It is a cloudy and grey morning, with damp humid air still thick from the rain we had last night. Temperatures are to be varied from 12-19C and a brisk south west breeze, which is good for the direction we are running!
The sun is expected in the afternoon. Perfect conditions after the humidity clears.
I start to see running friends arriving and catch up with Shawn, Mark, Darren, Jess, Kevin and Sheila. Darren seems quite nervous and unsure about today. This is his first 100 miler attempt.
Shawn and Mark ask if I am racing and going for the win! I laugh...that I doubt that very much and although feel ready and rested, I just do not know how the day will go.
Running on feel and to enjoy myself with a better time is my goal. Unlike last year in Luna Sandals, I am in trail shoes today, the Inov8 x-Talon 212 in standard fit.
Reaching Beacon Hill Beeches. I take out an S!Cap ready for when I approach the aid station. No need for fuel yet, as breakfast of half avocado/olive oil, then a half measure of the bulletproof coffee is still keeping me charged enough.
I text Sunday to say I am at CP1.
After another few miles we come into Harting Downs and another aid station. Just a few sips of water and I nibble on some nuts here with some cheese that is on offer.
I catch up with David and then Sam Robson as they have walking breaks. They are both in very good spirits and enjoying the scenery around us.
I pick up my pace and listen to some beats as the sun starts to come out to shine.
At Kithurst the next aid station, Welcomed by friendly smiles and clapping.
I am aware other runners are not that far behind and currently I am in 5th position.
Every minute counts and having all my supplies and items ready is always good but never easy. I think with too much on offer, it is hard knowing what I want.
I have some coffee and cream first that is already flasked, half an avocado and some cheese that Alma kindly had brought in for me.
I catch up briefly with everyone but aware that 10 minutes to stop are almost up! I take my UD bottle topping with 1/2 Nuun tablet and water that fits snug into my side mesh pocket before heading on outside again.
Thanking the brilliant team and hugs to loved ones. I run back up the road I came, with directions from Elvis, (no I am not hallucinating) then taking the left to follow the markers.
Once over the rolling climbs and near to the road crossing I see Nick again with some olives. I walk with him whilst having few and asking how his day is going.
I am slowly drawing in the front pack group as they start to slow.
At 17:32 I make it into Saddlescombe. It is always so cute and very British arriving here at the barn in the courtyard.
The crew here refill my pack and I take some jelly babies for my sugar kick, some salted pecans and nibble on cheese and tomatoes.
Sally has already been in and out by this time so I power walk out and over the bridge, whilst texting Sunday and John that I am on my way.
The runner that was leading, Stellan Fries, has gone off the route and been lost. The team here actually asked if it was me that got lost...
I have quick cup of water and some chocolate, few nuts and feel good to keep moving. The last steep climb up to the trig point is next and then the downhill stretch to the finish...
I thank the team and for their time and head on back up the lane and then the next footpath turning for the steep rocky climb up.
This is it and the last and steep climb up to the top before heading into Eastbourne.
I trot up where I can and power walk the most part. It feel like forever and it does take a fair while. The climb is a good 1.5 mile to the top.
I follow the orange paint marked on the floor and remember the arrow is cutting across left to the gap in the trees. I head on down and careful to watch my step through the gorge.
It soon ends and then down the track around the houses to meet the road. I take some jelly babies to chew the sugar out in the hope it can lift me for the final few miles...
I feel so ready to finish and my quads are screaming to stop running!
Crossing the road and following the arrow markers past the Hospital and then to the cut through pathway to the sports track.
Along the winding cycle track dotted with lampposts, which is the last and final stretch until reaching the sports track.
The flood lights are in view and I try with all my strength to get to them as quick as my legs will carry me...
Nobody sees or hears me approaching and I surprise everyone when I meet the track. I try to lift me pace for the last and final lap until the end.
Everything seems to go slow mo...
The finishing team are screaming at me and I can see some of the crew running along to come meet me.
Sunday shouts out 'oh my god' in amazment and Andy Nuttall is now running along side me trying hard to keep up the pace...
This is it I made it. I check my watch and see I smashed my sub 18 hour target by hours...
I freshen up, change from my damp clothes then have some bacon with a strong coffee, with a double vodka added! one I packed earlier and very much earned...
It is good to catch up with Andy at the finish and ask about his brilliant GUCR race he completed recently. I ask for a few tips for the Thames Ring I have in just ten days time. I really hope my body has recovered some for it, but then it is such a long distance I shall be starting out much slower than what I have just achieved.