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The Lewes Marathon
02-08-2013, 09:57 PM, (This post was last modified: 21-02-2017, 02:04 PM by Sweder.)
#1
The Lewes Marathon
This may never happen.

Chatting over a pint of Longman with local hill cyclist and fellow Rooks fan @charliecat5 (Duncan) last Saturday, something flashed across my beer-addled synapses. Like the fleeting wisp of a dream, vanishing no sooner had you spied it. An idea. It dashed and darted, seeking the shadows, but I grabbed its tail and held fast.

Earlier that day Duncan had taken himself off to cycle the Six Hills of Lewes.
He'd set off from town, up behind the prison and on to Blackcap. Along the South Downs Way towards Ditchling, across the A27 (with a nod to Brighton & Hove's Flying Saucer at Falmer) and ascended the Big W above Kingston Ridge. Down into the Ouse valley, across the river and up, up, up to Firle Beacon. Finally down once more, back over the A27 and onto the last climb, up Mount Caburn, with its child's mobile hang-gliders, before dropping back into the town (by chance right alongside Harveys Brewery).

'How far was that?' I asked.
'28 miles' he beamed.

28 miles. Just a shade over 26.2, in fact. Hmm.

A week later I'm sitting here reading Facebook comments on my posted elevation map of the P2P course. Duncan is on there, as is MLCMMAN and another local Running Rook, @RobKRead. There's crazy talk of a Lewes Marathon, of mapping a course in the style of Feet In The Clouds (for the Bob Graham) or Bierzo Baggie (for the Aquillianos). Autumn weekends spent running sections, noting pathways, routes and rights-of-way, adjusting, tweaking, measuring. Writing, plotting, scheming.

I can't shake the notion that this is a Really Good Idea. Tom Roper has thrown his wise, well-connected hat into the ring, as will others as the idea grows and the word spreads. Like Ray Kinsella, I believe. I believe that if we map it, they will come. Out of the rape-seed, the ghosts of hill-runners past will join our wobbly frames to run again.

Clearly, trying to make any such race 'official' is a shortcut to madness.
But to hold an unofficial, unsanctioned, invitation-only event ...

... but no. I must away to my bed.
To sleep, perchance to dream ...

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph

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03-08-2013, 09:33 AM,
#2
RE: The Lewes Marathon
(02-08-2013, 09:57 PM)Sweder Wrote: This may never happen.
On the contrary, it must happen. I return to running next week after a six week sabbatical, hoping to restore my knee's powers. This would make a lofty goal.
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Next race(s): 
Brighton 10k
Downland Devil
Brighton Half Marathon 2018
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03-08-2013, 06:11 PM, (This post was last modified: 04-08-2013, 08:22 AM by Sweder.)
#3
RE: The Lewes Marathon
A little more meat on the bone.
Looking to stage this sometime in late March/ early April. Possible move to February to avoid Brighton Half/ Hastings Half/ London/ Brighton if a regular event. (might never want to do this again after a first go).

In a reversal of custodial history the race will start at Lewes prison and end at The John Harvey Tavern.

Propsed route:
Spital Road (behind the prison. No loos but lots of shrubs and a big flint wall) (s)
Blackcap (p) (m)
Houndean Farm * (m)
Castle Hill Nature Reserve (p) (m)
Death Valley
Kingston Ridge (top of the W) (p) (m)
Ouse Valley/ level crossing* (m)
Firle Beacon (p) (m)
A27 crossing* (m)
Glynde
Mount Caburn (p)
LGC club house* (m)
Cliffe High St
John Harvey Tavern** (f)

*potential water stations
** definite beer station
(p) peake or high point
(s) start
(f) finish
(m) possible marshal point

Duncan's original route took in Ditchling Beacon. This adds around three miles (we need to lose around two from his route) and, in my view, takes us too far away from the town. There are several options from Blackcap to Houndean Farm, offering changes in distance. I'll measure these in the coming weeks to see which fits our needs best. A lot of the route - from Blackcap to Firle - uses the South Downs Way, a nice touch.

   
Duncan's original route

With plans to launch a Lewes chapter of the HHH it's a busy time in these parts.

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph

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04-08-2013, 05:56 PM,
#4
RE: The Lewes Marathon
Wow this looks interesting as well as an extremely hard run Big Grin.

It sounds like it is going to be an unofficial race but I still think that you need to choose carefully the weekend of the race to optimise acceptance of the invitations.

The large percentage of the local runners that would probably consider doing this run are probably going to be entered for either Brighton or London Marathon, therefore if you make the Lewes Marathon too close to these marathons they would be unlikely to run the Lewes Marathon.

In the first year that I did London Marathon (1992) we ran the Chanctonbury Marathon (hilly and off road) as a training run which was in late February.

The Sussex Races website is the most up to date list of races.

Anyway keep us posted as it could be just the right event to get some of us motivated and start getting out for some regular training. Smile

Julie Smile
Almeria Half Marathon 2017
The Grizzly 2017
That's it for now!!
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04-08-2013, 07:16 PM,
#5
RE: The Lewes Marathon
Well an alternative is to make it a 20 miler, as a Brighton / London warmup. But I suspect "warmup for Brighton" isn't the local pride vibe you're aiming for. Smile
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04-08-2013, 10:42 PM, (This post was last modified: 04-08-2013, 10:58 PM by Sweder.)
#6
RE: The Lewes Marathon
Hi Jules. The intention is to move this to February, maybe mid Feb, but the weather is a factor. I agree that March is ambitious, yet clashing with road races is not a concern. The first run, possibly in 2014, will be a small, invitational field and very much a test case. My idea is not to turn this into a mass event but hold it for local runners who prefer offroad marathons. Several people have mentioned they'd rather not run road marathons and that helped spark this idea.

Nice idea on the 20, Dan. The Jog Shop Jog is THE offroad 20 in these parts and I wouldn't want to intrude there, albeit a few months later. Besides, we'd have to drop one of the 'peaks' and that won't do. This is a mini 'round' in the Bob Graham sense, a proper circumnavigation of all the town's immediate hills. Pride? That comes before a fall. This is a local race for local people. Besides, as a running challenge, it will knock Brighton into a cocked hat Big Grin

None of the ascents are as tough as the steepest 'sting' on the stinger, yet combined I think the elevation might just top it. We'll see. Duncan today measured a few alternative routes off Firle into Glynde and Rob has suggested extending the route out Alfriston way to take in all the Bloomsbury Set houses. A nice touch.

Much to think about. Really appreciate the thoughts/ feedback.

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph

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05-08-2013, 09:14 AM,
#7
RE: The Lewes Marathon
(04-08-2013, 10:42 PM)Sweder Wrote: None of the ascents are as tough as the steepest 'sting' on the stinger, yet combined I think the elevation might just top it.

Eek. Not really suitable for gorillas, then.
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05-08-2013, 12:37 PM,
#8
RE: The Lewes Marathon
(05-08-2013, 09:14 AM)marathondan Wrote:
(04-08-2013, 10:42 PM)Sweder Wrote: None of the ascents are as tough as the steepest 'sting' on the stinger, yet combined I think the elevation might just top it.

Eek. Not really suitable for gorillas, then.

I don't think 'fun run' will apply to this one.

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph

Reply
05-08-2013, 08:47 PM, (This post was last modified: 06-08-2013, 07:26 AM by Sweder.)
#9
RE: The Lewes Marathon
A splendid reaction from the Sunday Runners group (via Facebook). We now have a willing squad of hill runners eager to test the sections. I've explained that the will be minimal marshaling and water stations will most likley be containers of drinking water dropped off early that morning or the night before. There will be a lot of DIY about this, yet therein lies the appeal for me.

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph

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06-08-2013, 01:19 AM,
#10
RE: The Lewes Marathon
Mate, I called the Sussex Psychiatric Hospital - they are definitely interested in sponsoring this event.
Run slow, run far.
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08-08-2013, 05:01 PM,
#11
RE: The Lewes Marathon
Have now joined the Commentariat so I can offer my meagre thoughts on the Lewes Marathon - chose Out Along the River as name since that's where most of my jaunts seem to start since I live down by the Pells. But in reality I am Rob Read, and heavily reliant on Sweder's advice and support to have got round the Seaford Half - now pondering if this Lewes Marathon madness is exciting or insane or both. My suggestions so far have been to loop in Bloomsbury locations (Monks House, Tilton House, Charleston etc) since the route suggested goes so close to these iconic spots. Not that those lot were great runners (or maybe they might have been?). Ran up Black Cap and over to the University to work this morning - seemed a good thing to do.
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08-08-2013, 06:07 PM,
#12
RE: The Lewes Marathon
Welcome to the fold, Rob! We're not all totally mad here, but we do wonder occasionally about it. Tell us more about your running!
Run slow, run far.
Reply
09-08-2013, 07:45 AM, (This post was last modified: 09-08-2013, 07:58 AM by Sweder.)
#13
RE: The Lewes Marathon
Hail, Golden Rook! And well met.
I really like the Bloomsbury idea, another USP, not that we're trying to 'sell' anything. I'm hoping to map Lewes/ Blackcap/ Houndean Farm/ Castle Hill/ Death Valley* on Sunday morning, leaving Chez Sweder at around 08:00. I know these areas fairly well. The second half will be most interesting for me as, Firle Beacon aside, it'll all be new trails to me. Very exciting!

*12 miles may be a bit much for me but I'm prepared to walk/ walk back via Kingston, or perhaps tumble down the W onto Juggs lane via the refurbed windmill.

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph

Reply
09-08-2013, 08:25 AM,
#14
RE: The Lewes Marathon
(05-08-2013, 08:47 PM)Sweder Wrote: A splendid reaction from the Sunday Runners group (via Facebook). We now have a willing squad of hill runners eager to test the sections. I've explained that the will be minimal marshaling and water stations will most likley be containers of drinking water dropped off early that morning or the night before. There will be a lot of DIY about this, yet therein lies the appeal for me.

Someone once showed me how to get fresh-ish water out of the cattle drinking troughs that abound on the route. It involves fiddling with the ballcock (fnarr).
χαιρέτε νικὠμεν
Next race(s): 
Brighton 10k
Downland Devil
Brighton Half Marathon 2018
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09-08-2013, 01:35 PM,
#15
RE: The Lewes Marathon
(08-08-2013, 06:07 PM)Mid Life Crisis Marathon Man Wrote: Welcome to the fold, Rob! We're not all totally mad here, but we do wonder occasionally about it. Tell us more about your running!

I used to play a lot of 5-a-side football - so could run quickly for about 5 yards - but then had torn ACL replaced 4 years ago, and tried but failed to get back into playing. Twisting motion on knees impossible. Had got v unfit by middle of 2012 and by November had got sick of not doing any exercise. So decided to start running - even though had previously hated the idea of it. Used Runkeeper app to guide me to going from not running at all to doing Lewes 10k in April - and happily got round that in just under 55 mins (which had been my goal). Inspired by Feb 2012 run with Sweder and Tom Roper over the seven sisters - glorious day and great company - to entering the Seaford Half which I completed - and that's essentially where I am now. using RK app to train for sub2hr half marathon - but haven't entered anything else in the meantime. Fancy a nice 5k or 10k race in October, so open to ideas and suggestions for what is fun. Bizarrely most enjoy running up hills - and unable to catch Sweder when he hares off downhill like a madman.
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09-08-2013, 02:00 PM,
#16
RE: The Lewes Marathon
(09-08-2013, 07:45 AM)Sweder Wrote: Hail, Golden Rook! And well met.
I really like the Bloomsbury idea, another USP, not that we're trying to 'sell' anything. I'm hoping to map Lewes/ Blackcap/ Houndean Farm/ Castle Hill/ Death Valley* on Sunday morning, leaving Chez Sweder at around 08:00. I know these areas fairly well. The second half will be most interesting for me as, Firle Beacon aside, it'll all be new trails to me. Very exciting!

*12 miles may be a bit much for me but I'm prepared to walk/ walk back via Kingston, or perhaps tumble down the W onto Juggs lane via the refurbed windmill.

According to my runkeeper app I'm meant to be doing 7 miles on Sunday - might I join you for some of this?
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10-08-2013, 06:14 PM,
#17
RE: The Lewes Marathon
Absolutely. 7 miles should get us across the 27 and close to Castle Hill. A walk/ run from there back via Kingston should total around 11 or so.

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph

Reply
11-08-2013, 10:19 PM,
#18
RE: The Lewes Marathon
This course is going to be a brute.

Met up with OutAlongTheRiver at Chez Sweder just before eight. We walked down to Spital Road (all of a hundred and fifty yards from my front door), the rough chalk/ flint track that slides behind the prison wall and leads up onto the downs. This appeals as a starting point, offering two hundred metres of rarely used, fairly wide hard standing on which runners can congregate. Minimal impact on the locale and as good a launch pad for this madness as any.

The climb from here to Blackcap is gentle. The trail rises to crest the downs before passing the racing stables and easing into a series of ascents. Flint and chalk provide a solid, if less than flat, footing. The summit of Blackcap appears at 2.5 miles. This seems like a good spot for a first water station. By placing water at the trig point we can discourage runners from sneaking past on the low side to avoid the steeper section.

The next gate takes us onto the South Downs Way, more rubbly hard standing leading south towards the A27. We cocked up here, chatting incesantly about options and race details, missing entirely the all important left turn. It was only when Houndean Farm appeared before us that we realised, jogging back shame-faced at this basic error. Once back on the SDW proper we encountered a testing climb into and through dense woodland. Overhead cover is a good thing. If the weather is inclement this offers respite from the rain. If it happens to be balmy (unlikely in February) the trees offer shade. On over the brown and down, down towards the road and a right turn back along the asphalt towards the farm and the bridge across the road. Mounted helpfully on the flint wall here is a tap offering fresh drinking water to all. At around the 10k point this provides the perfect spot for the next drinks station.

Rob bade me farewell, sticking to his planned seven miler, heading on up the 27 towards Lewes. I carried on across the footpath and onto the cinder track. I noted the distance at the tunnel under the railway to be 7.1 miles. All such tunnels are, apparently, numbered. This one is numbered 710. Sadly, thanks to our errant navigation earlier, this is unlikely to be accurate come final mapping. Shame.

After the tunnel the track turns to grass, snaking up, up for well over half a mile. Ripening, golden stalk beamed happily, the adjacent grasslands bursting with blossoming wildflowers. I huffed and puffed as the sun shone through a rare break in the clouds, resorting to walking as my legs grew heavy towards the top.

There are a few options for our final route from the top of this climb. To the right, along the spine of the downs, a mere 200 metres from the crossroads, is Castle Hill Nature Reserve. This leads down into Death Valley and the shadow of the Snake. Turn left and the SDW wriggles along the ridge, brushing the tips of the W before twisting onto the Yellow Brick road. So including the W is an option, but I favour turning right, and so I did. I took a moment at the bottom of Castle Hill to wave across to Moyleman's last resting place, across the valley, high above and to my right.

A mile on more options waited at the abandoned farm buildings. Left along another sheltered pass leads up onto the SDW in the middle of the W. Right offers Old Snakey, a run through to the Farmer's Field (which I usually run down heading the other way) and a loop back around to the YBR. My time on this run was well and truly up, legs shot and breathing ragged. Time to head home. I turned left, took the second V of the W down off the hills (past the partly refurbished white windmill) and onto Juggs Lane. I noted with some relish that the 13.1 mile point was precisely on the doorstep of the Swan Pub. I may have to use this route in training ...

   
Elevation map

Bagged a total just shy of 23 kilometres. Total ascent was 513.8 metres.
The route has to be honed and polished, but we've carved out a pretty decent first 15k. Linking to the YBR will be easy enough. That takes us off towards Southease and across the Ouse, sticking to the SDW all the way up Firle Beacon.

A good start.

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph

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11-08-2013, 10:28 PM, (This post was last modified: 11-08-2013, 10:30 PM by Mid Life Crisis Marathon Man.)
#19
RE: The Lewes Marathon
(09-08-2013, 01:35 PM)OutAlongTheRiver Wrote:
(08-08-2013, 06:07 PM)Mid Life Crisis Marathon Man Wrote: Welcome to the fold, Rob! We're not all totally mad here, but we do wonder occasionally about it. Tell us more about your running!

... So decided to start running - even though had previously hated the idea of it. Used Runkeeper app to guide me to going from not running at all to doing Lewes 10k in April - and happily got round that in just under 55 mins (which had been my goal). Inspired by Feb 2012 run with Sweder and Tom Roper over the seven sisters - glorious day and great company - to entering the Seaford Half which I completed - and that's essentially where I am now. using RK app to train for sub2hr half marathon - but haven't entered anything else in the meantime. Fancy a nice 5k or 10k race in October, so open to ideas and suggestions for what is fun. Bizarrely most enjoy running up hills - and unable to catch Sweder when he hares off downhill like a madman.

Good gear Rob ... the sub-2 hour half should be more than possible for you if you did sub-55 minutes comfortably for the 10k. It just requires persistent training for a few weeks. For me that meant 30 - 50km per week for 3 or 4 months with several interval sessions (10 x 800m @ 5:00/km pace would about do it) thrown into the mix.

Running uphill is much easier on the knees than downhill, so not so bizarre at all to prefer it! You should join us on the Point To Pinnacle run one year!

And don't worry about not being able to catch Sweder ... few people in our age group can. He's a legend. Mad, but a legend.

Enjoy your running and stay in touch!
Run slow, run far.
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11-08-2013, 10:35 PM,
#20
RE: The Lewes Marathon
(11-08-2013, 10:19 PM)Sweder Wrote: This course is going to be a brute.
...
A good start.

Are you quite sure this is legal?
Run slow, run far.
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