Running Butser Hill – the beauty & the beast

Image-7I’ve been drawn to Butser Hill for over a quarter of a century. This iconic hill was the location of my first race when I moved to Hampshire and I never tire of return visits. Situated not far from Petersfield it towers above the A3 and offers any elevation hungry runners, walkers or riders the opportunity to test themselves.

Why ? I hear you say …. well, apart from the personal satisfaction, the views are amazing !! Portsmouth Spinnaker tower and the Isle of Wight to name two.

I arrived early enough to have the whole hill to myself. The shadows that darkened its lower slope would soon disappear as the morning sun rose and a steady trickle of “outdoors types” appeared from Queen Elizabeth Country Park on the other side of the A3.

Image-6 Butser can be climbed from a few different angles but I stuck with the main path that then forks off to the right on its way towards the trig point at the top.

Sheep and cows both graze on different slopes and at different times of the year so the grass is short wherever they have been. Naturally, our four legged friends can leave behind clues that they’ve been there, so bear this in mind.

Its worth saying that the visitors centre is currently being modernised so temporary structures are in place.

In order to gauge the height of the hill this next photo shows the view looking back from the fence line and gate that crosses between the wooded areas.

Image-9The hill gradually ramps up and then there’s the steepest section of 150 metres or so. The fact that you can only see the heads of the two walkers gives you an indication of the gradient. It’s here that your breathing and fortitude are tested, “keep on going” !!

Once through the gate its onwards and upwards for a gradual climb towards the satellite mast and then the terrain flattens once you reach the summit and the trig point.


Image-10Statistically the elevation is around 500 feet from the car park to the trig and 400 from the lower slopes of my first photo. This is enough to earn it the “beast” status I refer to in my title. Distance wise thats about a mile and a quarter and a mile.

I could let you into a secret that there’s actually a car park just the other side of the satellite mast as well as a café but you’d be missing out on the challenge of getting there !!

My personal aim for the day was four ascents. Hill 1, ran all the way, Hill 2, ran most of the way, Hill 3, combined walking and running, Hill 4, probably a 50/50 run/walk.

Yes your calves and thighs are tested to the full on the way up and there’s an inevitable jarring of your quads as you make the descent but you really can’t replicate this kind of hill training. Strength and confidence are gained in equal measures.

On one of the descents I had to negotiate “Hill Security” ….. I asked kindly if they’d “move” over. With this area being part of the South Downs National Park all the livestock are used to visitors but these cows are big old units so I showed them lots of respect.

Image-11The countryside is such an asset and it’s often closer to us than we think. My focus today was strength work running up and down this hill but in the process you are treading a path that’s been used for hundreds of years along the South Downs Way and effectively going back in time because it would have looked exactly the same, apart from the main road !!

In summary, a beautiful location that’s well worth a drive out to.

Thanks for reading, Roger

Trail running : A tale of the trails


As a trail running blogger, by definition, I love to write about where I’ve been. I enjoy sharing my experiences and maybe, just maybe it will motivate others to follow in my trainer footsteps on a rural run.

My most recent run was along the Meon Valley Trail (MVT) which heads north out of Wickham with a gradual incline, as befits an old railway line, on its way toward West Meon.

The trail is reasonably wide and is sheltered on either side by well established trees that form a green tunnel of foliage at this time of the year. I planned seven miles of the MVT which would take me to the point where the South Downs Way crosses and I’d use this to run up Old Winchester Hill.

I ran on a Friday morning which curiously gave my adventure an unexpected feeling of freedom, on the one hand I felt like I was skipping school (even though that was many years ago) and on the over I knew most people would be on their way to work. Starting at 7.30 a.m. also gave me a mindful experience with few distractions.

My early start was rewarded with the views of a white carpet of frost on many of the fields that back onto the MVT as well as the birdsong that comes from there being no one else interfering with their morning rituals.

To my left the Meon River winds its way towards Wickham and ultimately Titchfield and the sea. The water flows at quite a pace due to the gradual incline and it is crystal clear. On a good day you could potentially spot either a kingfisher or a vowel. An additional benefit of today’s run was the seasonal abundance of beautiful bluebells.

The wind swishes through the trees and there’s an occasional rustle of branches, probably due to a squirrel. Days like today are to be fully absorbed, who needs headphones when there’s so much to take in.

As I reach my appointment with the South Downs Way I leave the shelter of the trees and start the climb up towards Old Winchester Hill. I can immediately feel the sun on my face and the wind on my cheek as the elements welcome me to the open countryside.

The trail isn’t too muddy but I pay attention to the sections were horses have churned up the soil. As my elevation ramps up the tree roots that appear from under the hedgerows remind me that taking in the views needs to be combined with focusing on the matter at hand.


My next reminder of Spring is the sight of lambs with their protective parents. I try my best not to startle them but I guess they’re quite familiar with ramblers and runners.

Reaching Old Winchester Hill the surrounding countryside pans out 360 degrees around you from the trig point.


Green, yellow and brown farmers fields all contrast against the mornings blue sky. Again on a good day Red Kites and buzzards can be spotted, however it was man made fight that I observed today with two paragliders.

There’s one last drag up to the highest point in this area of the park and it kept the best until last. Yet more contrasts of colour.

friday6All that was left was to retrace my steps, take care on the downhill and carry on soaking up both the views and the peace and quiet.

Mindfulness is all about living in the moment even if that moment lasted 18 miles and just over 3 hours.

Go for a run in the country and connect with your surroundings.

Thanks for reading


Cancer Awareness & the Parkrun Spirit


Saturdays 14 miler had just about everything that’s great about our local running community and the unseasonably warm weather complimented the warm welcome that the 5K Your Way – Move Against Cancer guys received from regulars at the Lee-On-The-Solent Parkrun 

My plan for the morning was ……….

Head over towards Titchfield village, then along the canal to the sea, follow the coast along to the parkrun, meet Sue and her Cancer Awareness group, run the 5K and then head back home.

So, first things first, who are 5K Your Way- Move Against Cancer ? Well, “in their own words”, they are a support group with a difference. A community based initiative to encourage those living with and beyond cancer, their families, friends and those working in cancer services to walk, jog, run, cheer or volunteer at a local 5k Your Way parkrun event, on the last Saturday of every month.

I first became aware of the group after seeing a twitter post by Sue Rourke and then reading the following page on the Lee parkrun website … Click on this link !!

Considering that we live in an age when small deeds are labelled as “epic” or someone that buys you a pint is a “legends” Sue, really is, inspirational.

I’d encourage everyone reading my blog to click on the link above and take the time to read about a lady who has incurable cancer and is fighting it on her own terms by encouraging others to come along. Sue, who has run 5K’s and up to a marathon is part of a national network of such groups that parkrun has embraced.

The seven miles that took me to Lee included a favourite stretch of mine, the Titchfield Canal. I met Keith from Fareham Crusaders on route and then saw a number of other running friends as I looked for Sue and her group.

112leeTo be honest I was quite surprised at the size of the 5K My Way group and as Sue lined us up for the photo that starts my blog it was clear a good 50 extra people would be participating in the parkrun.

I chatted to Sue and her passion for the project shone through.

Some ran, sum jogged, some walked but everyone followed in the parkrun tradition of encouraging each other. Becky from the group gave everyone new to the parkrun experience a briefing and then this was followed by a warm introduction from the event director.

Lee parkrun is an out and back course so there are numerous occasions on which you pass each other. Naturally this meant “well done” “thank you” and “keep going” were all terms used over and over again.

Unfortunately, on this occasion, I couldn’t hang around at the end to chat more because I still had a few miles left to run but luckily I saw both Sue and Becky as I headed back up the coast. I stopped and chatted to both ladies promising that I’ll be back in four weeks time (April 27th) when I can spend more time getting to understand their supportive work.

I recognised a whole host of Fareham Crusaders, Gosport Road Runners and other friends from our local area that all share and contribute to the parkrun spirit. As of today another fifty people joined our community and I’ve got a feeling the two groups will benefit each other.

Lets out run cancer together.


This is my Strava map from today with the parkrun being the furthest stretch along the coast. With the breaks in my running the pace dropped off a bit but hey !! “who cares”, today was a memorable morning.

My family, just like so many others, has been affected by cancer which is why I was keen to write this blog.

Thanks for reading and please, follow those links for some truly inspirational reading.







SKINS DNAmic Compression shorts Review


How many sponsored reviews have you read that claim the product was “pants” ?? Not many, I’m sure. Thanks very much to SKINS for sending me these to try. I have nothing but praise, they offer support, wick away sweat and are so comfortable you almost forget you have them on !! I wear them on all of my long runs now.

Yes, we are talking “pants”, and more specifically SKINS DNAmic Core compression shorts. I’ve used other compression shorts and a combination of underwear, with them, so this was to be new territory with just wearing one pair.

The reason I’ve put off writing about them is because I wanted to give them quite a few outings and make sure I’d run for two hours plus.

Your running under garments may not be an issue during a 5 or 10K but once you start running longer distances then comfort and support becomes a topic that needs to be addressed.

I’ve previously blogged about SKINS compression socks and as a company I believe they live up to their marketing claims, ….. i.e.

“We create bloody good sportswear that makes everyone the best they can be”…. TICK

“We believe that how you play sport defines how you live life” ….. TICK.

I completely agree with both of these statements and especially the second because as an endurance runner I believe that willpower, staying power and an ability to cope with whatever’s thrown at you, over long periods, all transfer into your self belief when tackling, non running everyday tasks.

Previously I’ve worn compression shorts that were a similar length to cycling shorts but these feel far less restrictive, don’t show from under my actual running shorts and still provide great support.

You’ll be pleased to know I resisted the temptation to include a photo of me wearing my tight shorts. I’m aware that such images could have long lasting effects !!! Ha Ha 🙂

I chose extra large, not because of any physical attributes, but because from experience I’ve found one size up helps me.

Trail running puts a different kind of demand on your body compared with road running. The extra demands that running up a hill put on your thighs and bottom are then matched with the pounding on the way downhill. SKINS compression shorts suit the demands of these activities.

The support that SKINS compression shorts offer can be measured in both physical and mental terms.

My shorts reassure me that I’ll have no chaffing or friction issues and no riding up of underwear because I’m wearing one garment that fits me very well, including my sensitive area. As the hours of running effort pass by SKINS help to make the process bearable.

I’m reassured because I know the support will minimise any strains or injuries and wearing them will make a huge difference to the muscle soreness that I might otherwise be suffering, both during and after my run.

Sore hips are a frequent source of trail running pain, what with the changing elevation and terrain. SKINS compression shorts won’t magic this away but they certainly make a noticeable difference. Equally, walking up and down stairs the following day can be a painful experience so wearing them on your training/race day will continue to help your recovery.

I’ve had IT band issues in the past which can appear all the way up the side of your thigh and into your buttock. No longer !!

Armed with all of these benefits I set off with confidence on my long runs knowing that I’m giving myself the best possible foundation with compression shorts.

Thanks for reading


Breakfast Club – #running #community

gos2When you hear the phrase “community spirit” a number of traits come to mind ….. energy, willingness, pride and teamwork. All of these attributes can be seen when you visit a GosVegas running session whether it be Wednesday at 5.45pm or as I did this week, an 8am Sunday Breakfast Club.

The GosVegas running community has a far wider reach than just its base in Gosport because it draws in like minded people from both local running clubs and parkruns. So, whether you belong to an affiliated club or whether you’ve been swept up with the phenomenon that parkrun has become, these two friendly and free opportunities are well worth a visit.

The catalyst behind this all inclusive offering of positivity is Nick Carter, who’s had quite an impact on our running community. The principle reason for me writing this post is quite simply to spread the word and encourage more people to tap into their spirit.

The Sunday Breakfast Club offers an hours worth of running followed by a chance to unwind in the Bayside café. Located in Stokes Bay this means free parking until 10am, the café as an HQ and plenty of scope to run.

On arrival a bracing wind was blowing in off the Solent and as thirty of us gathered in the car park there was a sense of amusement as to the speed we’d be running with the wind behind us. Conversely, Stokes Bay and Gosport may be flat but when you’re running against winds like this it almost feels like hill work !! So, we were in for a good work out.


As well as Nick, I’d met Kim, Emma and Nicky from Gosport Road runners before we set off. Nicky gave me a rough idea of the route that we’d follow just before Nick asked us to gather for a group photo.

Having our photo taken at the beginning of the run was another “inclusive” touch. Naturally the group would split up during the run and some people would jump into their cars as soon as they’d finished but, regardless of your pace, we all felt part of the session by being included in the group photo.


As we followed the coast down to the golf course I chatted and introduced myself to Paul, Nickie and Faye. We all commented on the glorious view, what with the Isle of Wight as the backdrop and the white crested waves that were being blown up by the wind.

As we rounded the Gillkicker Fort I chatted with Fareham Crusaders Sarah and Nick. From half way on I ran with Faye and we soon found out that we had a mutual running friend she works with, we’d both served on the committees of our running clubs and we’d both run similar races.

The route wound its way along the sea wall and then back through more residential roads. Nick appeared at the bottom of Jellico Avenue to point us in the right direction and before you knew it we were battling against the wind and heading back towards the café.

I clearly wasn’t expecting a photo on arrival because even though I smiled and gave a thumbs up I managed to have my eyes closed …. ha ha !!

gos3 I was a little pressed for time so my visit to the café was fairly short but I was there long enough to chat with two more runners and marvel at the breakfasts that were being served. The nautical theme of the traditional breakfasts amused me, what with it starting with a dingy, increasing in size to an IOW Ferry and then the largest offering was … you guessed it, a “Titanic” full English.

So, in summary I chatted to more people that I didn’t know than I did know which, in its self, sums up their running community spirit. In this day and age of mobile phones it’s great to actually chat with like minded people and experience a sense of togetherness.

Thank you Nick and your welcoming GosVegas runners. I’d definitely recommend popping by and as a famous action film start once said …… “I’ll be back”.

Enjoy your running and thanks for reading.


Running with a “Spring” in your stride


The phrase “Winter miles make Summer smiles” can apply in a number of difference circumstances. For me it refers to building my running miles back up again after a quiet spell. Rediscovering your self belief is a powerful emotion and this weekend has fuelled the fire even more.

I ran on Friday and Saturday for the second week in a row and as you can see from the photo above I’ve washed my Ultimate Direction running vest now that I’m on the verge of justifying it with the miles I’m achieving.

Running 3.3 and 8 miles last weekend and then 4.5 and 9 this now means that I’m on track for a training run approaching two hours. My clean and considerably better smelling running vest is another metaphor towards starting a fresh. I’m excited, I’m ready to commit.

There’s no better feeling than leaving work on a Friday afternoon knowing the weekend is waiting for you. Having plans with goals attached to them really does add to your anticipation.

My largely desk bound job does mean the first half of my run commute feels a little laboured but once you’re out there all those project lists, meeting requests and deadlines simply fade away.


I’m a firm believer of living in the moment and that’s exactly what I did. I took this photo because I went out of my way to include this stretch. Getting outdoors and discovering these footpaths add an extra dimension to your running.

Saturdays alarm clock went off at 7.30am and it was a case of “up and at them”, I polished off my porridge and contemplated where I would run. My target mileage was 9 ish miles and knowing the coast is about 3 & 1/2 I set off in search of the seaside.

The early morning mist soon burned off and the glorious morning sunshine came streaming through. Technically today was still a run in the Winter sun but the daffodil’s and snowdrops really add to your sense of anticipation that Spring isn’t far away.

I said hello to quite a few runners including Lee Rhodes, over literally 200 metres. I crossed the road he said hello, I said I’m puffing and blowing already, he said I’m off to the parkrun, I said I’m off to the coast, so we wished each other well and carried on.

abb3Arriving at the coast I was reminded just how lucky we are in this part of Hampshire to have the South Downs in striking distance as well as the sea on our doorstep. With the Isle of Wight on the horizon and the shingle stretched out ahead of me the only question was when to turn around and head back.

abb2I stopped for a drink and took these couple of photos before setting off. There’s something very relaxing about running by the sea, you can taste the salt on your lips and the sound of the lapping waves adds a sense of calm.

Running challenges me on some days and it relaxes me on others. The benefits are endless and I’m so glad I’ve rediscovered all of these aspects.

Today might have been February but I was running with a “Spring” in my stride. Nine miles to add to yesterdays 4 & 1/2, even with a slight cold, has motivated me for the coming weeks. A pace of around nine minute miles was fine for what I had in mind.

Talking of a run in the sun if you follow this link I’ve been impressed with their Instagram page photos and website, who knows one day it could be irunoffroad in Spain !!

On my return home I was reminded of a badge I made with my kids probably ten years ago. It sits with all my other favourite endurance race medals.


It’s good to know that ten years ago I considered “I’ve still got it” and even though I’ll never be fast I’m still content with being fit, healthy and happy.

Yes, I believe “I’ve still got it” 🙂 ………. Thanks for reading




Running sets you free !!



My last two blog posts have charted how I’ve turned around quite a few weeks of low motivation for running. It’s great to say I’m back on track.

I finished work a little earlier on Friday because the sunshine was streaming through the office windows. Yes, the local woods were calling me ….. “come and run, come and run”.

I only had limited time but 5K was still on the cards and after the recent rain that run-shine really charged up my batteries, #solar power.

The pace wasn’t great and I’d admit to stopping for a couple of photos but with the late afternoon sun peaking out between the trees it was a joy to be out there.

I often add hash tags like #getoutside #nature and #countryside to my twitter posts and its locations and moments like this that both inspire and motivate me. Running sets you free 🙂

As off road runners we can sometimes take these glorious places for granted but it reinforced why I love what we do and why I enjoy writing about it.

So, that was me fired up for Saturday morning. The alarm went off at 7.30am and I looked out of the window to see thick fog. OK, I’m not going to lie this was a little disappointing after Fridays pre Spring and Summer sun but the fact that I hadn’t spent time pondering whether to get out of bed in the first place meant ….. “the boy is back” !!

I had eight miles planned for the next step in my progression which also included 1,000 feet of elevation. I may have lost some basic fitness but I still have good legs from cycling 🙂

This Strava elevation graphic gives you the basic idea of what I wanted to achieve, and did.


Setting off from Meonstock my first priority was to enjoy it. I headed for Beacon Hill which is on the South Downs Way and is at about 40 of the 53 miles of the Race to the King route.

The race uses a country lane to get to the top so I used this approach rather than the trail alternative. I’m a firm believer in practicing what I’m going to encounter. The heavy mist meant small droplets of water were dripping off the overhanging branches and the rows of vines in the vineyard to my left could only be seen for a hundred metres.

The lane that leads to the trig point ramps up in three different places so the order of the day was slow and steady. I was very pleased to reach the top without walking.

I took this photo on the way back down, no views across the valley but the eerie mist made my trail experience quite different to the norm.

ex3Reaching Exton I set my sights on Old Winchester Hill. I knew it would be muddy and the trail didn’t disappoint. Good traction, balance and feet to eye coordination were all employed to the max. That said I needed to walk through a couple of very boggy sections !!

The final leg of OWH is the steepest and with damp tree roots, care needs to be taken. Once at the top again I was robbed of the view so I settled for a trig photo while I took a drink.


The various destinations are mapped out but one was missing …. Rogers route back to running 🙂

I took care on the descent (if you are running RTTK this is probably the most technical section of the whole run)

Returning to Meonstock I’d bagged eight miles and two trig points but most importantly I was smiling and plotting my next run.

“All blue eyes is back”

Thanks for reading, Roger

“Message in a Bottle” 10K run #police


Since last weeks blog post entitled “Are you a running believer” I haven’t run. So, in many ways that would suggest I’m not, hmm …… ??

99.9% of my blog posts are positive but I think it’s important to recognise that sometimes we have a dip in our enthusiasm. The good news is I’ve turned the corner.

I’ve been contemplating on what piece of the jigsaw has been missing and the great news is that on todays wet and windy six miler I have realised what it is.

Seems I’m not alone at being alone with these running mojo thoughts. Thank you to the people who have contacted me on this topic.

So, here goes my train of thought. I sing or hum to myself quite a lot while I’m running, weird maybe ? but I do like music. The Police, (the band) had a big hit with “Message in a Bottle” and while I was humming this a number of things fell into place.

For younger readers or simply people that enjoy the song here’s the video.

While I’ve been trying to process why I’m not enjoying running I’ve been looking for an answer. So effectively I’ve been a castaway, an island lost at sea and maybe unknowingly I’ve been sending out an SOS, hoping someone gets my message in a bottle.


A month has passed since I metaphorically sent my note but I should have known right from the start only hope can keep me together and that’s why I set off today in the wind and rain to find my answer.

I wasn’t even sure in which direction I’d run today and then I started singing, not out loud, well parts of it were … ha ha and as the rain started I pondered that the classic messages would be sent from a desert islands.

So, I decided on running a circular six mile route which I’d imagine was an island. OK, Stubbington might not have beaches of palm trees but today it would be “my” island.

This is the beauty of running on your own, you can think about nothing at all or you can explore your thoughts. I decided not to look at the pace on my watch, just to run how I felt. This did mean slowing right down on occasions and then it struck me. It was almost like a coconut had dropped on my head !!

I haven’t been running so I’m not as fit, if you aren’t as fit the overall experience isn’t quite as enjoyable. If you miss training runs then unknowingly you feel unfit and you don’t believe in yourself as much. I’ve almost been avoiding running and using life events as an excuse.

It’s time to get back to basics, enjoy your running and it will pay you back with that endorphin buzz, a better nights sleep and an excited anticipation for when you go out next. That’s the simple answer.

Ran out this morning, don’t believe what I saw, the answer was in front of me, on the Stubbington shore (again metaphorically speaking).


This is a Strava image of my running desert island that I ran in an anti clockwise direction. My revelation happened at the bottom right hand corner and from then on I started planning how I’m going to fit in more running.

The idea of swopping one of my cycle commutes for a run commute will start this week and I hope to try and get back to attending my Fareham Crusaders running club night on a Thursday.

Running has helped my physical and mental wellbeing for over thirty years, maybe my kitchen photo at the beginning of this blog shows I just needed a “Sting” to remind me.

Thanks for reading, Roger

Are you a Running Believer ?


I love running, it’s been really good for me, it helps me relax, it helps me sleep, it gives me a sense of achievement and it boosts my wellbeing, so why am I struggling to get out ?

We all have callings on our time, jobs, family’s, responsibilities etc etc but it’s really important to have a distraction, a hobby, a pastime. Mine is running.

I wrote a blog recently about wellbeing and to be honest I haven’t been taking my own advice. I talked about making payments into the “Bank of Me”. Creating a life balance between you, your family and your work is the key.

This might sound selfish but I’m not the same person without running so, ironically, getting back out there will benefit everyone.

I cycle commute virtually every weekday but unless I’m running I find the edge goes off my lung and leg capacity.

Maybe a run commute could be the answer ? That way the family have the car and I get to run 🙂

Have I just answered my own question, ha ha !! That’s the power of collecting your thoughts while writing.

I’m a firm believer that physical fitness takes mental strength and for that you have to believe in yourself. I’ve entered Race to the King which is a double marathon in June so I now have a focus.

It’s time to become a “believer” again !!

Running the local fields this weekend has fired me up, so, watch out 2019 I’m coming to get you !!!


The last 4 miles of Race to the King #revisited


I’ve entered the 2019 Race to the King which is a 53 mile and 5,000 feet elevation race from Slindon in Sussex to Winchester in Hampshire.

I wanted to start my preparation by revisiting the section of the race that gave me the most satisfaction and curiously most dissatisfaction too, in 2017 – the last four miles.

I suffered with stomach issues in the last hour of 2017 so, without going into too much detail, I wanted to retrace this final stretch and replace the previous memories with a positive mental images to draw on, come June 22nd this year.

So, in 2017, while running through the forested section of Cheesefoot Head, carefully avoiding the tree roots, two significant thoughts occurred to me. I’ve run 49 miles and, yes, I’ve run 49 miles. Ok, so I’ve repeated myself but its in a New York, New York kind of way.

Up until running RTTK my garmin had never shown me 40 miles covered and now it was on the verge of showing me 50. I knew my first sight of Winchester would be over the next hill and to be honest I got quite emotional.

When I say emotional I mean, pride, self fulfilment and the kind of raw excitement you simply don’t get unless you’ve really challenged yourself and come out on top.

However, this tidal wave of positivity was soon to be dampened by curious churnings in my stomach and lets not mince words here, farting. Yes folks, the kind of farting that has an unnerving “Indian Jones temple of doom” kind of vibe.

Moving on, I crossed the busy main road which was quite a revelation after hours running along peaceful solitary trails, across a pound field, along the edge of a tree line, through a short forested area and up a slight incline to then be rewarded with both my 50 mile alarm ringing and the sight of Winchester’s buildings in the distance.

90I’m not ashamed to say I shed a small tear and shouted out loud “come on Winchester lets have it” in my best Oasis/ Liam Gallagher ascent and I set about trying to minimise any unwanted stoppages with a run walk strategy.

Now, walking downhill in running terms is like drinking coke at a free bar, like fish and chips without salt and vinegar, all are quite simply unthinkable.

However, I had no choice and that’s why I wanted to return on my first day of specific training since entering RTTK so as to dispel those thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, expecting the unexpected is very much part of ultra running and I was 15 miles further into a race than I’ve ever been before but as Mr Sinatra says “That’s Life”.

The refreshing sight of sub eight minute miles this Sunday just gone won’t be repeated on June 22nd but I felt I’d laid the downhill walking to rest. The drop from the crest of the hill in this photo down to the road is probably 300 feet.

The short tarmac stretch of road then gives way to a South Downs signpost and a cunningly narrow entry to the next trail section. After eleven and a half hours you could be forgiven for running straight past this but having recced the route I knew exactly where I was going and it was covered in neon markers by RTTK.


Decision making is quite a feat after hours of endeavour, estimating the resources you’ll need is one thing, running out of brain power is something that just needs practicing I guess !! That said my wife might say I run out of brain power every Friday evening once I’ve finished work … ha ha !!

Hugging the hedge line with the roar of the motorway crossing growing ever louder meant I could dream of the Cathedral finish line and attempting to catch the train home.

Now, I must have passed a hundred signs in 52 miles but this was defiantly the most exciting. If the sign had been a person I’d have kissed it 🙂

100 Knowing there’s a downhill road into the city centre buoyed me both then and now, I can remember feeling the aches and pains disappearing and thinking maybe sub twelve hours was still on the cards but as soon as I got onto the flat it was if two bystanders had strapped weights to my thighs.

The aforementioned run/ walk policy took over again but I was so close I could hear the cheers from the other side of the huge flint wall that surrounds the Cathedral. In many ways we were pilgrims on a quest, a quest to gain some sort of inner strength that will stay with us forever.

Even now, a year and a half later I still draw on the experience and the willpower that was required.

As I rounded the final bend I was treated to this magnificent sight, the last one hundred metres (only with lots of flags, banners and people) today it was “race finish” free !!

pop The trees almost frame the cathedral as if it was in an art work and on a chilly January morning a shudder ran down my spine, was it the temperature or was it me revisiting the setting of easily my greatest running achievement to date.

I say “to date” because I’m determined to improve on my 12.06 time and enjoy my experience in twenty one weeks time.

I’ll be taking nutrition advice from Mark at APT Nutrition and I’ll be out on the trails knowing that my passion, focus, inner strength and belief are 100% aligned.

You learn a lot about yourself when you take on an ultra run but this blog isn’t about showing off its a celebration of finding out what you are made of physically and mentally.

I run off road and I bloody love it.

Sunday’s January run was straightforward and yet inspiring at the same time.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your running

P.S. On that June race day I walked to Winchester train station from the finish and missed the Portsmouth train by five minutes, I simply couldn’t conger up even a light jog. I remember thinking, “to hell with it” there’ll be another one in an hours time !!