100 Mile Cycle Ride

On Sunday 16th July 2017, at 8am, seven cyclists set off from Eastbourne to ride to Dungeness and back, a total of 100 miles. Mark, a UK vets triathlete was due to race in Iceland on the following weekend so only did 20 miles to see us off. Anthony and Jack unfortunately had committments for the afternoon so could only do one way. The remaining four: Chris, Harvey, Nick and Paul were setting out to go both there and back, 100 miles.


None of these four riders had cycled that distance before. They had been in training but were very apprehensive! The team was raising money for the fantastic ‘Let Them Shine Children’s Centre‘ in Tanzania. The Centre provides much needed care and education to 50 disadvantaged pre-school children. Every penny raised is to go to building a new kitchen and dining room to provide food and nutrition. The route passed through Little Common, Cooden, Bexhill, Hastings, Rye, Romney Marsh, Lydd, on into Dungeness and all the way back again.

When we arrived in Dungeness we were met by a small party of domestiques and masseurs to help us enjoy our twenty minutes sandwich and drink.

    

After a break at 75 miles …

  

We got back to Eastbourne at about 5pm to find drinks and water on the windscreens.

… and the odometer said 100 miles.

Roll on next year!

Still running: the Severn Bridge Half Marathon

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Once upon a time I lived in Chepstow in South Wales, and often jogged the country lanes, including out and back over the old Severn Bridge – always a bracing run with high winds and spectacular views. Now I live in that place called faraway, but visit the UK each summer to see family. So it was that I found myself planning to be in Bristol for a weekend, and discovered that there was to be a Severn Bridge Half Marathon that same weekend. Of course, there being no fool like an old fool, I entered.

The one, hardly significant, difference in running across the Bridge was of course the passage of time. On being sixty, plus a little bit, I was entered in the male 60+ veteran category. I later discovered that I was just one of 58 in the same category. Not bad, but clearly not exceptional.

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The race itself was much bigger than any of the local races I remembered – over 2,000 entrants. I had to get up early, having been warned that the Bridge would close to traffic at 7.45am, in preparation for the race start at 9am. In the best tradition my motorcycle and I crossed the toll booth at 7.42am, saving twenty minutes extra drive. The start area was busy but well-organised, and I quickly collected my race number, had coffee and consequent loo stop, changed and was ready to go.

Somehow the Bridge was a bit longer than I remembered, and a bit steeper, and I’d certainly never crossed it in such company- a tide of runners, flowing almost as majestically as the Severn itself. The Bridge itself was conquered in little more than an hour, out and back. However this turned out to be just the first half of the race. Less fun was the climb up through Bulwark on the Welsh side, followed by the long lane down through Mathern to Pwllmeyric. Nostalgia indeed, since I lived just round the corner for twenty years.

Unfortunately, in running, what comes down must go up. The run back up Dark Lane, passing the twelve mile marker, was fairly tough. The race ended with a short downhill back to the start. Finished in two hours and five minutes, my slowest half marathon but not bad, given the preceding month-long holiday spent in France, eating well and exploring the fine wines of Mersault. Lovely, but not race preparation.

IMG_0629Within hours, the hasty decision ” never again” was under threat, especially as the race organisers had announced a one-off Severn Bridges Marathon next year- out over the Old Bridge, back over the New. That must mean England being cut-off from Wales for several hours! Runners completing the half-marathon this year would be guaranteed entry to this special event next year. Oh dear. At what age do we become sensible?

Words and images by Steve Hill.