Monday, 28 November 2011

Gatliff Marathon - Race Report (2011)

This run was on George and my "Runs to do list" for the year and this year was our third outing to Edenbridge to take part in it. Ever since we were entered the Brecon Beacons 40 mile ultra next week I was unsure if I should do it but after a lot of discussion we both agreed to do it as a double ultra but take it carefully so as not to tire ourselves out too much.

Arriving at the Edenbridge sports social club at 7.00am I was amused to hear George say "Good lord, look at that, the same old faces" and as we entered we were greeted with waves and hellos....oh dear we are "the same old faces!"

So at 7.45 am we left the club house with Rob and our newly found ultra buddy Barry who was soon coined Bazza for the remainder of the race. We were soon directed off road and I was pleased to find that we had joined our old friend "The Vanguard Way" a route George and I have been on many a time but it was really pleasing to see that it was the route of the now infamous London to Brighton that we first ran along 3 years ago with our good friend Michael. The run was soon to stop after about 15 of us were seen wandering around aimlessly scratching our heads at the first of many a vague direction from the instructions. Back on track we continued on to the first checkpoint for orange cordial and biscuits. The others had chosen to wear waterproofs but I had gone for just a long and short sleeved shirts which was more than suitable as there was only light rain for about an hour which soon cleared to a bright and clear day.

The merry band of four continued on in good humour, Bazza probably taken aback by the amount of noise that Rob and I were making as we teased each other remorselessly about our drunken exploits, Rob and his [alleged] use of trekking poles recently.

It was obvious from recent years that this course was very different from the last two and was definitely a hillier route and what with the late autumnal leaf drop covering tree roots and the fresh rain fall made the course very tough going in places especially over ploughed fields that made our shoes weigh about 10 pounds.

The course gets tougher
Passing the 10 mile mark we were met by our next ambiguous direction which had us going backwards and forwards trying to find the right route wasting a good 15 minutes adding an extra mile. After a good bit of team work we started off again and what I found so brilliant was that nobody cared a jot as we took on the next part of the course and to stop off for drinks at the next check point. 

Now entering the middle section of the race we also entered the hilliest part and I was soon recognising the route and was astounded when we started to ascend the North Downs Way and then cover the very same route, Brian George and I ran last week this time in the opposite direction but providing us with new found confidence as we knew this section well, ascending the North Downs scarp at Titsey Hill was one tough thing to do 21 miles into a run but to do the descent was hair raising stuff as 8 of us pegged down it, tripping and stumbling over the roots and arriving at the next check point for more cold drinks and biscuits.

The last section
Now entering the last part of the run we were soon beginning to curse the route designer for not just their tardy route description but now making us run up and down Chartwell and Crockham Hills not once but twice! It was obvious at this point Rob was on fire and wanted to pace off which we happy for him to do so Bazza and he took the lead with George and I pulling off the pace to a steady ticking over to get us through the next few miles unscathed

Back at the club house
Back at the start we were met with a pile of food fit for Kings and Queens, hot sausages in buns, cake, soup and enough coffee & tea to sink a battle ship. So after getting some dry clothes on we were soon seen stuffing our faces and joining in the banter with the other runners

In all 34.8 miles with 3,825 feet of climb (Checked against OS data) in tough underfoot conditions....brilliant day with some fantastic people


  1. The likelihood of me having trekking poles is akin to the likelihood of you turning up to your next ultra in Kazakhstan's national flag as running shorts.

    Great fun....I have just remembered the 20 minute stop off at Woldingham Sauna too

  2. Hi Jerry, still running ultras, I see. I've done a few recently, mainly LDWA events, but also the Lyke Wake Race last year. Great report on Gatliff that was my slowest ever, mainly because the route was so complicated and difficult to run rather than walk.

  3. Hi Hugh, I thought it was just me but it was a toughy wasn't it with some evil little twists and turns. Still one of my favourite events though.

  4. Ooer... I think I'd better ask to do the 12.5 mile as this will be my first self-navigated run - apart from the Fairlands Challenge... !

    1. Teri, you will be fine, there are plenty of people to tag onto and people willing to help. If I am still wanted on the Winter 100 I won't be there this year but it is a tough run/walk but well worth it.