The Greensand Marathon

Last weekend was special, I ran my first marathon!

What may come as a surprise is that I did not partake in Trionium’s Greensands Way Marathon for its 26.2 mile distance, but simply to share my joy of running and exploration of the Surrey Hills with others; runners, joggers, striders and spectators alike. Not to forget that I had recently brought some cowbells back from the French Alps and my parents were eager to try them out (apologies Surrey Hills residents).

I used to live in a hamlet tucked in the woodland of the ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ and with direct access to the vast and varied running playground my evening run would involve the ascent of Leith Hill, the highest point in South East England, even in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Now, based in the leafy outskirts of London, I still regularly return to these hills, which lie close to my heart providing strength to the body and calm to the soul.

I was basically treating the event as a longer than usual, long run, intrigued to see how I would feel having only been easy running since returning to action following two months of injury. Last year’s winner, Ed Catmur, set out with good rhythm and relaxing into a steady state, where running motion becomes the natural state of being almost akin to breathing, I was able to enjoy the trail, the landscape, the banter with the marshals and supporters alike.

Starting in Dorking the course, exactly as stated, heads out and back along The Greensands Way taking in small paths, sandy byways, steep stepped sections and muddy trails whilst crossing stiles and meandering through gates. With 1170m of ascent over the distance it is far from flat, but you are well rewarded with vast and spectacular green panoramas over the Weald and South Downs.

The looped route enables great camaraderie between participants and after the halfway turn radiant smiles and yelps of encouragement lifted my spirit and legs.

Nearing the sandy descent towards Dorking I wanted to see if my legs could still flow after more than 20 miles of running, and they did. Taking the lead and extending it to almost 3 minutes, I cruised to the finish apart from walking up a few large steep steps (shhhh, don’t tell anybody).

At the finish there were carrots to be eaten (why?) and everyone milled around to support the incoming runners and exchange stories of their experience. Many wanted to hear about my run, I wanted to relive theirs, it was an uplifting energising gathering. Trionium have managed to establish an event, which tests the body in a stunning setting whilst maintaining real character and charm, thank you so much!

I almost forgot to mention, as I was not wearing a watch I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had broken the course record and clocked 2:54:50 over the distance. Not too bad for a hilly long, long run, but that was never the focus.

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