A ruddy big hill

Whenever I’m away somewhere I always like to fit in a run.

Not only is it a new location on my running ‘map’, but it provides a welcome change from the same old same old and, I find, is a great way to explore the area on foot.

And so it proved with this run along the Eastbourne seafront out to Beachy Head.

I was over visiting my daughter and, try as I might, I couldn’t convince her of the benefits of a 6am run!

So out I went on my own. A really lovely morning, the rain that had been forecast didn’t materialise, the rising sun was reflecting beautifully off the English Channel … I started my run at the Redoubt Fortress heading in the direction of the pier with my ultimate destination shrouded in grey away in the distance.

It does make you appreciate and respect just how far you do run when something you know to be 2.5 miles away seems so far off.

Being a tourist and living nowhere near the coast I stopped every few minutes along the seafront to take a quick picture. Hey, I’m an old romantic at heart and I appreciate a good bit of scenery when I see it.

Plus, I knew a much tougher challenge lay in wait at the turning point of my run, the start of the Beachy Head Marathon.

Now, I know I came last in my most recent trail race but there is something about Beachy Head that calls out to me so I just had to see for myself.

I should stress at this point that I’m very aware for what Beachy Head is more well known for, that wasn’t my intention but maybe, having had struggles of my own, I have a certain empathy with what happens there. Who knows?

But, for this run, the draw was to see for myself the start of the marathon. I’d seen videos and it looked horrendous. Surely it wouldn’t be as bad in real life.

My first challenge was just to get up to the start in the first place. I had run along the seafront as far as the path would take me. With it being sea level, I had a wee climb ahead of me to get Duke’s Prep School from which the race started.

I say ‘wee climb’ but it was every bit as steep as Princes Street at home, only twice as long and with a couple of nasty little kicks along the way.

That successfully negotiated at a gentle pace – no sprinting this time – the beast that is the start of the marathon lay in wait.

Gulp.

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I reckoned the hill was at a 45 degree angle, a challenge made all the more tricky given it’s on grass.

Undeterred I knew I had to have a go at it. Only that first hill, mind, not any further. If I couldn’t get past the start there’d be no point entering the race in the future.

It. Was. Difficult. But, somehow, I managed it much to my surprise and delight. It was muddy and slippy but I knuckled down and got to the top.

What goes up and all that … the descent was much more of a challenge. Looking from the top down it seemed so much steeper, the people at the bottom looked tiny and it appeared as if the entire south coast was laid out in front of me.

Yet, I knew I had to do it. I had no choice.

Being slippy going up is one thing, going back down was a wholly different proposition.

I had to choose my footing so so carefully, not only to avoid landing on my arse and sliding all the way to the bottom but, being honest, to not look like a Grade A pillock to those people gathered at the bottom whom I had convinced myself had appeared from nowhere having spotted me and were looking some early morning entertainment at my expense.

“Why do I get myself into these positions?”

I don’t know how I did it but I managed to reach the bottom my pride intact. Maybe not my dignity, though, because there were a few close calls!

Feeling a wee bit smug I then coasted the rest of the way back to my B&B, grateful to have tarmac below my feet instead of grass and mud.

Having taken a look at it will I now enter the race? Maybe the 10k version, at least the first time. Despite the obvious difficulties the event presents it remains an itch I’ll have to scratch one day.

Relive my run

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