If you want an adventure with spectacular views, plenty of support along the way and somewhat challenging terrain, take a look at the London to Brighton Challenge. I only wish I had beforehand. That being said, the 100K challenge (not race) has to one of the most rewarding routes I have run in a long time.
Not only did it give me the chance to bang on about politics, the economy, family etc…with a friend from Marathon des Sables (for about half of the journey), it also felt good to accomplish that distance with gas still left in the tank. But enough about me, it’s definitely something worth considering when you want to push yourself. Here’s why you should consider the London to Brighton Challenge in 2018.
The London to Brighton Challenge 2017
With multiple distances on offer (you could do 100K in 24h or split over two days or 50K) and the choice to walk, jog or run, the London to Brighton Challenge offers something for everyone. Not one for hanging about, I decided to do it all in one go.
Whatever you decide, you need to physically and mentally train for it. Get used to being on your feet for a long time, ensure your body is in good nick, and that you feel strong, and most importantly slow it down. There’s no point in setting out at a pace that will burn you out by mile 26.2. With the right training, you can run it, just be prepared to take enough time to enjoy the journey.
All I knew before I set off was that I had to be at Richmond for 6:30am. Thank goodness for the night tube and my friend plus scooter, who swiftly drove us both to the start at silly ‘o clock in the morning. The route was split into four stages that took in both the North and South Downs. And while I enjoyed the first stage, running along the river towards Kingston, the race really came into its own when we started going off the beaten track and through fields and woodlands before coming to the halfway stage (56K) at Tulley’s Farm.
The third quarter of the race was again full of beautiful scenery but my favourite part had to be running through the stunning South Downs and a whole host of pretty villages where you can only dream of living in one day. It may have been a climb, especially on tired legs (at around 80-ishK) but it was totally worth it. I really didn’t know what to expect and had been told that the run to Brighton was pretty flat. Erm, nope. It was a wonderful run through some of England’s most glorious countryside with panoramic views bathing in the golden sunshine.
I don’t think I’ve run a race with so much support along the way. Providing plenty of snacks, hot drinks, sweets, crisps, you name it, they pretty much had it, you could not go hungry along the way. I even stopped off halfway for a hot meal while waiting for my friend to come in. Seriously, there were eight rest points along the way where you could stock up of simply have a break for a bit. There was no need to take any extra fuel if you don’t mind eating stuff like Naked Bars, Walkers crisps, Nature’s Valley bars etc… (you did need water bottles to fill up) as you could stuff your pockets with a variety of treats on offer.
You could even have a massage if you wanted, and all ‘runners’ bags were transferred to the end for free. If you like having your cake and eating it, this 100K is worth putting on your list.
The aim with this one was to enjoy it and not see it as a race, and the atmosphere reflected this philosphy. Everyone was friendly and really supportive. At the final stages, when I was passing the 50K walkers and some runners, everyone cheered me on. Maybe this was down to the fact that lots of participants were running or walking the challenge for charity. It did feel less competitive than other challenges I have taken part in, which could also have been partly down to my decision to run some of the distance at a leisurely pace with my friend. All the staff at the checkpoints were supportive and even when we ran through some of the villages, there were free sweets and rounds of applause from the locals sipping on their drinks at the pub.
When you finally arrived at the Brighton Racecourse and collected your medal, a glass of fizz, t-shirt, bag etc…you were again offered the chance of a hot meal and transport down to the station to catch the train back to London. It really couldn’t have been better organised and hassle free. Since I’d left my friend halfway, I wondered how I would get back to the station but all these worries melted away thanks to the excellent transportation put on by the team. I was tired but exhilarated by this little jog from London to Brighton. It would definitely be on my list for next year
You can choose to participate in the challenge for charity or enter, as I did, as a self-funded challenger for the rather hefty price of £185. Yes, I did flinch at the cost. It’s the price of two Eurostar tickets for two, but having seen the organisation, you know where the money goes. At the moment, you can get £40 off, and pay £40 now plus £105 at a later date, which may soften the blow. Is it worth it? If this is your main aim for 2018, definitely.
To sign up, go to: http://www.london2brightonchallenge.com