I took a train down to Petersfield on Friday evening. I was staying in a small B&B there with Naomi, the Fetchie whose idea it was to do a double marathon to celebrate her upcoming birthday. She promised us champagne, so how could we refuse?
In the morning, Allan (another lovely Fetchie) gave us a lift to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, just a few miles along the A3, which was to be the finish of the South Downs Way Marathon. From there we took a coach up to the start. There were loads more Fetchies there, along with several other runners I knew from the 100 Club and elsewhere, so it was all very social. The marathon had two start times – 9am for the slowbos like me, 10am for the speed demons. It was a pretty trail course along the South Downs Way: hilly, some tough terrain but mostly along nice tracks and also through some pleasantly shady woods. I enjoyed seeing the faster runners overtake later in the race, including Adam (Fetchie and world record holder for the 'ten in ten', who eventually finished 11th out of the nearly 500 runners taking part). At one of the checkpoints I was cheered (by name) by a load of people I didn’t recognise – it turned out they were from Animal Aid (the charity I raised £15 000 for earlier this year) who’d put a team in the relay. At the finish they invited me to join their vegan picnic – very tasty!
We got some well stocked goody bags, including a medal and a proper wicky Salomon running shirt. A quick lift back to the station and then Naomi, Adam and I headed down to Weymouth. We had separate B&Bs here as I was meeting up with Jim. He’d had a productive day at the beach: after buying a rock hammer in Lyme Regis, he went fossil hunting and brought back a couple of fine ammonite specimens. We went for pizza with too much wine (for me – Jim isn’t such a lightweight), followed by a stumble along the beach.
In the morning, Allan again picked us up in his role as superb chauffeur. The sat nav sent us to a young offenders institute (?!), but we finally worked out where to go and made it to the leisure centre on Portland to meet the Bustinskin guys - the various servicemen who organised the Chesil Coastal Challenge. It was a hot morning but the route along the coast was beautiful. There were some tough hills before the turnaround point, but they were worth it for the stunning views. Chesil beach is a natural structure sitting out at sea just off the coast. I really enjoyed this one, despite the heat (I suspect the light breeze helped me) and finished 36 seconds faster than on Saturday. And in 4th place (female). So both marathons were fairly slow at just over 4 hours 40 minutes, but I really enjoyed them. Adam won the Chesil Coastal in an impressive 3:12. There was a great spread of food put on, plus we had use of the swimming pool – very welcome! As was the birthday champagne Naomi brought along…
Jim had spent the morning on another beach seeking out further fossilage, before riding back home (on Haku – a bit of a treat while waiting for Hellboy to have his MOT this week).
It was a top weekend all in all (though I wore old trail shoes that didn’t fit, resulting in blisters, plus I managed to turn an ankle on a bit of steep singletrack, so that's a bit sore today... hey ho).