The Picnic Marathon is billed as the UK's toughest, mainly as it's set on the North Downs and involves a convoluted route going over Box Hill and the adjacent White Hill several times. Including going up the steps by the stepping stones a few times (you'll know the ones if you've climbed them).
When I entered, I hadn't already arranged to do the Enduroman 100 miler the previous weekend. And my lingering special needs right hip flexor and left foot meant that I probably shouldn't have even ventured down to Surrey. But they allow the option of stopping half way (which is enforced if the first half takes over 3 hours), where you can pick up a T-shirt, mug and medal for the Midsummer Munro ("the UK's toughest half marathon"!) so I figured I might as well go for an interesting training run.Within a couple of miles I could tell that my injuries were slowing me a lot on the steps, but even on the more friendly, flatter sections I also had a very lethargic (and limpy) pace. So I figured I'd just do the half and enjoy the afternoon (we started at 2pm). It was intermittently hot-sunshiney and thunder-showery. The stepping stones were ankle-deep in fast-flowing water (unlike in the picture above, which was clearly taken at a more tranquil time). There was a fantastic atmosphere with lashings of encouragement from the marshals and the other runners. I had a great time, not at all disappointed at not finishing the Picnic, glad of the opportunity to be sensible and avoid further damage to my legs and feet. I still took in six ascents of Box Hill and went twice over the neighbouring and equally tough White Hill. Plus the Munro T-shirt is a decent wicky one that I'll actually use. And actually I really enjoyed the course, so am keen to go back in 2013 (they only do it every couple of years) to finish the Picnic properly when I'm fit. Another top event to go on the to-do list then.