Saturday, 22 October 2011

Beachy Head Marathon - Quick Update


Just a quick update on today's Beachy Head marathon.  Since moving down to East Sussex in 2002 I have run the Beachy Head Marathon every year, so today was my tenth time.  My personal best for the course was set in 2007 with a time of 2:57, when I finished second to Tim Short, a fellow inov-8 athlete..  As the time of 2:57 indicates, the course isn't really flat.  My times for the last three years, all being winning times, have been 3:02, 3:03, 3:02.  So going into today's race, I was hoping to try to run quicker than last year, but a PB time wasn't really on the cards.

For the first time in ten years of running I had a real race on my hands.  At CP2 at BoPeep car park, shortly before half way, I was in third place, I guess around 45 seconds behind the leader.  It was then head wind pretty well from there all the way back to Eastbourne.  At around 17 miles, the leader from local club Lewes started fading and the three of us were for a few seconds running side by side.  The chap, Steve Nimmo from Orpington, but originally from South Africa didn't want to lead.  I also wasn't to keen to lead so, it was a bit of 'cat and mouse' with the occasional attack for the next 7 miles, as the chap from Lewes, (sorry I didn't get his name!) faded to eventually finish in sixth place.

Then at the 24 mile mark, Steve from South Africa, took off up the start of the last climb up to the top of Beachy Head.  He looked like he was doing a 5K.  He quickly gained around 30 - 40 seconds, and then we ran this distance apart to the finish.  I think his official time was 3:02:28, and mine being 3:02:58 was only 33 seconds slower than my 2010 time.

Overall a really enjoyable and exciting race.  A true race, with the pace fluctuating substantially over the last nine miles.  It would have been nice to clock up my eighth win, but it wasn't to be today.  I felt I ran well, but just didn't have that 'extra gear' when Steve attacked.  A great run by Steve Nimmo.  Hopefully he will be back next year, when I will be ready for him.  Maybe I might even go back to doing some rep work again in preparation!

So another great Beachy Head marathon.  Trail marathons really don't come any better.  A great atmosphere with around 1700 starters, a great course, a beautiful sunny day, and a superbly organised event.

Full race report to follow in a few days, although, quite a lot already highlighted above, as the quick update wasn't that quick!  However, the race report will include 'snippets' of my new 'Race Focus Energy' fatigue model, that was launched at the Beachy Head Marathon Science Symposium last night, which was a very successful evening.

Time to sign off, with a relevant quote from last night; "Performance is determined by an enjoyable interaction of the Body and Mind".

May your runs this weekend be as enjoyable as mine was today.



  1. Hi Stuart
    Well done for filing your report ahead even of the organisers posting the results. I can tell you that 'The Third Man' from Lewes AC is my neighbour Tom Morris. We often find ourselves discussing your blog when we're out running together, so do keep it coming. Today was my 3rd BH, and yet again the 'race focus energy' (as you call it) deserted me as I traversed the 7-Sisters. It does make me wonder why the course was chosen to be an anti-clockwise loop: surely we'd all enjoy that magnificent stretch much more if it was at the beginning, and I daresay our times would be better too. But yes, a great day today in the sunshine.
    PS We've been wondering whether your frequent use of the capitalised TOTAL implies an acronym. If not, I think you should retrospectively devise one!

  2. Beachy Head Marathon - Quick Thank-You

    Stuart, may I say that’s a very humbling write-up from a great athlete.

    It was a terrific day, albeit rather windy on the back half, for a run and I was honoured to have been able to make it a competitive and thoroughly enjoyable race for us both.

    Thankfully you did take the lead and direct me home (my navigational skills are very limited as you and Tom may have spotted at mile 16 when I shot off in the wrong way and as you did notice when you saw me drifting in the wrong direction at about mile 24)

    For me personally, as it was my first off-road marathon, I found the race very demanding on my legs and feet and by mile 20 was beginning to cramp. Fortunately you were ahead and unable to see me battling and performing some penguin running techniques ;-) The Seven Sisters (very kindly named and I shall not expand on my interpretation of those sisters) were very tough and my aim was to just stick by you, however always knowing in the back of my mind you had a strong finish – which you mentioned on your blog of last years run ;-) Hence the tactic of trying to pull away on a hill nearing the end, although very difficult and you may have spotted me even walking at the top of that – fortunately I had that 200m lead which I was able to keep till the end.

    Many thanks again and at this stage, I can’t see me returning to defend the title … I’m in agony ;-)

    Steven Nimmo
    Orpington Road Runners

  3. Congrats on another great run Stu. Sounds as though it was a great race.

    Interesting to read Steven's comments as well.

  4. Well done both of you - fascinating & enjoyable reading to an undertrained plodder finishing a couple of hours behind you guys.....awesome - the thought of racing up Beachy Head makes me shiver, it's as much as I can do to walk up at the end of this event.

  5. Hi Steve, Steven, John, Darren

    Thanks for your comments.

    With regards to the direction of the Beachy Head Marathon course, I think having the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head towards the end, is one aspect that makes the race so good. It adds that little bit more of a challenge, and the most awesome views, just when you are needing that extra boost of positivity! My TOTAL in relation to TOTAL training is just total not any acronym but maybe I could create one.

    Steven, thanks for the great race. Pleased to hear that you are suffering a bit following the run. The way you powered away from me gave the impression you were cruising. An impressive time considering it was your first trail marathon. The Beachy Head Marathon has been going for 10 years, following 21 years of the Seven Sisters Marathon. I have run all of the 10 Beachy Head Marathons so have all of the results, and your finish time of 3:02 puts you the fourth fastest finisher during these last ten years. Only Tim Short England International runner, Matt Giles, England International runner, and myself, GB International runner have ran the course faster. So yes indeed, yours is a very impressive time.

    Yes, racing up Beachy Head this year was quite a unique experience Darren. Something that I had not prepared for. Although in previous races I have ran up the last climb at the same pace as on Saturday, but the quick pace I previously ran up at was totally my choice as I have always been on my own either clearly leading or clearly in 2nd place with noone near me. Last Saturday, the fact that I had to go hard up the hill to try to stay in contact with Steven really amazed me just how much more demanding it felt, due to it not being my decision, it wasn't my choice. I am hoping to expand upon this within my race review, as this experience directly relates to my Race Focus Energy Fatigue Model.


  6. Hi guys

    Sounds like it was a great race. Well done.

    I am heading for the Beachy Head Marathon for this year. It will be a first time trail marathon for me. Just had a look at the results and just curious to know what sort of times you are guys running at for a road marathon so I can get a feel for the difference in road/trail pace.