This race is a tough 21 or so mile jaunt up and down hills on the South Downs centering on the Meon Valley not too far from Portsmouth.
With it being just 20 miles from my gaff, and the opportunity for a good training run not too far from the location of the Steyning Stinger that I am running in a few weeks it would have been churlish to decline the offer.
It is quite a low-key affair with a deliberately small field run by local running club ‘Portsmouth Joggers’ and because of it operating within its limitations of numbers it is never advertised and fills-up on word of mouth almost as soon as it is announced.
I drove down to the event base of the village hall early in the morning and gathered my thoughts and senses over my granola and coffee whilst we were all safety briefed on the route. Standing in the hall as we were briefed, looking around there were plenty of Portsmouth Marathon shirts and buffs to be spotted, along with loads of ‘Brutal’ ones as well so it seems the entry crowd is drawn from the same local events that I run as well.
|Briefing... With a band to entertain before and after!|
|The bemused sheep as we invaded their space and the cloud-line.|
|Crossing the plateau.|
|A welcome downhill track, even if a bit slippery!|
|Plenty of rolling countryside to be seen!|
|A cheery Claire marshaling away.|
|Which way now?|
|The start of the muddy fun!|
|One of the final views before descending.|
Claire was waiting for me at the finish with her marshaling duties long since over so it was good to have a chat over a cuppa as I managed to wash the worst of the mud off of my legs.
Having been blocked-in by double parking I had to wait a while for other runners to clear-off before I could make my escape but a short drive home and I was ready to get the rest of the mud off me in a very welcome warm shower and warm-up for the evening.
This run I suppose was about as close as the south can offer to a ‘fell race’ and the atmosphere was very convivial. With its low-key nature and promotion only through word-of-mouth amongst local runners, most of the entrants already knew each other from their various clubs so it was quite cliquey in that regard, but everyone was still very friendly and willing to chat along the route between gasps for breath.
Lastly, I must say a big thanks for Neil in passing his entry on to me for this as it was a great training run ready for Steyning in a few weeks. I definitely owe him a beer or two if I get a chance to buy him one up in the Lake District later this year!