Written by Phil Amos - http://outforabimble.blogspot.fr

So I haven't posted much on here since I started it.. best intentions seem to get derailed by everyday life, and spending time with the family took a bit of a priority, especially as I'd signed myself up to a few little races this year.

Bit of a back story
I always fancied having a go at the NDW100 since I started this running malarky. Alan, the man responsible for getting me into this running thing, had mentioned fairly close to the start of my running journey how there was a group called Centurion running, who organised 50 and 100 mile races, and that he had met the fabled Nici, face of Centurion at Rat Race Dirty weekend. At the time I couldn't even begin to contemplate that sort of distance.. hell I struggled to run down and back to the local reserve from home.
So this idea of running Ultra's as I soon found out they were called seemed like an incredible feat, yet the idea of running the length of the North Down's Way managed to get lodged in my head.. especially after doing a few loops of the Darnley trail, and then finding Ranscombe Farm.
Once I got over my first year of running, I started looking for something a little less road based and a lot more trail based. I enjoy running in the woods and fields and trackways.. there's so much more to see.
I happened across Saxon, Viking & Norman running, a group who organise all sorts of marathons and timed races very local to me whilst looking for something to do to test myself, as I was quite peeved at how I'd done in the Royal Parks Half. I ended up signing myself up for the Ranscombe Spring Challenge while sitting next to my wife in hospital, during a quiet moment in her labour. Unwittingly I booked the Sunday, as I knew we had an NCT catch up on the Saturday, without realising it was going to be our first Mother's day. Bad Daddy! Anyway, I had a great day, only running for 6 hours out of the 8 available as I'd promised I'd get home so I could spend at least some of our first ever Mother's day with my wife and daughter, but it also ended up being my first ultra at 30.4 miles and just under 6 hours.
I ended up signing up for a few more.. it's a nice hilly course, roughly 100 ft elevation climb per mile ran.. once averaged out and local.. so low impact on the family.
I got chatting to Traviss a little bit after finishing Summer event, which I went into thinking I'm aiming for 50 miles so I can use it as qualification for the NDW100 with Centurion. I managed a double Marathon in 10hrs 37, and that would have been enough to qualify me for the race I had always wanted to do. However Traviss suggested that actually the SDW100 would be a much better starting race for an introduction to 100 mile running, and as he'd done rather a lot of them himself all over the world, I took his advice. He also said that if I wanted to do the SDW100, I'd be very sensible to try and do the SDW50 first as it covers the last half of the race, which is likely to be run in the dark.

I went home and signed up that evening for the SDW50.
I think shortly afterwards they announced that they were going to be running their first ever 50 mile grand slam, and the little collector inside me said.. oooooh I want some of that. So I then started watching for the dates to be announced.. and subsequently found myself signed up for the NDW50 (well NDW100 was the overall plan anyway.. wouldn't hurt now would it getting a bit of practise in) and then the Chiltern Wonderland and Wendover Woods. Oh and at some point I must have suffered some sort of mental breakdown as I went and signed myself up for the SDW100 and the NDW100 for this year too. Oh dear. I'm now running the same number of miles as the 100 grandslam, but due to the extra hilliness of some of the 50's I'm going to be covering a lot more elevation (47,800ft rather than the 28,340ft for doing the 100gs)

So.. that kind of brings us to the start of this year.. Alan had also signed himself up for the NDW50 (probably about 5 minutes after I did looking at our race numbers) so I had a training partner! We started doing recce's from Farnham, heading East along the NDW.. started off with half marathonish kind of distances (both of us have babies) and also dragged him along to the Winter Ranscombe Challenge in January where he knocked out his first ultra :)

I also upped my weekly mileage.. fitting it in mainly on Monday nights running back to my Mum's from various stations along the way and eventually all the way from work. I also wanted to get out and do the last half of the SDW50 before the actual event to give me a bit of confidence on the day.. which I managed to do on a nice Sunny Sunday in March.. a month ago today in fact.

Back story done.. onto this past weekend!


So plan was to drop Maz and Sadie off at my Mum's on Friday night, on my way down to Worthing so they could drive up Saturday afternoon and see me finish. Scuppered before it even started! Maz had a migraine so went straight to bed, and I had to sort Sadie out, get her changed and settled then head off on my lonesome to my single bed overlooking the sea.

Had a good trip down, parked on the seafront and headed upstairs with all my kit around 10.30pm... got everything laid out (took about an hour once I got all my bottles filled and everything double checked) then hit the sack at about midnight. Saturday morning came.. alarm went off at normal work time and I was up.. made use of the facilities, had some tea and a berrocca, made use of the facilities, had some porridge, made use of the facilities had a shower.. got dressed, made use of the facilities.. normal race day pretty much. Packed everything away, drop bag checked, race pack checked, everything else in a carrier, then went and checked out and headed to registration.

I'd done a quick drive by the night before on the way to the hotel so knew where I was going.. and was directed to the end car park. There was a light drizzle falling, so had my spare jacket on which would end up in the finish line bag. Into the registration hall and there was a buzz of chat and a throng of people.. over to the kit check table and all they wanted to see was that the main torch was working and I had a warm long sleeve top.. through me a bit as I was expecting to get everything out. Promptly shone my torch right in the guys eyes.. I was a tad flustered, and come to think of it I'm not even sure if I apologised! I think it was at this point I started thinking I had packed too much.. but never mind.. on with the day. Away from the kit check desk I just dumped stuff on the floor and repacked my bag.. panicking because I thought I'd lost my kit check token already, then realising I'd put it under my foot so I didn't. Next onto the registration queue.. alphabetically organised.. easy.. surname A.. first line.. and there I was.. oh yeah, I changed my on the day mobile number as my usual phone was too big.. no not the emergency contact.. oh.. ah well.. I think next time I'll just put my usual sim in my little mobile.. caused far too much confusion and lines through numbers that should have stayed etc.

Now time to put finish line bag in the back of the van, have another a quick trip to the facilities, fill up my 2 smaller water bottles for my shorts with filtered, chilled water.. and try and relax. Found a spot in a locked doorway and just sat there for half an hour or so.. until I sensed a gradual movement towards the exit.

Rain had stopped and we headed over towards the starting field. A few words from James, including that we would have a nice following wind pushing us all the way to Eastbourne, and the countdown was on.. Fenix 3 was poised and ready to go (awesome bit of kit btw.. just my two pennies-worth) and the hooter went.. start.. and away we went.. slow to start off with.. narrow gate to get through then onto a road, then up some hills.. more and more hills.. some narrow with lots of people bunched together.. but gradually widening the closer we got to the SDW itself. I started to find myself in the middle of a bit of a group.. which was spread out in front and behind me.. seeing the same faces, rather than a sea of faces.. I just settled into my stride.. from the beginning I'd decided I was walking the hills running the downs, and as much of the flats as I could.. just had to get my pacing right, and the gradient in my head that I would decide constituted a hill.. first aid station felt like it was the longest trek, and by the time I got there I was starving.. I managed to pick up a single jelly baby, a cookie, and some coke.. that was it. Ah well.. that's what gels are for lol. Was a bit confused as I knew I had to get my number taken at each aid station but couldn't see anyone who was writing it down.. had to ask a friendly guy in a Centurion T-shirt, who pointed me up the road slightly at the guys on the road crossing.. ah ha!

Crossed the road, walked up the hill and off running again, and that was pretty much the order of the day.. got to 25 miles in 4 hours 50.. so that gave me a good boost. I covered the first half quicker than I'd done the second half on the recce run... so was still on track for my 10 hour self imposed target. (I'd told my parents and Maz I was hoping to be at the finish for 7.. and didn't want to keep Sadie awake too long)

Aid stations came and went, and I gradually got more efficient getting through the,.. the trick is to trust the guys filling up the flasks while you get your grub.. second to last aid station at Alfriston and only 9 ish miles to go.. 4.5 to the next aid station. I decided I would make sure I filled my empty flasks with enough to get me to the finish, as I had about an hour and a half til the 10 hour point. Had a bit of a laugh when the volunteer said only 20 minutes to Jevington.. 4.5 miles in 20 minutes.. I think not! Clocked the hot drinks on the way out.. doh.. probably for the best though.. save the cuppa to the end, and off I went.. had done this bit on the recce so out and over the bridge and left was alreeady keyed in my head.. the bridge is one of the key navigation points for the course, as SDW foot path goes right and down towards Beachy head apparently.. we need to go left.

As seems to be the norm by this point, out of the aid station and we find a hill.. this is a pretty big never ending one.. and I get chatting to a guy who seems to be motoring up the hill about the same sort of pace as me, had dropped Maz a text on the way out of the aid station and she had told me she was having fish and chip dinner... so that slipped it's way into the discussion. He managed to get a bit of distance on me by the time we came down into Jevington, and think I saw him last on the route a good way in front of me.. or so it seemed, on the last hill up to the trig point. I skipped going into the aid station at Jevington as I had my eyes firmly set on a faster than 10 hours time at this point.. I knew it was going to be close, and didn't feel I needed the extra couple of minutes for items I probably wasn't going to use.

I also didn't remember just how long that last hill was until I'd given up ever seeing the top.. but I finally got there and thanked the guys in the tent who were manning the trig point.. Managed to spot the sports-ground and running track finish line this time round (as opposed to on my recce, where I picked the wrong path and couldn't see jack) as I started down the very narrow, steep chalk path down from the top and then I got a weird cramp start up in my shins.. slow down to a walk again and wait for it to fade out.. all the time verbally abusing my legs and telling them it's all down hill from here.. eventually the feeling of it wanting to cramp went and I managed to get a bit more speed up again. I do love running down hills.. even on very narrow technical paths.. I would not have wanted to be doing that sort of speed by torchlight though.., so glad it was still before dark. Got down into the streets of Eastbourne and over took a guy along Royal Parade (or something like that) I was properly running now.. which was a bit of a mistake.. as I got to just opposite the pub/beefeater thing by the hospital and felt my thigh start to cramp. Slowed right down to a walk to try and walk it off.. but foolishly let the adrenaline of 2 guys cheering me on to it's just round the corner spur me on to a run.. for about 15 yards.. before my first proper full on cramp hit. Doh! Walked it off cursing my stupidity, and got running again ASAP.. by the time I'd crossed the last road and rounded the corner I was moving again.. and the cramp was easing.. running along towards the stadium entrance I could see someone standing in the path who looked familiar.. had a bit of a teary eye when I realised it was my Dad come out to see me.. especially when he started jogging alongside me.. I haven't seen him run in years! Up to the final corner and I could see the stadium.. he told me to go on so off I went.. saw my Mum and Maz and Sadie as I entered the stadium and heard them cheering me pretty much the whole way round the lap of the track.. as I came towards the finish line I could see Sadie toddling about so I made a beeline for her, with mum shouting at me.. .you've go to finish, I picked Sadie up and carried her across the line and then gave her a big cuddle.

Was an awesome moment.. both Mum and Maz were crying, Sadie was happy to see me.. and I had a medal from Mimi Anderson.. race done in 9 hours 58 minutes.. sooooo fricking happy with my time :)

Few photos taken that I don't even remember being taken, and then T shirt and finish line bag were with me.. and it was into the hall for Hot dog and tea!

Awesome day, awesome event.. role on NDW50 in 5 weeks time!

Thank you too everyone who volunteered, and the organisers.. I still didn't really get to say hi to Nici.. will have to make sure I actually catch her when she's not in the middle of something for the NDW and say hello!