L2B & New Forest Mara – Anna Finn

Anna Finn has been up to the usual (!)

20th September: What a lovely trail run. And as my brother pointed out, ‘London to Brighton’ is the sort of route most people can picture and know where it is and roughly how far (supposed to be 56 miles, I clocked 57.8 on the Garmin).

Actually, the first 9 miles were not trail – we went through the deserted Bromley shopping precinct and followed roads to the first checkpoint. After that there was a mixture of trail and country lanes. The paths were generally good and there were some beautiful sections through woods (probably my favourite running). There were, oh, about sixty seven million stiles on the course. Maybe I exaggerate? Seemed more than strictly necessary anyway.

I met several runners I know either at the start or en route which was great, as well as meeting new people. From a few miles in I ran with a runner called Helen and we stayed together right through to the finish. We actually ran most of it, with just a bit of walking up the hills (notably the big steep hill to get over the South Downs shortly before approaching Brighton). That should have meant a reasonable finishing time, but the map reading slowed us down a lot. We didn’t actually get very lost, but spent a lot of time standing around checking the map and trying to work out which of the vague tracks across the field ahead was the one we were supposed to follow. Even with the compass it was tricksy navigation.

I was looking forward to finishing on the beach in Brighton, until the reality of the pebbles confronted me on the very last weary hundred metres. It felt very good to get there though. Time? 12 hours, 36 minutes, 46 seconds.

Fast forward to this weekend: We rode down on the motorbikes straight after work on Friday and were drinking wine in the moonlight outside the tent by 8 o’clock (and saw a shooting star – cool!). On Saturday we took a stroll through the trees to Brockenhurst, where there are good cafes, shops and pubs. A leisurely day out in the sunshine. And the blackberries were ripe too. Nice.

On the Sunday morning I took the small wiggly roads to New Milton for the start of the New Forest Marathon. I met up with loads of runners I know and met still more that I didn’t. There was a vegan chap from Ireland who saw the vest. I forget his name, but he was going to look us up on the VRUK website. Maybe a new member on the way? It was a beautiful course, mainly on country lanes and a few bits of trail, through forest, open grassland and small villages. It was too hot for me and I think I was still a bit tired from last week’s run to the seaside, but finished fairly comfortably in 4:26:05.

Now I’m trying not to think too much about a longer run this weekend.

Longer than what? 😀