The plan for today was to run 23 miles in preparation for the 33 miles I will be running at the Imber Ultra in 4 weeks time. That’s 70% of the race mileage and plenty of time to recover. Today “marked” the welcome return from injury of Mark Greenfield to our long runs, also accompanying us were Howard Stinton for the outward 8 miles and two newcomers Jess Davidson and Trevor Kettle, who would be with us for 16 miles.
The 23 ish miles were an out and back run along the South Downs Way from Queen Elizabeth Country park (QECP) to Old Winchester Hill (OWH) and back. This was then to be followed by Mark and myself on a 6.75 miles loop that takes in part of the Staunton Way. Total elevation 2,600 feet. Naturally Strava & other apps may state differently but over 2.5K !!
Our 7.30am start meant getting up at 5.40am for me but we were still home by 1pm with all the miles done. As we set off from QECP the darkness had just began to lift and Butser Hill was approaching. We had no “pace” agenda today what with the hills, miles and mud so a couple of fine tuning stops weren’t an issue as we began our ascent. Howard soon disappeared up the incline but then also looped back. The wind picked up as we got to the top of the Downs and made our way to the Sustainability centre and those huge houses opposite. The wind could almost be looked at as extra resistance training !!
A steady descent down wireless hill, due to the slippy chalk, was then followed by a mixture of muddy trails and roads until we reached the path that leads to OWH. It was at this point that I had a “coming together” with the ground, a combination of the camber and a lack on concentration meant I did a graceful forward roll !! We then pressed on to the bottom of OWH which naturally meant running back up. The photo below shows the steep incline waiting for us. Jess and Trevor have a long hilly run in Cornwall planned so I threw this steep section in just to add some more ascents.
Howard left so as to run home and the four of us made our way back. The return route had the advantage of the wind behind us but also a number of long gradual hills. As we made our way from a long concrete path onto the mud again there was a shout from one of the two oncoming runners, Chris Hall from Stubbington Green gave me a hearty “hello Roger”. The long chalky climb up wireless hill was a real leg burner but we all taped out a rhythm and were pleased to make it to the top. Trevor had picked up a calf strain so well done to him for largely ignoring it. A couple of wet miles followed with those puddles that fill up the whole track as well as your trainers and we were back at Butser.
Quite soon after these photos Mark ended up on the seat of his pants when his legs went away from underneath him but again, as with my fall, it was laughable more than an injury !! At QECP we thanks Jess and Trevor for joining us and they both said they’d be back for more “Thomasson Tours”.
All, that remainder were 6.75 miles with about 850 feet of elevation which we took in our stride with short walks when needed. The 20 mile marker was celebrated by taking on some sweet snacks we’d brought and even though the wind was still blowing at least we’d missed the rain. On arriving back at QECP it was “job done”, 23 miles, 1 fall each and a very satisfying feeling that we were both on track for our future targets. It’s a reflection of Mark’s general fitness that after only a few weeks of gradual training he bounced back with this long run. Another mark of the run was that I washed off the worst of the mud before putting my compression socks in the washing machine and I cleaned my shoes as soon as I’d had dinner as they were filthy and smelt !! Mud, glorious mud 🙂
Great morning, great views and great company.