Mel’s Milers 10k 2015

The Mel’s Milers 10k is a quick flattish race that starts in Christ’s Hospital School near Horsham, heads south on the Downslink path to Southwater and then retraces it’s steps back to the school where you finish in the quadrangle of this very impressive venue.

Everything about this race is spot on.  The registration area is very well organised and there are no queues.  The marshals are excellent.  It’s a perfect opportunity for a PB, as there are only a couple of slightly undulating sections.

I don’t run too many 10k’s and as this falls so close to the Brighton and London Marathons, it doesn’t figure in my plans that often.  I had set my PB here 2 years ago, so this was the perfect chance to shave a chunk off that PB, which was too high in all honesty (48.44).

I have been going really well, setting new bests on a really regular basis.

However, I did seem to try to sabotage this race as much as I could.  I don’t get to see too many gigs nowadays and when the chance came up to see Courtney Barnett in Brighton on Friday night, I took it, along with the chance to have a few beers (and the night of broken sleep that follows a few beers).

Goblin, one of our cats has been ill for some time now and we realise that she’s not got long left with us.  She was diagnosed as hyperthyroid a while back and was recently diagnosed as diabetic.  She’s eating less and less at the moment and this was certainly the case on Friday and Saturday.  We popped into the vets on Saturday (without the cat) to ask advice.  The vet seems to think that her kidneys are slowing down and we know that the end is getting close.


There’s not much point of sitting at home waiting for something to happen, so we headed off to VegFest in Brighton.  This is a festival to celebrate all things vegetarian, vegan and animal rights related.  We’d been looking forward to it for ages, so off we went.  Already feeling pretty emotional about Goblin, seeing all of the animal protection charities and the great work they do was a little too much and it was a struggle to hold back the tears at times.  What a soppy old git.

The festival was great and it was really nice to share the experience with lots of like-minded people.  The food hall was great as well and most importantly absolutely everything was cruelty free.

22207_10152777190908870_3929615032450512022_n 1900170_10152777190998870_177223170318051341_n 11066563_10152777191413870_4329300726151461962_n 11081478_10152777191198870_5276539912513707308_n 11091340_10152777191108870_3844644096499713276_n

Anyway, I digress little.  What I’m trying to say is that Saturday was draining.  I managed not to eat properly and I had a couple of vegan beers as well.

What I’m saying is that my prep was not good.  I’d trained to a standard where test runs were telling me that I’d go sub 47.

It all started off well and I was strong and on target.  Then I started the 7th kilometre and my mind wondered, I managed to upset myself mid run and that was it.  My times for the 7th, 8th and 9th kilometres were rubbish.  I got myself back on track and the last kilometre was my 3rd quickest.

I got over the line and burst into tears.  I can be fragile at times.  Recent history tells me that this is the case, but I didn’t expect to be this affected like this by Goblin becoming ill.

So it was a PB.  At 47.31 it was a big one as well.  It wasn’t what I’d wanted.  I know that I can go sub 47 and will have to find another flat 10k soon to prove that to myself.

I do feel disappointed that I let things get to me and that I didn’t do what I wanted, but there you go.

We got home to find Goblin to be a little happier.  We have reduced the dose of insulin, which may help apparently.  She went outside for a while and was desperate to spend time with Nick and I.  I guess that it’s just a case of spending as much quality time with her as we can.  There’ll be plenty more 10k’s and I will go sub 47.

This event is really good.  It’s a top race.  It’s pretty intimate.  Only 300-ish runners, so no messing around with queues for the toilet or parking and it is set in a lovely location.

Do it, do it, do it. You’ll love it.

Take care, Neil.


The Moyleman Marathon 2015

So Sunday 15th March finally came round and it is the day of the first running of the Moyleman Marathon, a trail marathon starting and finishing in Lewes and taking in many of the wonderful trails and hills of the surrounding area.

A huge amount of work must have gone in to get everything in place for race day and we were all ready to go.

The event is called the Moyleman, after a local runner Chris Moyle who loved running the hills of this area and sadly died a few years ago.  It was really quite fitting that Camilla Moyle, Chris’ sister ran the race and she wore the number 1.

Registration for the event took place in Wallands school hall in Lewes.  An excellent place for registration with all of the facilities you needed, including tea, coffee and cake.

11009939_10152747053838870_709814355214473888_nThere were 4 Burgess Hill Runner taking part.  We now have a good representation at all local trail events.

988904_10152747054103870_3313295601823099418_nPhilippe and I managed to get numbers 2 and 3.  A reflection of the fact that we registered early rather than our ability.

The start is a short walk from the school hall and the bottom of the hill that leads up to Black Cap.  The race brief took place there, excellently delivered by the Race Director, who quite correctly described the hills as ‘a bit of a bastard’.


So, we’re off bang on time at 10am.  Now this is where the first dilemma came.  My rule for hilly trail marathons is walk the hills, run the flat and the down hills.  However, the first 3.5km are uphill.  The total ascent was 140m.  Not bad to start with.  Everyone ran up the hill to Black Cap. This certainly wasn’t in my plan, but it wouldn’t have felt right to have walked that section.  I would have been alone if I had.


Having passed Black Cap, we turned left and headed down to the A27 for 6km, almost all of which was downhill.  This section was quick, but it was time to make the most of the slow descent to the A27 crossing, where we met the first aid station.

The second climb came at 9km and was 2km long with 130m of elevation gain.  I walked it all.  We weren’t even a quarter of the way through and I knew that there were bigger fish to fry later in the race.


After a short descent of 3km, we found ourselves in a valley.  I had never been in this part of the South Downs before and it is totally stunning.  No signs of life apart from a few idiots seeing how quickly they could complete 26 miles.

10450529_10152747054568870_6177186716960879396_nThe 3rd climb soon came into view and again I started to walk.  At this stage I had some food for the first time.  The on board food for today was date, walnut, brazil nut and chai seed balls.  I know that they look like something that a dung beetle has made, but they are tasty and beat gels hands down.


The 3rd climb is 3.5km long and just over 100m of elevation gain.  At the top we are greeted by the folks at the 2nd aid station.  This was the most remote station as well.  It a pretty good job that the forecast bad weather didn’t come in, or these marshals would have frozen.


At this aid, you turn left and head down what is known as the yellow brick road, which is downhill almost all of the way to the half way point at Southease.

11070211_10152748871773870_8918512131314422313_n 11074093_10152748871678870_37041292334173892_n10349128_10152747054823870_1467085743536214490_nAt the half way point there is a good crowd gathered and another aid station serving sweets and water.  We are at sea level here and I know what was round the corner.  I filled up the water bottles and set off again.


The next 7km are almost all uphill.  The much of it totally unrunnable (not sure that’s a word, but you know what I mean), even if I’d wanted to.  The first section is especially steep.  Just when you thought that the uphill had finish, you went over the crest of a hill and there was another hill coming up.
11070849_10152748872023870_790507831299419722_n 1962849_10152748872108870_4689438909348535020_n 11076277_10152748872623870_3187718071576983901_n

10307180_10152748871523870_848150457216854819_nYou reach the most easterly point at 28.5km and I knew that the most difficult part was over.  Well, that’s what I thought anyway.

The section that brings you off the South Downs Way is very steep, on concrete and thigh busting.  I even met a runner going down backwards to save his knees and thighs.  The bottom of the hill is the 30km point and another aid station with water and jelly babies.

I found the next section pretty easy.  It’s 8km, mainly downhill.  I got into a rhythm and made up some time.  It was at this point that I was sure of making my 5 hour target.  In fact, I was heading for nearer 4 and a half hours (although I hadn’t taken into account what was waiting at mile 23).  This section was in the shadow of the South Downs Way to the north side and I really enjoyed looking over my left shoulder at the great views.

1902079_10152747055668870_4811401995412454537_n 19227_10152747055638870_808750938955507736_n

As we closed in on Glynde village at the last 3 miles, we had to cross a very rutted field.  It was totally dry and this played havoc with tired calves and ankles.  Better than if it had been wet though.


So we head through Glynde village, past the marshal who points us right into a field and there it is.  The hill.  At this stage?  Really?  You’re having a laugh.  So, I set off walking up the hill to where I thought it ended, where there was a gate and a hedge.  Oh how I was wrong, that was probably half way up the hill.  Through the gate it continued and you really could not tell how long it went on for.  It was only just over a kilometre, but there was 130m of elevation gain.

11015856_10152747055978870_1877141769352725027_nThis is the view back from the hedge and below is the view up.


The views from the top were stunning.  Hang on a minute.  I thought that was the last climb, but oh no.  You head down into the valley (some of which is too steep to run), before the last climb (it had to be the last climb surely).  It was only about 700m, but still enough at 25 miles.

So, we could now see Lewes and we headed down the steep hill into the town.  The finish took us along the main shopping area where people either clapped or looked at you like you were a bit weird.  It was a great place to finish.  A quick right turn and we were in the yard of Harvey’s Brewery.


That was it.  4 hours 50 minutes and 25 seconds.  Having crossed the line you get your medal and a voucher for a pint of ale and some food.  Massages were also available.


Given my time, you can probably guess that things went well, even though the course was tougher than I’d expected.  The plan worked and my legs worked.  I fuelled along the route and took my time when I needed to.  Mental strength played a bit part in this race.  At no stage did I even start to talk myself into negative thoughts.

So what about the race?  Well, think of the Brighton, London or any other mass participation run event and now think of exactly the opposite.  Well that’s Moyleman.  Hilly, beautiful, lonely (it was for me, but I like that), relentless and brutal in places.

This is a tremendous addition to the Sussex trail running calendar.  It sits very well with the Steyning Stinger, 3 Forts, Beachy Head and the wonderful events organised by the people at Sussex Trail Events.

Here is the link to the route from my gps –

Thank you all for this.  Top organisation, perfectly sign posted and tremendously well marshaled.  A brilliant tribute to someone who loved those hills.

Can’t wait for next year.  I’m sure that there will be plenty of interest as word spreads.

Take care all and keep running.