Harbour 50K Challenge : Training


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.


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.


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.


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 🙂


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 !!


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 🙂


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

Many thanks.