St Catherine's Oratory

38. Monumental Marathon

50/50 marathons

38. Monumental Marathon

27th June 2020.

Viewpoint carpark Blackgang

Another week shoots by and I’m back to the Groundhog Day of running another marathon. I was originally going to be running around Devon this weekend for the North Devon Marathon. I’ve had this one tucked up my sleeve for a rainy day and today was indeed a rainy and particularly windy day.

A friend of mine had sent me a route a little while back, that had been dubbed ‘monumental’. It was a route that circled around the southeast of the Isle of Wight and passed a few monuments along the way. I used this as the basis of today’s route but did it point to point rather than as a loop.

I had visited the Tennyson monument on a couple of marathons already, ‘not the Brighton marathon’ and ‘the South Wight Ballbreaker’, so I didn’t need to tackle that hill again, besides, the route I had mapped out looked likely to be the hilliest marathon yet!

Monumental Marathon Route

St Catherine’s Oratory

My run started at the viewpoint car park, just above Blackgang. From there a footpath leads you up onto St Catherine’s down and the first monument. Also an opportunity to catch my breath from the first hill.

Known locally as ‘the pepper pot’, St Catherine’s Oratory is one of the Island’s more famous landmarks. It looks like an ancient rocket standing tall overlooking the beautiful south Wight coastline. According to English Heritage, ‘It is likely that the oratory, completed in 1328, was erected by Walter de Godeton, a local landowner who was condemned by the Church for stealing casks of wine from a shipwreck which had occurred in 1314 off Chale Bay’.

It turns out the wine belonged to the church, so they were a bit miffed and threatened him with excommunication unless he built a lighthouse above the site of the shipwreck. The lighthouse was manned by a priest, who would keep the flame burning and also hold masses there. Not technically a monument, but I like it. It’s also the site of a Bronze Age burial site.

St Catherine's Oratory
St Catherine's Oratory

The Hoy Monument

So ok, St Catherine’s Oratory May not be a monument, but if you continue a bit further along St Catherine’s down, you can’t miss the Hoy Monument. As monuments go, this one is a massive erection! It’s very tall, 72 feet to be exact. It’s also known as the Alexandrian Pillar. Michael Hoy, a successful Russian merchant, had the monument erected to commemorate the visit to Britain, in 1814, of ‘His Imperial Majesty Alexander the 1st, Emperor of all the Russias’. Sadly the Tsar never came to the Isle of Wight, apparently, the ferry fare was too expensive!

On a sunny day, the view from the monument would be amazing, but today was grey, very wet and windy, so visibility was pretty awful. On my way down a rather steep hill from the monument, I slipped and had a bit of a tumble. I landed with a crunch on the base of my spine and somehow managed to twist my leg in a very awkward manner. I lay on the floor for a while feeling somewhat dazed. Once up, I cursed my choice of footwear. Why did I not wear trail shoes? I’d forgotten how challenging it can be running downhill on a slippy surface. Needless to say, I continued a lot more gingerly.

Hoy monument
Hoy monument

The Worsley Monument

The route I’d plotted was pretty much entirely Trail, with a light sprinkling of quiet roads. But all in all, it was proving to be quite a beautiful route, even in the rain.

The next monument of the route was the Worsley monument. I’d previously visited it on marathon 34, this time I was approaching from a different direction, but it still didn’t make the climb up to the top of Stenbury Down any easier. Running isn’t really an option. It’s a case of walk or crawl, but once at the top you are blessed with a stunning panorama of the Isle of Wight in all it’s glory… only not today! I was buffeted by the wind and could see about 2 meters in front of me, at least I could see if any rogue ramblers came too close. Social distancing was maintained, I didn’t see a soul.

The Worsley monument was erected in 1774 by Sir Richard Worsley in memory of Sir Robert Worsley of Appuldurcombe House. The monument was struck by lightning in 1831 and partially demolished. It remained in that state until it was repaired in 1983, only not to its original height.

Worsley monument
Worsley monument

The Yarborough Monument

From Godshill, I had the joy of the longest section of the run, towards the jolly unpleasant hill that goes up to Culver Down. I wanted to avoid the main roads through Lake and Sandown, so all the route was trail. There was a nice section that went through America Woods. Obviously I got lost, but that’s part of the fun right? In fact, this marathon was more of an orienteering route. I spent so much time just trying to figure out which way I should be going, so it was a bit on the slow side.

I passed right through Sandown golf course. There were loads of people out playing, I had to keep my eyes open for any random golf balls heading in my direction.

The Yarborough Monument stands 75 feet tall and is perched right on the top of Culver down. However, this was not its original site. It was originally built on the summit of Bembridge down but was painstakingly removed and rebuilt in its current location in the 1860s to make way for Bembridge fort. The monument was built in memory of the Earl of Yarborough, Charles Anderson Pelham. Quite a prominent figure on the Island in his time, he was one of the founders of The Royal Yacht Squadron. His son was known for having a bit of a gambling habit and is where the term a Yarborough in bridge is derived from after he bet ridiculous odds on a rubbish hand.

Culver cliff
Yarborough monument
Yarborough monument
Field of gold

Ashey Seamark

From here I had just one more monument to see, so I headed down from Culver and ran back the way I came and through Brading. I needed to climb up Brading down and head towards Ashey.

I’d seen this strange triangular structure many times as I drove along Ashey Road, but I’d never seen it up close and I had no clue what it was, so I thought that now would be a good chance to take a look.

Ashey Seamark is on the summit of Ashey Down. It is a triangular structure erected in 1735 during the reign of George II by the Trinity Board, and guides the navigation into St. Helen’s Road at Spithead.

So now I know. Not quite as impressive as I’d hoped, but the cows that surrounded it looked quite happy with it and were quite perplexed by my appearance.

Ashey Seamark
Ashey Seamark

All I needed to do now was run to Havenstreet where Caroline was waiting to pick me up. The last few miles didn’t seem as bad as previous marathons, but I was taking my time so that probably helped. A combination of not knowing where I was going, big bloody hills and pains everywhere, kept me from breaking any records today. But it made it more pleasant, not a word I’d normally associate with marathons, but in this case, it was quite enjoyable to explore and visit some monuments along the way.

Once at home, Caroline handed me a white box. Inside was a crown made of olive. This little beauty was made by Craig Ratcliff, a very talented landscape designer, he has a company called CAR Gardens, so it seemed fitting for him to make this. He told me that Olive crowns were originally presented to the Greek Olympians. The crowns would be laid upon a gold table before presenting to the Olympians. He had lined the box in gold and it had the number 38 cut into the lining and some of the leaves. Bloody genius, I love it. Could have done with it after the Athens Marathon.

Olive crown
olive crown







I am running these marathons to raise money for Mind. If you like what I’m doing and would like to donate you can go to my Just Giving page below.

Edible medal

37. Father's Day Marathon

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37. Father's Day Marathon

21st June 2020.

Going across on the floating bridge

After finishing a marathon I’m generally in a completely drained state, a bit like one of those pink bunnies that don’t have Duracell batteries. I sit in bed wrapped in a blanket, trying to warm up, sipping on water. It’s never a pretty sight. But that’s where I am right now, dog by my side trying to figure out where to start on this week’s journal entry.

Today is Father’s Day, it’s also the summer solstice, so I had two options for where to go for today’s route. Option 1, to plot a route that would take me back through my journey as a father. Option 2, to run to Mottistone Long Stone for the dawn of the summer solstice. The problem with option 2 is that the forecast was terrible for early morning and the likelihood of seeing a sunrise was pretty slim. Plus it would mean a really early start and  I wasn’t keen on that idea.

So as a compromise I thought I’d get up early and do a Father’s Day route. The alarm shattered my sleep at about 6. It was pouring down, so I went back to sleep and woke up with a jolt at 8 am.

My route required me to go across on the floating bridge from west to East Cowes, so I checked the Floaty Finder App only to find that it wasn’t running! So I hastily replotted the route via the cycle track. I tried a few times but couldn’t make it the correct route. I did a quick double-check of the Floaty, only to see it was running now. The original plan back on.

Once at the Floaty, I was told that it was now compulsory to wear masks! I’d completely forgotten. Luckily a kind lady gave me a mask to wear, so I was back on track.

Marathon 37 Route

The route

My route needed to go out towards Ryde as this was where my journey as a father started. Sadly it wasn’t a smooth journey. My first location was Ashey Cemetery. Our son Zak was born on the 15th of January 1993. I’d literally just graduated and had recently started working for a small design agency. That year turned out to be the worst year of my life and has had a massive effect on me ever since. Our son died that September of a rare genetic disorder. I find it hard to visit the cemetery, so I haven’t been there for a while. But I wanted to go today.

The cemetery is in a peaceful location, out of the way from everything, overlooked by Brading down. No noise, other than the sound of bird song and the occasional passing train from Havenstreet. Though not today. As I ran closer I felt a tightness in my chest, concerned by what state I would find. It had been such a long time since we were last there. Life gets in the way. I didn’t need to worry as nature had taken over. The cemetery was full of beautiful wildflowers.

Me, Caroline and Zak
Me and Zak

From Ashey I needed to head back to Newport. My route took me through the most beautiful countryside, through the hills and fields. I hadn’t run this way before and I was pleased to do it. Do you ever sit in a car and look out at the countryside and wonder what it would be like to just get out and explore? I do quite often, so it’s great to actually be doing it.

Once over Brading down, I headed down an overgrown path that would come out at Arreton. I did the usual bumbling around in fields trying to find my route. At one point a baby fox crossed my path. I froze so that I could watch it for a while.

Once through Arreton I found a path that would take me up to St George’s Down. This route was turning into something rather nice, the sun was shining and the Isle of Wight really was looking amazing.


The next destination to get to was our first house in Newport. We bought it for £34,000 and spent a few years doing it up. This was where we had our beautiful daughter Ella. Well, she wasn’t born there, but where she spent her first year. She was born in the maternity ward at St Mary’s on the 22nd of November 2000.

By now I was starting the usual struggles of running a marathon, hampered more by a bad back, this was slow going. The hills of the Isle of Wight don’t let up though. I pushed on up Horsebridge Hill towards Northwood where my next location was. Northwood Primary School. Ella started at the nursery there before moving into the main school. It was such a lovely little school for her to start at, and she often says how much she enjoyed her time there.

31 Clarence Road
St Mary's Hospital Maternity Ward
Northwood Primary school

I was at about 18 miles by this point and still needed to make up some distance rather than just heading straight back into Cowes, although that was very tempting. So my route went down Pallance Lane and then up Rew Street towards Gurnard. My friend Guy had offered to join me as I passed his house. He greeted me with a cup of water, which was like nectar as I’d managed to drink all the water I was carrying. I’d like to say we ran the last few miles at a good pace, but I was done, so we slowly shuffled along and chatted. It was so good to have him along for the support and for the company.

My next stop was to go and see my own Dad. I couldn’t do a run like this without doing that. This whole lockdown thing hasn’t been easy on him. He’s missing the pub 😊

The last few miles went along the seafront into Cowes. We were amazed by the number of people out and about. A complete contrast to a couple of weeks ago. Once at the Parade I needed to make a stop at Slab Fudge, the best fudge shop on the Island, if not the world. Not to buy fudge, but to see my daughter Ella. She’s working there while not at University. I know every father says they have the best kids, but she really is brilliant. We’re so proud of the woman she’s become. Clever, courteous, and funny, with strong opinions and beliefs. She’s impossible to argue with because she always wins, and she’s great company. It’s been nice having her back from Brighton, spending lockdown at home. I think it’ll hit us when she goes back for a new term.

Me and my Dad
Me and Ella
Me and Ella

Guy stuck with me until I was back home and then continued on to hopefully have a better run. At home, I was greeted by the dog and Caroline put a paper crown on my head and passed me a little black box. I love the intrigue of these medals from friends. I opened it up, inside was a brilliant homemade biscuit medal with a very flattering portrait of me iced on the top. This one was courtesy of the lovely Jaime and Ollie Bennet. They have a Vegan restaurant called Tansy’s Pantry. The food is amazing, so this was a real treat to tuck into. It didn’t last long and tasted amazing 😋

Edible medal







I am running these marathons to raise money for Mind. If you like what I’m doing and would like to donate you can go to my Just Giving page below.

Seaclose Park

36. The Isle of Wight Festival Trail Marathon

50/50 marathons

36. The Isle of Wight Festival Trail Marathon

14th June 2020.

The start selfie

This weekend was originally planned to be one of my allocated weekends off. I’d set aside 2 weekends in the year to not run. The first because of the Isle of Wight Festival. And the second in July for the Rhythm Tree Festival. I find running marathons and going to festivals generally don’t work well together! But of course, both these events have been canceled, no surprises there. 2020 is rapidly turning in to the year that never was.

I could obviously stick to the plan and have a break, lord knows I need it after last week’s marathon. If I did I would still be on track to complete the challenge within the year. I did have a forced break earlier in the year when Storm Ciara put a stop to everything. Apart from that, it’s been a marathon every week since the first one on October 6th last year.

Instead of taking the weekend off, I decided to do a little trail that would take in the sites of each of the Isle of Wight Festivals. Kind of like a pilgrimage to each of these sacred sites. In 1968, the first festival happened at Ford Farm near Godshill. In 1969 it was Woodside Bay near Wootton. And then in 1970 (the year I was born), Afton Down near Freshwater. And then the current site, Seaclose Park in Newport. I’ve plotted a route that should visit each of these sites, or as near as possible.

For the early part of my life on the Isle of Wight, the festival didn’t exist. It was simply one of those mythical happenings from the past that seems unbelievable that it actually happened. I couldn’t imagine how amazing it must have been to see the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and The Doors, right here on my doorstep. But, following the festival in 1970, an act was put in place that would put a stop to mass gatherings of over 5000 people. This act and the reluctance of some of the Island’s older population was a big buzz kill for most of my formative years. There were several attempts to resurrect the festival, but nothing that ever stuck, or came anywhere close. Until 2002.

John Giddings is our savior

2002 was the first year of the newly resurrected festival. Organised by John Giddings, this had the promise to be the real deal. I clearly remember the anticipation that surrounded the build-up beforehand. Rock Island was a one-day festival held at Seaclose Park. For the first time, since 1970, we were to be treated to some world-class acts playing live on our little Island. The lineup didn’t blow me away, but it was certainly not to be missed. the Charlatans, Robert Plant, Starsailor, and The Coral were the main acts. It was a brilliant day. It was nowhere near capacity, so it had a very laid back atmosphere. I clearly remember being sat to the right of the main stage and watching Robert Plant do his thing, thinking how amazing, that’s Robert Plant up there and I haven’t had to pay a fortune in travel to see him.

Fast forward 18 years and we have been lucky enough to have seen most of the world’s biggest bands and musicians, right here on the Island. The Isle of Wight Festival is now a firm fixture amongst a now very busy, festival calendar.

It’s easy to forget how lucky we are to have this festival. I often think it’s taken for granted. Missing it this year has given me time to reflect on exactly that. Each year we wait in anticipation towards the end of the year when the lineup begins to be announced. Some years you get lucky and see a favourite or two on the list, some years there’s just nothing that floats your boat. Either way, you are guaranteed to see something that you’ll be blown away by.

I can only imagine how disappointing it must be for the organisers when they finally announce the headliners and they just get a cool reception on social media. It must feel like an impossible task. One year you get a rock legend like Paul McCartney and people complain because he’s over the hill (apparently), then another year you get someone like the Chemical Brothers and people complain because surely they’re not a festival act? You can never please everyone.

I’ve only ever missed one year, 2013. I’ve regretted it ever since. Ok, I may not like Bon Jovi, but it’s still Bon Jovi, in my back yard. I’ve vowed not to miss another, because I know that, even if I don’t like the headliners, I’m guaranteed to find something on the other stages and I always find a band that I’ve never heard of who then turn out to be a new favourite. Apart from the music, it’s just a great excuse to drink far too much in a field with friends, and I’m really missing that this year. So, as some form of conciliation, I thought I’d do a run that would pay homage to the Isle of Wight Festival.

The route

The route

I’d plotted the route out numerous times, but it always came in over 28 miles and I really don’t want to run further than I need to. I had hoped to be able to go over on the floating bridge to East Cowes and start there, but I needed to lose a couple of miles, so I coaxed Caroline out of bed to give me a lift.

Wootton, the second Isle of Wight Festival – 1969

I started in Whippingham and headed down through Brocks Copse. This comes out in Wootton at a road that leads down to Woodside Bay. This was the site of the second Isle of Wight festival in 1969. Bob Dylan was a major coup for the organisers as he chose the Isle of Wight over Woodstock. Thousands of people flocked from all over the world to see him play. Also on the lineup was Free, Joe Cocker, Family, the Moody Blues among many others. Although the Beatles never played here, some of them turned up to see Bob Dylan. I was expecting to see some kind of plaque or sign to say where it was, but I ended up running around paths and taking pictures of random fields in the hope I was in the right area.

Woodside Wooton
Woodside, Wooton
Woodside Wooton

Seaclose Park, Newport – the current festival location

My daughter had put together a brilliant Isle of Wight Festival playlist on Spotify, of some of the past festival acts. I was loving listening to it as I continued on to Newport. It reminded me of the huge variety of bands that have played over the years.

My next location was the current site of the festival, Seaclose Park. The approaching fields are left overgrown, full of sheep. Rather than the usual hordes of revelers. Running up into the main field felt quite strange. Normally you’d be greeted by a wall of sound and a visual feast of bars, food stalls, amusement rides, and of course, the main stage looming over swathes of people. Instead, I saw a couple of people walking dogs and a vast empty space.

I’ve lost count of the amazing bands that have graced the main stage and the surrounding other stages. I’ve been spoilt. So many memories yet I find myself forgetting some. The playlist acted as a great reminder of just how spoilt we have been. I brought a can of lager and cracked it open to toast the festival organisers and all those memories. It was 10 am, is that too early for a beer? It felt good.

Seaclose Park
Seaclose park

Ford Farm, near Godshill – the site of the first Festival in 1968

I couldn’t dwell too much at Seaclose, the clock was ticking and I had 2 more sites to get to. I plowed on towards Godshill to see where it all started. The first festival, organised by Ron and Ray Foulk, took place on 31 August – 1st September 1968. The Headliners were Jefferson Airplane.

Other big names in the line up were Arthur Brown, The Pretty Things, Plastic Penny, Smile, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Fairport Convention. About 10,000 people attended. Once again I came to a field at Ford Farm and blindly took a photo, hoping that it wasn’t too far off of the correct location, there was no sign so it’s difficult to say, unless you were there. I feel like there should be something put in place to commemorate these festival sites as a big part of Isle of Wight heritage.

FordFarm Lane
Ford Farm

Afton Down – the site of the 1970 festival

I didn’t linger at Ford Farm as I was getting strange looks from a lady who I presume lives there. Besides I had the biggest chunk of the run, from Ford Farm all the way to Freshwater. So far my route planning had been fairly solid, apart from getting lost in a field and being shouted at by a farmer to get off his land. I scuttled off back in the direction I’d come from.

The route towards Freshwater was mainly tiny little roads, so was nice and quiet, allowing me to sing along to the playlist, safe in the knowledge that no one could hear me. I feel bad for the poor cows and sheep that might have been subjected to my tuneless warblings.

Once through Shorwell I took a turn that would take me up onto Tennyson Trail. The hill was relentless and drained every drop of energy that might have been there. It was a route into the trail that I’d never done before, hard work, but as always with this trail, worth the climb.

between Ford Farm and Freshwater
tennyson trail

Once up at the top I settled into the last few miles along this familiar route, in fact, I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve run it. The thing to keep in mind with the Tennyson Trail is that it’s not flat. It’s what you might describe as undulating. So where there’s a down, there is an up to hurt that little bit more. It was slow going.

Along my way towards Freshwater, I passed a dead lamb, not the best way to finish up a run, but it did give me an excuse to utter the immortal words ‘are you the farmer?’ The poor unsuspecting man the comment was aimed at clearly had never seen Withnail and I, he wasn’t the farmer, but assured me he would pass on my message about the lamb.

My run finished up at the golf course in Freshwater. I looked out over Afton Down and tried to imagine what it must have looked like. This event was held between 26 and 30 August 1970. Attendance has been estimated by the Guinness Book of Records to have been 600,000 or even 700,000! The lineup was a who’s who of the biggest acts of the time. Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Chicago, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, the Who! The list goes on. My God, it must have been a sight.

But this was the straw that broke the camels back and put an end to proceedings, until 2002.

I still had a walk to get to Freshwater Bay where Caroline was waiting. I tried to find a better view over Afton but was shouted at by a man playing golf. Fair point, I didn’t want to end the day with a golf ball to the head.

Before leaving Freshwater, I had one more stop. There’s a place called Dimbola Lodge where a statue of Jimi Hendrix stands in commemoration of the 1970 festival, I had to get a selfie.

Once home I was handed a medal, this time supplied by my very own Dad, from an event I didn’t even know he’d done. A nice little treat to end this 36th marathon. Thanks Dad ☺️

Afton Down
On the way to Freshwater
Dimbola Lodge, Jimi Hendrix statue
Medal time

Thanks for the memories

So, to John Giddings and your team who work tirelessly each year to curate a weekend of incredible music and memories that last a lifetime. You’ve been missed this year and I, for one, am looking forward to next year and many more years to come.


Seaclose Park







I am running these marathons to raise money for Mind. If you like what I’m doing and would like to donate you can go to my Just Giving page below.

Marathon 35, view from the top of the downs

35. The Roughest Runner Marathon

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35. The Roughest Runner Marathon

7th June 2020.

Marathon 35, me and Caroline at the start

I’m getting a bit paranoid, last week was the Massive Anchor Marathon, now this week it’s the Roughest Runner Marathon! The name this week comes from the lovely Tracey and Mark Wozencroft. I’m assuming that they mean roughest as something that is a bit badass, rather than a comment on my appearance? Lockdown hasn’t been kind so it may well be the later. I won’t dwell on it 😳

Today I should have been running the River Meon Marathon, organised by Rural Running. You guessed it, canceled. This week the cancellations continued. An event called The Hampshire Hoppit can now only be run as a virtual marathon, or run in next year’s event. I was quite looking forward to this as it sounded like a good one, well, as good as any marathon can be anyway. I’m just watching them all get canceled. Now the ones that had been postponed until later in the year are also starting to get canceled. Not much hope for any organised marathons taking place this year.

I have spent this entire week continuing the head in the sand tactic, completely in denial that I had to run another marathon at the weekend. I’ve actually been feeling quite low about the whole thing, but it’s likely that could be caused by a heap of different things. Take your pick, there’s the whole Coronavirus lockdown thing, that’s affecting people in ways we never imagined, on top of that the way certain influential people are making up the rules as they go along without consequences. Our business, like untold many, has been massively affected. The craziness of the racial tension following the brutal killing of George Floyd. It’s unbelievable that after so many years we still find ourselves in a world where racism is still very much on the agenda! The list goes on. This is nothing to do with running of course, but these things affect people massively. For some people, it’s like water off a ducks back. For others, myself included, it’s very hard to not be affected, so it’s been one of those weeks.

The dark passenger (not in a weird Dexter way!)

Running these marathons for Mind has been a very personal journey. In some ways running a marathon is like living with depression, bear with me here, I don’t mean to get all somber, but I feel it’s relevant.

Some days you run and feel fine, for a while at least. But ultimately you get to the point where you feel that you can’t carry on. Your brain becomes the enemy and starts playing all sorts of tricks with you. ‘Give up, it’s easy’. ‘You’re rubbish, look at you shuffling along, it’s pathetic to look at’. ‘Go on, stop, sit down there on the grass and lie down. The pain will stop if you just give up’. But ultimately the aim is to carry on, run past that, ignore the demons as best you can because eventually, they will become quiet. For a little while at least. Until the next time, and there is always a next time.

For me running is a defense, it helps. Everyone has a thing that they do and it’s so important to have that thing, whatever it is, especially in the weirdness of now. You may not even realise how much things affect you, until one day you just don’t want to get up. The simplest things become impossible and you feel completely on your own. The thing is, you’re never on your own. If I’ve learned one thing from this marathon challenge is that I have an amazing circle of family and friends there to pick me up when I need it. Without that, I wouldn’t be here at marathon 35. The work that Mind is doing to support people when they need it is crucial, especially now, so I’m proud that I can do this to help them.

Well, that escalated!

So, today I went for a run. A familiar route, but it wasn’t bad. And an added bonus was that the ever-supportive Guy Boorman joined me on his bike for the first 9 miles. Could have done with it at the end but that could go wrong, let me elaborate.

A few years back I was running the Isle of Wight Marathon and was actually doing ok. 20 miles in and I was averaging a good pace that could give me a sub 3:30 finish. The last 6 miles to go and the pace obviously dropped off. Guy pulled up alongside me at about Porchfield and I remember just feeling empty, I had nothing left in the tank, even with Guy there to support me. I got to Bunts Hill and just couldn’t go any further, 4 miles to the finish but I knew I had to stop. To cut a long story short, I ended up being rushed to hospital in an ambulance, I was completely unresponsive. I spent the afternoon on a drip! Not much fun, but I know that it shook Guy a bit, so probably best that he joined me at the start when I feel Ok.

Marathon 35, me and Guy

Where was I?

Today’s route went out along the seafront to Gurnard and on towards Newport via Rew Street and Nokes Common. A quick cut in towards Parkhurst Prison and up Camphill. From here we joined Forest Road for a bit before turning towards Carisbrooke. There’s a little road called Nodgham Lane that leads to a path that keeps going up until you find yourself on the downs. Guy left me at this point to continue his cycle at a better pace.

Downs Lane is a long uphill trail, it’s just a slog, but once at the top and heading along the Tennyson trail towards Brighstone, it makes the slog worthwhile. This is where the Isle of Wight shows you what it’s got. Beauty in abundance, rolling hills, and a patchwork of greens. In the distance, the white cliffs of freshwater surrounded by a sea so blue that it looks unreal.

Marathon 35, climbing up onto the Tennyson Trail
Marathon 35, Poppies on the Tennyson Trail
Marathon 35, Tennyson Trail

I came off the downs and headed past Chessell Pottery and headed on towards Shalfleet. The route that I’d plotted took me out along some quiet Lanes rather than along the main road. I diverted slightly to follow what looked like a footpath towards Shalfleet, only to find that it was really overgrown with nettles, thorns and God knows what else to spike and scratch me.

Nevertheless, I plowed one. I got to an impasse and then ran around like an idiot trying to find a route out. By now I was about 19 miles in and, you guessed it, I was done. After lots of backtracking, swearing, and pleading with my phone to show me another route, I saw a gate. There was hope. The only thing is there was a huge pile of black bags full of manure to negotiate! I climbed over it and found the path.

Onwards towards Shalfleet and home

If anyone has taken part in the Isle of Wight Marathon you’ll be familiar with these last 6 miles. Through Porchfield, up the notorious Bunts Hill. Legs like lead, you trudge uphill and down, followed by a few more hills until you reach the final barrier, Pallance Road. This hill never stops. It’s not necessarily steep, but it sure does sting.

My route finished nearly at the top of Pallance, where yet again I was saved by Caroline to avoid walking the last couple of miles home. 35 down. Only 15 more to go. Woo🎈 (that’s the party I promised myself last week!)

At home, Caroline handed me a gold box with a collage of dubious photos of me on top and the words ‘Neils Marathon survival kit – from the Wozzers’. The Wozzers being the ever-lovely Mark and Tracey Wozencroft. Inside was everything I need to sort me out post-marathon. Can of beans, a big pack of vegan crisps that were very yum. Ibuprofen, massage oil, and an alcoholic muscle rub that was basically Sambuca. There was even some new elastic to stop my shorts from falling down. However, even after doing 35 marathons, I’m only half a stone lighter and still have a wobbly gut!

There was also a medal that Tracey got from doing the Rough Runner! Amazing. These are the best things about doing this challenge, I absolutely love it 😍

Marathon 35, survival kit
Marathon 35, survival kit
Marathon 35, survival kit
Marathon 35, Medal







I am running these marathons to raise money for Mind. If you like what I’m doing and would like to donate you can go to my Just Giving page below.