Monday 11 July 2011

South Downs Way Race - July 2011

This weekend, I ran the South Downs Way race - what a fantastic day! I originally grew up in Portsmouth, and often here hear tales of the fantastic scenery of the South Downs Way from my Dad who runs the sections close to his home. The South Downs Way is (I believe) the longest National Trust trail in the country, and stretches for about 103 miles from Eastbourne on the South Coast, heading inland to Winchester. The race, organised by Jen Jackson, had it's inaugural outing last year, and when I heard that this year's race was just around the corner I signed up!

It's only been 3 months since my last big run, but I felt that I had been back on form recently so I figured I would go for it. The beauty of this race as well is that it is about as well sign-posted as any trail there is, so the chances of getting lost along the way were reduced! My only real plan for this race was that I wanted to beat 24 hours. I came up with a "perfect race" scenario, looking at 10 mins/mile for the first third of the race, 11 mins/mile for the second third, and 12 mins/mile for the final third, with 15 minutes at each checkpoint to get me in at 4:30am the following day. The big unknown here was how the hills would affect me - I knew it was hilly, but had no frame of reference for how hilly. I also wasn't sure how self-sufficient the race was so I picked up a front pack to store some extra food. Plus this has the added benefit of making it easy to get to equipment without having to take the bag off. As it happens, the race was really well catered for, with outstanding food choices available at each of the 7 checkpoints along the way. I ended up carrying way too much stuff, but at least I know for next time! I also finally decided on a pair of trail shoes, picking up a pair of Salomon Speedcross 2 shoes, after umming and awing between these and the Inov8 Roclite 285s.