It’s pretty easy to get carried away straight after an event, especially when you live in my head and that type of thing comes very easily.
However, it has to be said that this race is brilliant.
We arrived early. Of course we did. I’d rather be there 2 hours early that a second too late. The car park was nearly empty, but already manned by helpful, friendly marshals.
I was doing the half marathon as part of my taper and Nick was doing the full marathon as part of, well, her continued enthusiasm for 26.2 miles.
We had the pleasure of sharing the day with a group of Burgess Hill Runner friends as well.
From the word go, you can tell that this event is tremendously well organised.
Everything was in place well before we arrived.
The facilities were excellent, check in and bag drop as smooth as you could wish. This was probably helped by the marathon and half marathon runners setting off at different times, but even so.
The more I visit this type of event, the more I can’t see myself doing another mass participation road marathon. The race director came over to thank us for coming around an hour before the marathon started. I can’t imagine that happening at too many events.
So the marathon runners set off at 9.30, leaving the half marathon runners with an hour to kill.
As with the full marathon, we had the race brief and a warm up conducted by a local fitness instructor.
And before we knew it, we were off.
The course offers a bit of everything. On road through lovely little villages, spongy forest trails, sand covered trails, open fields and mud. Everything that tempts people like me to go to events like this.
This is not the place to go for a PB. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about doing the Farnham Pilgrim Marathon (or half in my case). It’s about sharing the day with people who enjoy the same thing. It’s about spending time in the beautiful countryside. And it’s about pushing yourself over a pretty tough course that is sapping at times.
My experience of off road long distance events always leads me back to make comparisons with Steyning Stinger and the 3 Forts Challenge. The elevation gain on the Farnham Pilgrim is less than both the Stinger and 3 Forts. Don’t let this fool you into thinking that it is easier though. There are many sections on the Farnham event that are on sand covered paths. The sand is loose and not compacted, which means you move some sand each time you push off. There are a lot of single file trails through the forest as well, which I find energy sapping. I didn’t get as far as St. Martha’s on the Hill Church (which is on the marathon course), but I understand that said hill is a bit of a git (as you can see at 12.5 miles on Nick’s GPS below). It is far from being flat. The marathon course has 590 m / 1935 ft of elevation gain on it.
I have touched on the organisation of the event and this is personified by the volunteers. There were 200 marshals out on the course. At every bend or stile there was someone to point you in the right direction or give you a cheer. They were an absolute dream. There were also aid stations at very regular intervals.
This event is worth every penny. You even get a technical t-shirt, as well as a medal.
I know I’m biased, but give your hard earned cash to events like this rather than ‘the big ones’. They’re so much more fun and much much cheaper.
Have fun everyone and enjoy.
The photos are mine or the ones that I have shamelessly stolen from Caz Wadey’s Facebook page.
A brilliant write up of this amazing event, which I will definitely be back to tackle again next year!
It does look like an amazing event. Couldnt agree more about going slightly off the beaten track and finding these smaller, friendlier events. Great photos and write up. Glad I stumbled across you via wordpress reader.
Thanks John. A lot of our club are moving towards these events now. We’ve got 2 big lower key off road ones coming up in the Downslink Ultra and Beachy Head Marathon. There seems to be a lot less pressure on the low key events, making them more fun. All reports from all our runner at Farnham were very positive.