So, the Steyning Stinger Marathon is the 2nd of 3 consecutive marathon weekends for me. I’ve been here before, back in 2014 and know the course really well, as it shares sections with many other events.
Knowing the course is one thing, dealing with the weather and the under foot conditions is another.
It had been raining a lot over the past week or so and the always boggy Stinger course didn’t disappoint. It rained for a lot of the race. It was torrential at the start and apart from a couple of short breaks, it rain throughout the day. This was coupled with a serious wind that was coming from the south west. The organisers said that conditions were worse than they had seen for the event in the 50+ years it has been taking place.
During the first section on top of the South Downs, we were leaning to the left side to stop ourselves from being blown over and then a turn took us straight into the teeth of a biting gale at around 10k. It was almost not worth trying to run, as walking was almost as quick.
I’m not sure how many distinct climbs the Stinger claims to have, but there are definitely 5 long ones, including the huge climb to Chanctonbury Ring, which does go on forever.
This race seemed to be either head wind, up hill or incredibly slippery under foot at all times and often all 3 at the same time. There really was no respite at all.
I really felt tired at the start. The legs were seriously heavy after the race last week. I have been sleeping badly all week and my head seems to be buzzing a lot. This, coupled with the rubbish weather at the start, didn’t make me totally happy. This is all part of the process though. All part of the mental toughening.
This is the first real climb. I have got the FFS face on here. It was chucking it down and that hill does go on forever.
The miles actually flew by and things went pretty well. At half way I was on target to beat my time from 2014, but the second half of the race had some really boggy and slippery sections, especially the totally demoralising circuit round Steep Down – 7km of pure hard work. Don’t forget the tricky downhill sections either, especially the ones towards the end. Very steep and very slippery. At half way I changed my target to 5 hours 15 minutes and kept going really well to get home in 5 hours 7 minutes.
I love the photos at the end of the marathons. Whether it’s your first or your 101st, it’s still an emotional experience. Marathons are never to be underestimated, whether they’re flat, city events or hilly, muddy treks through the countryside. This feeling is just amazing. Crossing the finish line really is the business.
This event really is brilliant. The marshals are amazing. They stand is some of the most remote spots on the SDW in rubbish conditions and do a great job. The course is fantastic. You get some of the best views in the area and it is one of the most testing marathons around. Not only do you have to contend with the hills, but the mud and the weather.
Nice medal too. Oh, and you get free professional photos as part of this event.
It is a testament to the quality of this event that we now have this as one of our club championship races and runners of all abilities turn out in large numbers (it’s got nothing to do with the free breakfast. Honest).
And so it’s onto the Larmer Tree races over in Wiltshire. 10 miles on Saturday and a marathon on Sunday. More hills and more mud.
Have fun, Neil