London to Brighton – 100km
This weekend I volunteered to run as a support runner for the London to Brighton 100k challenge! It was amazing; beautiful scenery, gorgeous weather and lots of lovely friendly runners.
My stretch was from the first rest stop (at 12km) through to the third rest stop (at 39k) – 27k or about 16.7 miles. Nowhere near the full length of the course but (a) it’s further than I’ve ever run in my entire life and (b) it was cross country. I’ve never run cross country. Ever. Two firsts then!
I was up at 5am on Saturday to get down to the course on time. I woke up to find my boyfriend at the table devouring some drunk munchies having just got in from a night out – culture clash! I’d only had about 4 hours sleep (you know when you’re nervous about not waking up on time? Yeah that. Cruel) but was feeling surprisingly fresh. I did have to get the nightbus though and my train was FULL of drunk people looking particularly worse for wear…
There were 1500 people registered for the challenge. Only 250 of them were registered as ‘runners’, which means they are expecting to finish the challenge within 18 hours. EIGHTEEN HOURS IS A REALLY LONG TIME TO BE RUNNING. The first runners started at 6am and came through the 12km checkpoint at around 6:45 looking fresh – amazing! One guy came through carrying just a bottle of lucozade (optimistic) whereas most were fully kitted out with Camelbaks, gel-belts and waterproof compression super tights. The first lady came through at around 7am looking amazing and I told her how awesome I thought she was.
I waited until about 200 of the runners had come through and then started running. The sun was shining but there was a cold breeze – perfect! The route is signed with pink arrows and ribbons and you are given an amazing map fully marked with the route, hazards and rest stops – the course was brilliantly organised and I would love to enter a team next year (if you fancy it, holla!).
I passed these three girls (very cheerful!) and a few walkers, stopping and checking they were OK and having a bit of a chat before moving on. In Nonsuch Park we came head to head with a Parkrun – said Parkrunners looked rather confused to have rucksack laden challengers running head to head with them at 9am!
At Nonsuch Park I came across two guys called Simon and Dave, both of whom were sporting HUGE afro wigs. They explained that they were planning on running the whole thing (aiming for a 15 minute/mile throughout) and that they were aiming for 16-18 hours. Looooooong. I explained that I was a support runner and they invited me to join them. I ended up running with them until the end of my ‘shift’ and had a really great time. Dave suffered with two poorly knees and a bad hip and took a bad tumble over a tree root resulting in what looked like a couple of broken ribs. Ouch. He stopped to walk and told Si and I to continue.
I ran the last 10k or so with Si alone and he explained that he was running for Cancer Research in memory of his late father-in-law. The 100k challenge is part of his larger challenge to run 2012 miles in 2012 – over 40 miles a week! His dedication to the challenge was inspiring and I was really touched about the way he spoke about his father-in-law. I even met his wife and daughter when they met him at the 40k checkpoint! He got in touch today to say that he finished in 22 hours and thanked me for my support. Knowing that my efforts as a support runner were helpful feels great and I’m really proud to have played a small part in his challenge.
I really enjoyed the run and have a lot of respect for everyone who completed (or attempted!) the challenge – my 30k was hard enough! That said, I would love to enter it next year. It’s a great fundraising opportunity (all participants have to raise at least £375 for their nominated charity) and really well organised. It sounds like everyone at ActionChallenge worked ridiculously hard to make the event work and I thought it was brilliant – very well signed, well manned rest stops and plenty of food and drink supplied.
You can find out more about ActionChallenge on their website here!
Would you ever attempt a challenge like this?