Coming in quick succession the Run to the Sea Brighton was barely a week after London 2 Brighton and for me, at least, completed the Ultraviolet Running slam of races, having completed both the Round Reading Ultra (with Lew) between Lockdown 1 and 2, and Run to the Sea Bournemouth (with Keith) a couple of months later.
It was to be a fun one, the first race weekend since Beachy where we got to stay in hotels and have a proper go at drinking and eating out, whilst also running something or other and joining me for the weekend would be the Chuckle Brothers of running Baz Tav and Lew.
A Proper Weekend
It all started in Horsham, with this being yet another point to point race, with the day being a mixed bag or hot, cold, wet and dry as Lew and I checked into the Springfields hotel before enjoying multiple pints and a superb steak at an Argentine steak house in town, and then more pints.
Neither of us slept well at all, the rooms were newly refurbished but they were swelteringly hot and I didn’t discover the fan until the morning, when it was all too late, and we made our way, bleary eyed, to the start of the race at what was supposed to be a local school. It was not a local school. Local to be in a 20 minute walk (max!). This was a 15-20 minute drive, down country lanes, with no paths. I am so glad I asked for a taxi number the night before and booked it.
When we got there, with Lew in the 7.40 start and me 8.02, we were pleased to discover that they had pretty much binned that idea, and people could head out as soon as they had dropped they bag and pinned their number. This was ideal, as it was a crazy hot day, and we had 50KM of the SDW ahead of us.
How we did
This was a Jekyll and Hyde of a race. The first half, the mild mannered doctor, was downhill, or flat, to the checkpoint at KM23. The rest of the race was a crazed lunatic, hills, hills and more hills, baking heat, Steyning, and then steps.
See? Lovely. And to be fair it was. After 56K the week before, the same day as Lew ran 24 miles with Rachel on her epic GUCR adventure so neither of us were 100% and had a little fatigue, made worse by the heat and the lack of sleep the night before. Still, we soldiered on with my new RTTS playlist doing the trick.
If anything I did the first half well. I was, for a ways anyway, on for a PB and was happy to plod, reading Lew’s updates. He is a quick boy, and I was sure he would be finishing hours ahead of me.
But as my knee started to ache with tendinitis and I sat down to tape it up and chomp on a Mars bar at 35K, rather than Lew say he had finished and was in the pub with Baz, he was only 5K ahead of me and that, dear readers, really illustrates how tough the day was. He also said he was having to walk, due to the heat and… that he had discovered steps on the way. Steps! Cruel.
But I was on a mission. I had already decided the night before, when I was really starting to feel exhausted, and sweaty, that a 50K a week after a 56K was taking it’s toll a bit. So a 2 x 50K weekend at the Cotswold Way Challenge a week after 2 x marathons at Race to the King, and a week before Serpent Trail and a fortnight before 2 x 50K at Race to the Stones would be too much. So I cancelled my Cotswold hotel and deferred that race entry to next year. I will just jiggle races at the end of the year to hit my 21 in 2021.
Lew had now finished and was in the Sussex pub with Baz.
And I was on the outskirts of the city, marching my way through Hove Park (the finish of the South Coast Challenge), then down the seafront and to the bowling green and the finish, just in time for drinks with Lew and Baz.
And from then, regardless of it being 100 Marathon Club number 55, and my 4th of 2021 in just 7 weeks, the direction of the weekend changed to beer, burgers, more beer, hotel rooms, more beer and a greasy spoon breakfast before heading back to civilisation the next morning.
The Ultravoilet Race Series? Completed it mate.
It did feel like two races. The first half, the flat half was reminiscent of Run to the Sea Bournemouth. It was flat, or slightly downhill with a couple of checkpoints. The checkpoints were not a stocked as I would have liked with just flat Rola Cola and water. But that was fine as I needed the water that day. The second half was very hard, especially in the heat. The organisation of all three events I cannot really fault. The guys do a great job. I would prefer if numbers and kit bags etc are posted to you. It means you can arrive and then go rather than queue and register. The kit bag was an issue. They only transport shoe bag sized bags, that they supply. If you, like Lew and I were, making a weekend of it as you don’t live at either end of the race then you need to pack a race kit, pack and two nights of clothes, tooth brush, toothpaste, deoderant etc in someting designed for a pair of shoes. We did manage, but am not a fan.
I am also not a fan of finishing amongst the crowds of Brighton. I hated it at South Coast Challenge, where we went all the way along the seafront. It wasn’t as bad this time, but I still am not a fan of fighting through the sweaty, drunkard masses.
Would I recommend the Run to the Sea Brighton? I would recommend all three Ultraviolet Races.
Would I run Run to the Sea Brighton again? If I had to, but I would prefer something a little less lumpy.