Category Archives: Ultras

Nick wins Blind Veterans 100k London to Brighton challenge

 

It was third time lucky for Seaford Strider Nick Farley – who took first place in this year’s Blind Veterans 100k London to Brighton walking challenge.

Nick completed the walk in 18 hours 20 minutes and 50 seconds over July 7 and 8. He has more than doubled his initial sponsorship target to raise more than £725 so far for the charity, which supports servicemen and women with life after sight loss.

Nick’s winning walk comes after two previous attempts at completing the challenge. On his first attempt he got as far as 72k, completing the full distance second time around. For this year’s 100k – his first solo attempt at the distance – he set himself the challenge of achieving a personal best (PB).

The route takes participants through Wandsworth, Coulsdon, Caterham across the M25, down through East Grinstead to Scaynes Hill then Plumpton before heading over to Falmer, passing the American Express Stadium, then up and over the Downs to the finish at Blind Vets centre in Ovingdean.

Walkers must pass through seven checkpoints during the 100k challenge, which also provide them with foods, fluids, medication and bags of encouragement. Nick was also able to watch England v Sweden live at Checkpoint 3.

Nick said: “Over the course of the route I met some amazing people, partially sighted Blind Veterans members and guides who were simply inspiring to say the least. This drove me further to achieve what I had set out to do in support of the cause.”

The charity is a cause close to Nick’s heart: “It was Blind Veterans UK, formally St Dunstan’s which brought my Great Grandfather Joe Dellow and family including my nan down to Brighton in November 1948 when he became a member.”

Nick stayed motivated to complete the distance by keeping a close eye on his timings and benchmarking them against his second successful completion of the race.

He added: “I maintained my fluid intake, ate when I felt I needed as the heat really took away the hunger and constantly topped up the factor 50 sun cream, all of which kept me moving at an average pace of approximately 14:41 per mile. I felt strong throughout and was making great progress from checkpoint to checkpoint. I looked after my feet with regular sock changes, powder and tape as the blisters appeared, quite early on actually.”

Nick knew he was on the home stretch as he approached Checkpoint 7, with his wife and friends on hand to give their support.

“I was overcome with emotion as I crossed the line to get home first overall with a PB time of 18:20:50, having realised what I’d achieved on the journey I had undertaken in that last final 1k.”

  • To support Nick’s fundraising challenge for Blind Veterans UK visit his Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/Nick-Farley4

Race to the King: ‘The hardest thing I’ve ever done’

By David Ainsworth

David crosses the Race to the King finish with Becky

The Race to the King ultra-marathon from Arundel to Winchester was every bit as gruelling as I thought it would be. Luckily, the weather was incredibly kind to us, given the heatwave that had just occurred a few days prior to the event. Both me and my teammate Barnaby were feeling very strong after 10 miles and, to our surprise, we were actually enjoying the event. The seven pit stops along the way broke up the 53.5 miles nicely, and seeing the large ‘1 Mile to next Pit Stop’ sign was always met with huge sighs of relief.

Unfortunately, our partnership ended after the 15th mile; right before Buster Hill (an infamously steep ascent where the army train), Barney went over on his already sore ankle (from a recent rugby injury) and we had to stop for medical attention at the second pit stop. If I thought up until that point that I had landed myself in HBO’s Band of Brothers, my suspicions were only confirmed at that medical tent.

Several people had already injured themselves, with one woman wrapped in a foil blanket,
shaking, bleeding heavily from the arm and just generally freaking out. Fearing that Barney was going to have to pull out, and feeling unnerved by the state of my surroundings, we agreed I had to push on alone. I stupidly left all my provisions in our bag with Barney in an act of solidarity, and headed on to the halfway point. To my surprise, the fellow runners and walkers were incredibly pleasant to chat with, and thus I ended up making
several friends, many of whom would soon abandon me at base-camp as I was doing the event non-stop.

In spite of the fact that some of the hills could loosely be described as mountains, I was making short work of them. I replenished well at each stop, and had managed to contact Barney to find out that he had somehow made it past base-camp (24 miles) and was soldering on despite his ankle. I could not quite believe it, and promised to slow down and wait for him at the next stop.

Barney eventually managed to make it to 30 miles, just seven behind me, before he strained his knee and had to pull out for good. I was sad and tired, but I knew at least one of us had to finish. Problems for me only began to hit home after the 42nd mile, and whilst I was making good time (45 miles in just over 12 hours), it was around this point that I
strained my anterior tibialis. For those last 5-8 miles I was limping and it was getting dark, and with no head-torch (left in the bag with Barney), I knew I had to finish soon.

At the last pit stop (49 miles), I rested with coffee for 5-10 minutes and panic started to settle in. The importance of making friends, however, was soon confirmed when Becky, a nice lady I had met at base-camp, appeared out of nowhere. I was ordered to stick with her from a crew member as she had a torch, and given my present state, I was in no position to disagree.

Becky effectively carried me to the finish line with her partner Phil (who had thrown up three times on course due to bad salmon), and because she is a regular marathon
runner, she was more than capable of finishing the course comfortably with my crippled body in tow. My Band of Brothers analogy felt complete.

The Race to the King is without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done. Becky could not believe that I had only trained for two months, nor could she believe that I had abandoned my bag whilst everyone else was carrying hundreds of pounds worth of necessities. Were it not for her, I may not have made it, but equally, given that I was crying from pain, it would have been quite inhuman to leave me at the last pit stop.

In the end, the whole course took me 17 hours, and given that my goal was 20, and the fact I was injured for the last 10 miles, I feel a huge sense of relief and accomplishment. Overall though, I made it. And we raised over £650 for a charity very close to my heart.

I am currently resting up at home, praying that my leg is just strained and not torn, while Barney is out of action for a month with strained knee ligaments. I am very proud of
both of us. I have many people to thank, especially Pete, as I imagined him behind me the whole way shouting my name, but I would like to thank the Striders, because I would never have been able to complete something like this were it not for the regular community running. So, thank you. Hope to see you all again soon!

David took part in the Race to the King to raise funds for his best friend’s charity, Charlotte’s BAG (Battle Against Glioblastoma) in memory of his sister, Charlotte Eades, who
lost her battle with brain cancer last year. To find out more and to donate, visit David’s Justgiving page.

Michael takes on Iceland double marathon challenge 

Strider Michael Treacy is raising funds for the Seaford Down’s Syndrome and Special Needs Support Group – by running two marathons in two days in Iceland this August.

Taking in the Laugavegurinn Trail, the 74km course traverses mountains, icy rivers and volcanic wastelands – quite the challenge!

Michael is looking to raise £1,825 for the Seaford Down’s Syndrome and Special Needs Support Group, an organisation which provides regular activities such as swimming and music classes for children with Downs Syndrome.

“Downs Syndrome is a disability that has always been very close to my heart as two of my younger cousins have this condition,” he says.

“I want to raise money for this amazing charity that tirelessly provides hope and support for children with special needs.”

To find out more about Michael’s challenge and to donate see his Virgin Money Giving page.

David tackles ultra-marathon for Charlotte’s BAG

David is raising funds for Charlotte’s BAG

Strider David Ainsworth is taking on the 53-mile Race of the King Ultra Marathon this weekend to raise funds for his best friend’s charity, Charlotte’s BAG (Battle Against Glioblastoma).

Charlotte Eades, his best friend’s sister, lost her battle with Glioblastoma Multiforme, a rare brain cancer, early last year. Her charity, Charlotte’s BAG helps fund research into brain tumours and ultimately aims to eradicate this form of invariably fatal disease.

Alongside his friend Barnaby, David hopes to complete the ultra marathon route from Arundel to Winchester in under 20 hours.

If you’d like to help and make a donation, David’s JustGiving page has further details: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/CharlottesBAG

The pair have already raised more than £500 put it would be great to see that climb!

Best wishes to David and Barnaby from all at Seaford Striders!

Conquering the South Downs Way 50

By Joel Eaton

The South Downs Way 50 is organised by Centurion Running, who host a number of highly regarded ultra-distance races across the South East of England. Having been long enchanted with the idea of running ultras, far more than I have ever enjoyed actually running them, all I really wanted from this race was to enjoy a day out on the South Downs while getting in some serious training miles.

I arrived at the start in Worthing in good time for the kit check that precedes the race. These events require that you carry quite the haul of gear as when you’re out for long distances between aid stations, the weather can turn and issues can also arise from bad navigation or darkness.

Thankfully, there was barely a cloud in the sky all day and despite the mandatory waterproof and warm clothing, I could have done with remembering sun cream. Still, the race worked wonders for the tan.

The race begins with a long climb up to Cissbury Ring, then another climb to Chanctonbury Ring, before following the South Downs Way all the way to Eastbourne. After Chanctonbury, I knew the route had a long stretch of flat and downhill so I began to pick up the pace, and started to relax and enjoy the stunning views of the South Downs basking in the morning sun.

Ultra-races seem to generate a real sense of camaraderie between runners. There’s no elbow jabbing and little sense of the serious competition that you might find in a city 10k, and because you’re out there for so long, you naturally get chatting to people as you run with them.

11 miles in, at the first aid station, I started to worry that my legs were feeling too stiff already. This was temporarily forgotten as I gorged on the range of food on offer – one of the best things about ultra-races is the food at the aid stations: sandwiches, crisps, cakes, fruit, sausage rolls, cups of flat coke, and more. It’s like stopping at a kids’ party and there’s every possibility that I ate my entry fee’s worth in food thus breaking even – success!

Although my legs felt stiff, I didn’t feel tired and got into a consistent rhythm where I crept up through the field for the rest of the day. As the sun burnt my skin, it was a real treat to enjoy the picturesque half of the South Downs Way on such a stunning spring day.

After the last two big climbs, out of Alfriston and Jevington, the route dropped down into Eastbourne and finished with a lap around a running track, which I graced with an obligatory, but probably very slow, sprint finish.

With a complimentary cup of tea and hot dog at the end, I was elated. Surely, I’d no longer just broken even but I’d made a profit – try doing that at a city road race.

Joel finished 30th overall in a time of 8:22:56. (Apparently moving time was under 7:47 as Joel spent at least 35 minutes relaxing at the aid stations – eating mostly! Ed.)