken another 15 minutes or more off if I hadn't taken photos (but then it wouldn't have been as much fun!).  I later learnt that several people had been pulled off the course as they would have been too far the cut-off which is always tough.

Leaving marathon 149.........

........having completed marathon 150!

Another medal for the collection

Another lovely handmade mug

Now we have a pair we can each have one and we tried them out with our morning coffee

But that wasn't the end of it.  I got a special plaque for being the first FV60 (Female Veteran 60+ age group).

Plus I got this lovely Montane running belt and soft flask.  What a lovely surprise!

This was my last marathon as a 60 year old which means that at the Kent 50, in a couple of weeks, I will be "in my 60s" (gulp!!!).  Never mind, next will be number 151 which is  a very pleasing palindrome.

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