Meon Valley Recce : 15 miles of smiles

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I like to run, I like running more when it’s in a beautiful location and I like running even more, when it’s with friends. Today was just one of those memorable days when the October sun shone and we had 15 miles of local countryside to enjoy. If I made this statement to most people they wouldn’t see it as fun but that’s why they should try to #getoutdoors. The benefits are both physical and physiological. The smiles on everyone’s faces (even on the hills) were plain to see. (Thanks to Ros for the photo)

Phil and Teresa from Second Wind Running were our hosts on a recce run for their half/ full marathon on November 6th and this even included sweets and drink hidden in hedgerows. We all met at the East Meon village hall and were off just after 10am. Todays group was made up of Phil & Teresa plus Crusaders Paul & Nikki, Ros from Gosport RR, Dean from pompey and 4 more runners for us to get to know from different clubs that included Mike from Stubbington Green and Mark all the way from the New Forest. The aim of the day was an all inclusive pace which lent its self to some photo and chatting opportunities. The photos suggest it was all hills but naturally you go down what you have just come up !!

We were soon on the South Downs Way heading for the hills above the Meon church. This section of the run is quite technical in that there are narrow tracks with barbed wire, electric fences either side of a six feet wide path that’s on a camber and then the steep run up to the top through two fields. These fields can have either sheep or cows, today they had both !!

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dscf4897Needless to say we walked past the cows especially seeing as a few of our group aren’t too keen on them (they are big !!). Once past the cows we were treated to the panoramic view across the valley.

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Pressing on through a number of fields and tracks we had to navigate an over grown section where Phil used a branch to flatten the nettles and brambles (compression socks came in handy here). Phil pointed out where the feed stations would be on the day and there were running discussion as well as some cheeky banter that’s also part of any good group run. Everyone was running well considering their recent long races.

The next landmarks on our route were the narrow steep and rutted ascent up towards the back of Butser and then after a couple more miles of trails we approached Harvesting Lane which is a tarmac climb up to the top of the Downs.

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Two tough hills but you just know that they are building up your strength and ultimately they were “so steep” you just had to laugh. We regrouped at the top simply to take in the views that todays bright and clear weather had rewarded us with. Great views were made to be shared. We carried on along the SDW tracks heading back towards the Sustainability Centre (SC). Paul, Ros, Nikki and Dean were pleased to see the SC sign !!

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The final two miles were hard work for me but the encouragement of my mates got me through. I have included more photos than usual this week simply to try and get across how beautiful the route is. One final photo is that of the Isle of White in the distance, some 20 miles away on the horizon !!

I’m not ready for the full marathon yet but I’ll definitely be there for the Half. Thanks to Phil and Teresa for organising today. A great day with the sun, scenery, humour and hills #getoutdoors.

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