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Race Report: South Downs Half

A beautiful day in Hampshire.
As for everyone else running around the country it was hot and muggy. Which would make this even more extreme! We had been warned to expect a hill climb or two. But did not appreciate how brutal this course would be. Starting off across a flat field the speedies took flight. I kept my usual gentle pace to get settled, hoping I could keep going and not be walking too soon. The second quarter mile and a short hill starts to thin out the pack. Into the woods and a narrow path sorts out the stags from the Bambie’s. It was too much, I as a Bambi, need a little walk.

Race Report: South Downs Half

17 June 2023

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Several times I heard the saying, “save your energy you have to get through mile 6- 7”. Ooo me thinks, this is not going to be smooth going. A pleasing but undulating trail ahead that also offered a little bit of shade. Just when you think you'll get a good pace going, we were directed up the next climb. Instantly everyone is walking. Finally at the top, the trail opens up to open fields and an opportunity for some decent running. Gradually I passed a few people and felt a little more at ease with my pace. Back to more hard rutty trails and then our first downhill. Inevitably picking up the pace and discovering I had no brakes; I narrowly miss taking out a chap and then a lady with her dog; knowing at any point I could break an ankle on the uneven, rocky ground. Wahoo, I’ve passed a Cannie cross who started 10 mins before me..
The relief of the downhill soon ended onto a road which, in the open heat sapped your energy. A water station ahead, time to refill the now empty flask. Revived by some lovely lemon fizz it was off across a railway bridge and on through some overgrown trail which eventually opened wide to a forestry area, the ground being a treacherous, hard furrow of dried mud. This was a slight distraction of what was around the next bend. The ascent at this point was soul (and sole) destroying. The relentless rise of elevation convinced me this would reach the highest point, so surely there was only the downs left to enjoy........again this was not so.
Having achieved the halfway point and into the shady woods we go. Every slope down relieved the aching legs. Only to be consumed by the next climb, gravel and dust everywhere, I marched on up the next Everest climb. A marshal clapped us on with the comforting, “its only undulating from now on”, straight away I knew they were joking as the verticals appeared immediately in front of us. The route being a big loop, I eventual joined noticeable terrain, a final push towards the finish along a flattish road. However, we were then directed back into the woods from whence we came. I’m sure the beginning was uphill; how can I be going back uphill again? Only a short stretch but now knowing it is downhill and flat (ish) for the last mile, the end is nigh, YES! Just a duck under the road bridge and across the field but the long grass sucked your feet to the ground and sapped any remaining fragments of energy from your limbs. The crowd was now engaged willing you on. Crossing the line and having your reward thrust into your paws, the endurance is over. Time now to reflect on the morning’s achievements over a lush ice cream and looking forward to that cider and steak in the evening.
I rename this race “The South Ups Half Marathon”. I really enjoyed this run…. Lol

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