Harbour 11 miles to Southsea & back

11 miles blog

My plan for today was to gain some more insight into the Believe and Achieve Harbour 50K route that I’ve entered in December. Running from the maps green starting dot at Farlington Marshes, this also ties in with last weeks blog, where I travelled in the opposite direction. My return leg on this run will be the first 5.5 miles of both the marathon and the ultra as they begin to wind their way around Langstone Harbour.

Please ignore the maps red line heading back to Fareham, this was my error which appeared on my Strava download, ha, ha !!!

The Pyramids entertainment centre is located on Southsea’s seafront with views of the pier that dates back to 1879, the wide open esplanade and on Saturdays, Southsea parkrun.

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The irony of the Southsea parkrun was that by the time I was heading down to the front some 300 runners were heading in the opposite direction. I had four “you’re running the wrong way” comments 🙂 I saw a surprised Matt Fleet and Mark Brooks from Fareham Crusaders and David Brawn from Pompey Joggers as they ran their 5K.

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Once past the pier the seafront stretches out for some time until you reach Eastney swimming pool. Having mentioned the swimming pool I also saw about 80 wet suited swimmers preparing for an open water swim on my run down towards the seafront, as well as Paul Southon out running too. After crossing a couple of roads you then drop down onto literally the harbour mud, but, as long as you keep close to the tide mark its reasonable underfoot. However, stray too far down and you could loose a trainer !!!

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After following the “beach” for another few hundred metres you cross the Milton Lock bridge and then join the compacted harbour trail. It was at this point that you realise just how far around the harbour you’ll be running. There can’t be many races that you can see ten miles ahead of you, from mile 3 to Hayling Island and 13 miles point.

Following the trail you will next pass the Peoples Memorial which has both a flagpole and gardens. The memorial is a tribute to the men and women currently serving in the British Forces on foreign battlefields around the world. I found this a very powerful experience.

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A pub, caravan park and a number of water sport facilities then follow each other in rapid succession. The trail does vary between grass, sections of broken concrete and good tarmacked paths. Once passing by an aggregates business there’s then the peculiar experience of running through 200 metres of dense trees with pine needles and tree roots so care is needed here.

Out onto the environmentally reconstructed harbour bank I was within sight of my car park and the end of eleven miles. As my trusty watch says I managed to stay under 9 minute miles and hopefully this blog will give anyone involved a better idea of what to expect.

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Harbour 50K Challenge : Training

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A 31 mile run in the middle of December … what can possibly go wrong 🙂

Starting on Southsea seafront the 50K takes in all of Langstone Harbour, then down the old Hayling Billy railway line and almost as far as the ferry. Once you’ve turned around all you have to do is retrace your steps !!

This blog is aimed at giving runners who don’t know the area an insight into what to expect. Naturally this will apply to both the Believe and Achieve marathon and the ultra, both of which still have “some” places available. Today I ran a 7 mile out and back section of the route starting from a small car park that’s where the course meets the A27 as my strava map shows below. What it also shows is that my watch ran out of battery at 8.5 miles !!! But it does relate well to the course map.

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The first two miles of my run would be on tarmac and more importantly a cycle lane that connects Portsmouth to Havant. Even on race day this will be the case so please bear this in mind !! That said, I was impressed with the amount of cyclists that rang bells or shouted “coming through” as we all took in Farlington Marshes to our right.

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As I got into my stride I pondered how the wind would effect todays run and of course what might lay in wait on the day. The horse shoe shape of Langstone Harbour means that the wind can come at you from different angles, only for a brief couple of hundred metres or a prolonged breeze so basically its best not to overthink it, you just have to go with the flow !!

Once off the shoreline the route briefly skirts the edge of Havant before a sharp right turn that takes you back towards the coast again.

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The track narrows as you pass the sea defences and within another half a mile Hayling Bridges are in sight. A short section of shingle adds to the “seaside” feal of the course but it’s only 200 metres or so.

I’d point out the next section of the coastal path here as it does need some caution with it being quite rough with stones and larger bricks which stick out. This section doesn’t last for long thankfully but it also leads to a short muddy section with a style. Once through, that’s really the only technical section of the whole course.

I mentioned Hayling Bridges earlier, there’s the current road bridge and then there’s the remnants of the old Railway Bridge that hasn’t been operational for some decades now. What I did like was the signal that’s been erected as a reminder of days gone by. My photo below was slightly off the race route but worth a snap 🙂

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The Hayling Billy railway line have compressed soil and stone which is ideal to run on and it’s also quite wide too. The harbour views extend across to Portsmouth with its Spinnaker Tower and out towards the Isle of White. Quite a few sections of the line have hedges that give cover from the elements (we will be running in December) and with the nature of the race being “out and back” we’ll see the quicker marathon runners heading towards us, which will be great for motivational banter !!

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I didn’t go as far as the ultra turn around point today but I’ll blog about that in the coming weeks. Once I’d reached 7 miles I turned around and headed back. The line was well used by dog walkers, parents and children, even a horse rider so again these will be factors to take into consideration on the day.

Portsdown Hill stretches across the skyline on your return leg and it’s intriguing to look across the harbour to see where you’ll be in an hour or two’s time. Once over the bridge I had four miles left and I have to say the shingle section was harder work than I remembered what with the seaweed and drift wood that needed negotiating. However, it doesn’t last for long 🙂

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All in all today was a solid 14 miles on my own just as a recce and reminder because I haven’t run around her for some time. I’m looking at getting a few of us together in the coming weeks so I’ll be able to add other local runners views to mine.

There were no hills today which makes a pleasant change and its always enjoyable running by the sea, it just seems to have a relaxing effect on you 🙂 It’s a varied route so there’s something for everyone.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my course notes, if you have then maybe you’d consider voting for my blog in the Running Awards ?

This link will take you to the website, category Publications & Online then Blogs and simply scroll down to irunoffroad …. Vote here

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Being a Guest Blogger

DSC00726Over the last couple of months I’ve twice been asked to contribute a piece about my running experiences and I’m both pleased and proud to have been asked. All my blogs have the underlying aim of promoting trail running so I’ve enjoyed contributing to both the runr clothing brands #irunbecause with a blog entitled Why I chose the trails and recently on the Winchester Bloggers website with Running the Winchester Ways

The nature of a long run through the country also lends itself to occasional photos. Keeping a look out for interesting examples of what you may come across certainly adds to your thought process as the miles tick by. The right photo can really add depth to your narrative.

The Winchester Bloggers request was a great example of not only covering a lovely part of the world but being able to step back in time and research some of the history that laid behind the route I took. So many trails lay undiscovered by the general public and it’s a real privilege to not only run them, but to promote them.

As a blogger I think its great to widen your horizons by reading about other peoples passions and how they express themselves. I looked at food, drink and lifestyle posts on the Winchester site. We can all learn off each other 🙂

Keep on blogging and maybe have a read of my two posts above !!

Thanks