So as some of you may know, for me the winter season is finished, which means it’s holiday time! On Friday I flew back into London with my sister, not only to catch up with the family, but to run a few “training races” as well. The first on the list was my attempt to break my own personal best distance of 32 miles. The race in question… The Fowlmead 50!
The Location was on the beautiful Kent coastline, a little north of Deal in Betteshanger Country Park. This was my first time in the area and my first race with the organizers Travis and Rachel, so I was very excited to see what all of the hype was about. I had only ever heard good things about their events, and the fact that most of them are sold out within days is testament to how much people enjoy them. They describe their events as being “exactly the way we wish they were all run. Low key, friendly and with most of the entry fee being spent on the runners.” Which I have to agree, that’s how I like them!
After waking up at a brisk 6am on the Saturday morning, still not quite awake or sure what I had let myself in for, I stumbled around the coastline of deal to find my bus stop. The short ride to Betteshanger Park consisted of metal preparation for the day to come. In my mind saying that I have to run 50 miles is not a problem, but the idea of running for a constant 12 hours seems like an eternity. Upon arriving to the race track I was greeted by Travis with a running number to sign for one of the runners, Lisa, who was completing her 100th Marathon that day! Puts my tiny 5 marathons to shame! In my half asleep state I just scribbled my signature without really realising what it was! Sorry Lisa! The group of people who were running that day were far more diverse than I was expecting. I thought that everyone would be hardcore runners trying to complete the 50 miles, but there was a nice mix, a few for the 50 miles, some trying to gain a new PB distance or finish a marathon, and even a few people just to have a leisurely jog for 10 miles. I remember thinking that this is what I like, no pressure to hit a target, just run for as long as you can, and if you finish one lap, you gain an amzing medal for your collection.
The weather held off nicely, it was cloudy and a slight bit of wind around the track, but nothing to spoil the day. The course consisted of a 2 mile loop on a tarmac cycle path, one of the smoothest I have run on, and around 50ft of incline, an amount so small that even I didn’t notice, and I hate any kind of uphill! The first 13 miles was like most I have done, quite happily jogging along enjoying the scenery, and after I had finished the first half marathon I decided to hit the aid station. Boy, I wish I had visited sooner! It was like visiting the corner shop before you went to school. Sweets, savorys, biscuits, cakes, gels, varieties of squash, cola and water. I can imagine it then it was there. I found out afterwards that some of the runners make snacks to bring and just leave for everyone to help themselves to, resulting in one of the most amazing aid stations I think I have ever seen! Whoever made the bacon and cheese pastry sticks, THANK YOU! They kept me going for most of the day. Unfortunately I didn’t have the energy to think of taking any photos for you all, but I am returning to run again on Friday so I promise to take plenty for the next post!
Unfortunately by the time I hit the 20 mile mark the cramps were starting to set in, and I decided to run the next 2 laps barefoot. Genious! Why I had never thought of this before, I was running so much better, the laps were almost as quick as the first. But as anyone who has tried this knows that it doesn’t get you very far. After another 4 miles, the feet were cold and battered. It was time t put the shoes back on and hobble around for the second marathon of the day! Thankfully another nutter decided to join me in my quest of run-walk-run-walk to the 50 mile point, thank you for the push and the encouragement Dani, it definitely helped me through the pain till I finished. This might be a good point to say a huge thank you and well done to everyone who was volunteering on that day, some were around for the full 12 hours, constantly giving out advice and cheers, manning the aid stations and punching distance cards. You guys were all amazing and made the whole race feel so personal and friendly.
By the time I had hit the 28 mile mark, I could feel myself fading and the pain in my knee growing (Possibly from running without the shoes?). It was now getting to the point where my running was becoming slower than my walking… and the walking was slow enough! It was now time for the hard decision. I was still within my own time frame to finish the 50 miles within the 12 hour cutoff, but with another event on Friday and the London Marathon on the Sunday, was it really work injuring myself? Eventually I decided to give up on the gigantasour medal that I had been waiting so long to collect, there is always next year, right? So as I finished my 15 laps, 30 miles, just 2 1/2 miles shy of my PB distance, I rang the bell and signalled the end to my race. Thankfully though, if you finish under the 50 miles you still get a pretty bad-ass medel!
After receiving my medal and sitting down at the finish line, I realised that I had somehow come very close to beating my PB for a half marathon and marathon distances (10 minutes off and 18 minutes off). I put it down to the amazing people around me and the constant encouragement! All in all I had a great day out at the Fowlmead 50. From the people to the location to the event, I loved every minute of it, despite not reaching my 50 mile goal. I am returning on Friday to the Kent coastline to take part in another of the Saxon, Vikings and Normans races, themed around Alice in Wonderland. I cannot wait to run with you all again, and I promise that there will be plenty of pictures next time!!