Elly said : In early July, Phil and I were looking for an autumn marathon. We were looking at a marathon that was easy to get to and avoid too many extra days off work.
Phil suggested Beachy Head – it was reasonably priced (£32.00) and the race took place on a Saturday so no need for Monday off work. Easy to fly to Gatwick from Edinburgh and get the train to Eastbourne. We had hoped to register on the Friday night, however due to delays in getting to Eastbourne, we left registration to the Saturday morning.
We walked to the registration, which all went smoothly, picked up our numbers and timing chips and then headed to the school to leave our bags. Some people said after there were not enough toilets, however we found some near the start that had very little queues.
The race has runners and walkers taking part, with a cut of time of 5pm.
The race started and within the first few yards you hit your first hill. I fast walked it where I could. It was hard to find the path and there were a lot of people trying to get up. Phil ran it! Once at the top the views opened up and so did the field. The day was bright and there was a warm southerly breeze (I had kept my jacket with me in case it was cold on the hills – the wind was warm!) So my new running jacket stayed tied round my waist for the whole race!
There are a few road crossings on the route, some where you have to stop for the traffic and some where the traffic is stopped for you, however, these are near the start. The field started to thin out, but I never felt that I was on my own at all. At the first checkpoint there were cups of water, chopped mars bars and biscuits. The first up was straight after this, it was a small lane with only single file so you had to do what the people in front were doing – walk.
The route carried on with lots of ups and downs but on the majority of the ups, most people were walking – ideal! There were a few areas where it was very breezy and whilst running down hill (think I am finally managing to do this without losing control!) I was also being blown down the hill, and there were a few times on the top of the hills, you were battling against the wind to keep going. About a 1/3 of the way round you are high up and can see the runners on the other side of the hill, which also meant when I was at the other side I could see there were still plenty of people behind me.
We came through a village with everyone out supporting and then at the village hall there was tea, coffee and soup along with sausage rolls and hot cross buns -a veritable feast (and a portaloo!). So after a refuel and toilet stop, it was up the next hill.
We then reached the seven sisters – I had heard of the area but not seen it. Long slow undulations. Having spoken to someone at the start of the race, they had completed the race when there was fog and said it was a bit unnerving as to how close to the edge of the cliffs you are. I walked up and ran down the seven sisters – although Phil thinks there were more than seven, I was just enjoying the views and didn’t count them. You needed to watch out for rabbit burrows as you hurtled your way down the hills! At the top of the final sister there was a rescue vehicle with a tank full of water to feed the thirst.
Murdo had mentioned to me a few weeks prior to the race that during the war, they had used the seven sisters for tank practice but the hills were too steep (thankfully he was just joking!)
We carried on – not long now to the finish I hoped. Only a few more kilometres. It took me to 40km to realise there were markers on the route! Just after this I could hear the infamous cow bell from Berlin – Phil had finished and come out to cheer me on. I threw my jacket at him and headed for the finish. However the sharp climb we had at the start, we now had to descend – it was steep – they even had a marshall half way down to try and catch anyone going head over heels! The finish gantry was in sight and I still had some energy to run to the finish. Medal, water, banana and sample recovery drink were supplied and I waited for Phil to come and find me. We headed down to the baggage area where Phil tried to sort me out with clothes and food, book me in for a massage and generally looked after me – thanks Phil.
With your registration you get a voucher for food in the school so while I waited for my massage, Phil went and queued for our school dinner. Baked tattie with beans and sausage with rice pudding and fruit for afters along with tea or coffee.
My watch is set to auto pause – it showed 5.06! So if I hadn’t stopped for lunch and toilet stop and to take in the views on a bench on the seven sisters, I would have had an even better time, however just taking part in such a very well organised friendly marathon which was good value for money was enough for me.
So overall there were a few ups and downs, trail route with some steps included but very friendly, reasonable price and very scenic (although think we were lucky with the weather – the storms hit the south coast on the Sunday night/Monday morning!) The race is organised by the council and this year they also introduced a 10km which started at 9.30. You can also walk the route, but they have a time limit of 8hrs.