But first let's get up to date with the last part of my 2014 challenge, the Beachy Head marathon, my favourite trail marathon, with the Three Forts Challenge a close second. I love running up on the South Downs as the views are spectacular if the weather is good, which it certainly was yesterday. Not too hot, slightly overcast and with just the gentlest of breezes. The only slight issue was that the ground was rather slippery in parts because of the heavy rain during the week but that was a minor niggle.
My right hamstring is still rather tight and I knew it wasn't going to enjoy some of the steeper descents and I wasn't wrong! No worries though as I wasn't chasing a fast time, I just wanted to get round in one piece and enjoy the day.
I haven't got any photos of me yet from Sussexsportphotography.com but I have a funny story to tell when Ant sends them through!
I'll let the photos I took en-route speak for themselves as they give a good feel of the route and the atmosphere.
|A moody sky over the sea|
|An ambulance positioned at the foot of the first hill!|
|The registration area where you collected your timing chip|
|The obligatory queue for the toilets!|
|The inflatable 'start' line with mats that you have to run over to activate your race timing chip (attached to you ankle)|
There are lots more photos of the route in my post from 2012 where I took a loads more photos than I did yesterday.
|The piper at the top of the first hill - this year everyone wanted to have their photo taken with him|
|This lady wanted a better view so climbed up onto the monument! - she wasn't a runner|
|Looking back over Eastbourne|
|The mud on one of the early slopes was very slippery!|
|The expansive views are so beautiful they take your breath away|
|Look how tiny those runners look in the landscape|
|The sun popped out for a while and some of the paths dried up. This one is mostly chalk with loose flints on top, which can cause you to trip, so sensible runners chose the path along the grass|
The reason it's a special feed station; they're preparing you for the toughest part of the course!
|Refreshed by a cup of tea and food we trekked up this grassy bank which was very slippery - it's hard to show just how steep that bit is|
|After the grassy slope we go downhill, across a flat bit, over a bridge and then wallop, it's the first long set of steps, but there are much steeper and longer ones to come……..|
|…and here they are. I turned around about 1/2 way up and shouted "smile please". I don't think the man on the right felt like smiling though!|
|After scaling the steps we climb over a low stone wall and run down a really steep grassy slope to go past Cuckmere Haven|
|This is the view when at the bottom of the first hill|
|This is the view, using the same zoom, but from the top of the hill! I wish I could have captured the sound of the sea crashing against the shoreline (which is pebbles) as it was magnificent|
|A side view of one of the 7 Sisters|
|Only another 3 Sisters to go. On the top of the last one you can see the Belle tout lighthouse which is famous for being featured in a TV series "the Life and Times of a She Devil' many years ago and for having been moved further back from the edge of the cliffs (yes really!) because of coastal erosion. The other thing of note is the row of houses just before there as last year one of them had to be demolished and the remainder repaired and strengthened, again due to coastal erosion you can read about it here|
|People have been warned to stay away from the edge of the cliffs because they are unstable. Last time I ran this there wasn't any chalk visible along the top of the cliffs|
|A group of twitchers waiting for a bird to appear from the bushes|
|You can tell how windy it gets up there from the growth of this tree|
|Heading back down the hill to the finish line|
|I think this photo gives a better feel of just how steep that blimming hill is. I picked my way down by going sideways and very slowly!|
|This van positioned just after the finish line made me smile with it's logo copying that of the post office|
As I haven't got a finish line photo yet I'll share this one from 2006 which I think really captures the spirit of it:
|Heading for the finish line with Jan in 2006, my first Beachy Head marathon. We ran half of it together and it was such great fun|
|The last marathon medal in my 2014 challenge|
More photos to follow soon.