A20 Path ‘n’ Downs

In an effort to get out of the flat, so as not to remember that it is: too empty, too quiet, too clean, too un-catted; I threw financial caution and austerity to the winds. I have been desperately trying to save cash as I am living on half my previous salary, with a slightly more in the way of outgoings (random legal bills, driving to Uni in Kent). Once I have actually sold the flat, I will be a little less of a disaster area, but until then I have just stopped doing things that cost money (I cancelled my Amazon Prime, that hurt a lot) and started selling the odd bicycle.

I have done the A20 marathon in the past, I guessed at four years ago but it was only 3. The route for the half is marginally less pretty than the mara as you miss a section on the Pilgrim’s Way (the road to Gillian); but is still rather nice. There appears to be a split in opinions about this race: 1 that it has too much roadside running (I mean really, there is a clue in the name) and 2. that it doesn’t matter. I am on the side of 2, I like it.

Now I tend to do a lot of my road training alongside an A road (on pavement) because it is a little safer that running on the lanes, especially in the winter. However my normal long route has been slightly blighted (and I don’t mean it nastily) in the last couple of weeks by a very large and very late badger. The badger, and it really is/was a biggie; was detectable at about quarter of a mile out last week, and as someone who does really like badgers, and doesn’t like the thought of creatures dying on the roads, I feel bad for it. I also have to sprint for about 200m without breathing to get past it, as the smell has developed character. West Sussex is notorious for roadkill, not sure why. There is even a part of my route that I think of as ‘roadkill alley’ due to the usual appearance of at least one corpse. So being in unfragrant Kent, beside a road that boasted a lot of inorganic rubbish, but nothing late, was quite pleasant (sorry, rather long diversion there).


The start (alongside the A20) is single file-ish, though as it is chip timed, not a problem. So I went to the very back, having been running at about 12 minute miles for months now (except when it is getting dark, I am lost, or I am sprinting past a late mammal). And started pootling along.

The lady that I passed once, and who then passed me. She was still in front at the finish.

I always have this ‘thing’ that I am going to just slot in behind someone with a good consistent pace and stay there for the duration. The ‘thing’ tends to last 30 seconds, as I slot in, get comfy, get bored and overtake. And because I have a short memory, I can do this about 20 times in a half. So I overtook the jolly girls who were aiming for 2.30, the well-equipped and hefty bloke (hefty as in rugby physique, not conducive to fastness), the bloke who thought he was last, the injured woman (was picked up by friend in car), woman in vest top, gaggle after first hill, and a few others. My favourite was ‘man who runs through puddles’ who just went for it through the big puddles that stretched over the track (while others were clinging to the slippery bank at the side). Inspired, I followed him, but he ran out of puff and walked a bit afterwards. I thought (a bit short on puff myself) that I couldn’t walk too, as I was just behind him, and it would be a bit stalky. So I overtook and kept going. We then got to a long long tarmac downhill, where he tried to catch me up and failed. I really like running fast downhill on tarmac, to the extent that it will wipe me out when it turns level. I could hear him pounding behind me, and then gradually disappearing.

From then it all appeared to go terribly quickly. There was a spot between about 11 and 11.5 that looked flat and felt vertical but after that it was fine. Had my tummy not decided to insist on a more cautious pace, I would have been a bit more aggressive at the finish.

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The last pic is of what I think are peahens, presumably waiting outside the hotel lounge (Race HQ) for a cup of coffee?


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