Medal 46

46. Run The Wight Marathon

50/50 marathons

46. Run The Wight Marathon

30th August 2020.

Bembridge start

Last week’s ‘Bad Idea Marathon’ left me pretty drained all week. I’ve had a few that have taken a while to shake off, but that one stuck with me all week. This made it difficult to focus on anything, least of all planning the next marathon.

So what do you do when you’ve had a whupping. Lay down in a dark room and cry is the gut instinct, but instead, I chose to take on the Walk the Wight route! Only I was going to run it. Yep, stupid I know. I have run this before. Back in 2010, I did a similar thing to what I’m doing now, only then it was 40 events and it wasn’t just marathons, it was a mix of events, triathlons, marathons, sea swims, there was even a Santa run. But one of the events was to ‘run’ the Walk The Wight route. I ran with Ritchie (same chap from last week) and if I remember rightly we both moaned about it at the time because of how hard it was. And I distinctly recall, as we sat in a pub afterward, that we said we wouldn’t be that stupid again. To this day Ritchie, to the best of my knowledge has kept his word. I on the other hand am clearly not as clever.

The decision to do the route was a last-minute panic the night before. I had run out of ideas and that was the conclusion that I came to! Truth is, I didn’t want to run at all, but with 5 marathons left to do, I just got on with it.

I remember thinking much earlier this year, how I felt I could start to relax a bit when I got to 5 left. But instead, it’s been the opposite, it strangely feels more daunting, I mean, after all, it is still 5 marathons.

The Walk the Wight route cuts literally right through the middle of the Island, from Bembridge, all the way across to the other side, finishing at Alum Bay. It’s always easy to look at a route in a map and think, ‘that’s doable’. But one thing I’m painfully aware of is just how hilly this little Island is.

From Bembridge, the hills start straight away, climbing up onto Brading Down. As always the views make up for the effort. Especially on a day like today, sunny, with a few patches of cloud. Quite windy, but it was a side wind for the entire route, not quite as energy-sapping as a head-on wind.

From Brading, I cut down through Knighton. This patch is quite lovely, a rare flat part before being thrown back into Hill territory, going through Arreton and onwards up onto St George’s Down. There were a lot of similarities on this route with last week’s. But I had run most of these paths several times by now. Variety was a thing of the past. On the plus side, I am developing a good knowledge of some of the lesser trodden paths on the Island.

Brading Down
St Georges Down

From St George’s Down, I ran around the paths that circle Newport and lead on to Carisbrooke, this is all quite hilly area, but nothing compared to the long uphill struggle up on to Tennyson Down. That path just seems to go up and up, the strange thing is that last week I ran it the other way and it seemed then that the hills were none stop. I guess it’s just fatigue, so even having to run up a slight bump feels like climbing a mountain.

There are pros and cons to running a route that you know well. On the pro side, you know where you’re going and how far you have to go. But on the con side, you know where you are and how far you have to go. In this case, I also knew exactly what was in store. Sure, there are a few downhill stretches, but whenever there’s a down there’s always a really horrible up to balance things out.

There’s a lot to be said for taking on routes that you don’t know anything about. You have no clue what’s in store, so you can bumble on, safe in the knowledge that you have no knowledge of the route, every uphill or downhill is completely new. Mentally, I find that a much better place to be. Ignorance is bliss.

So yes, the Tennyson trail is littered with hills and the downhills are no easier as by then, everything hurts. One thing that most marathon runners will agree upon is the pain of the down stretches are often worse than going up.

But of course, this trail saves its secret weapon right until the end. After heading down past the golf course and through Freshwater Bay, the real sting in the tail looms. The climb up to the Tennyson monument. I struggle just walking up here, especially when I’m over 24 miles in.

Once at the monument, I toyed with the idea of sitting down to catch my breath, but as luck would have it, the monument was surrounded by tourists and walkers. I stumbled on, safe in the knowledge that the last stop at Alum Bay wasn’t far. I could have taken on another hill and gone down from Headon Warren, but instead, I took the much easier section around that last hill, much more civilised. Plus I was running on fumes, why make it any harder after a route like that?

Tennyson Trail looking towards Freshwater Bay
Tennyson Monument

I had arranged for a pick up from Caroline at Alum Bay. But it was so busy, the queue for the car park was backed up quite away. My brother was down for the day with his boys and I had hoped to meet them all there, but there was no chance. I’d completely forgot that it was a bank holiday and it was likely to be busy.

Once in the safety of home, showered and feeling a bit more human, Caroline handed me a box, emblazoned with the number 46. Inside was another amazing hand made medal, a gold star with the number 46 on it. This was made by my good friend Alex Hedley. I may not enjoy the marathons themselves, or at least the last few miles, but I really look forward to the secret medal at the end.

4 more to go! But what’s really nice is that I have a surprise week off next week. I had figured that I only had two weeks that I could miss to still do it within the year, but apparently I was wrong. I’m hoping this extra week will give me the much-needed rest to complete this thing on October 4th.

The donations to Mind are now just over £3600! This is amazing. There is still enough time to try and hit £5000 if I can. 😁

Finish at Alum Bay
46 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.

Sign to the Longstone and Mottistone Down

45. Bad Idea Marathon

50/50 marathons

45. Bad Idea Marathon

23rd August 2020.

I’ve had many bad ideas in my life. This weekend’s marathon was just another one of those. The Bad Idea Marathon is basically a rerun of what should have been Marathon 44, but the heat got the better of me then and I pulled out at 17 miles. Having now run it, I can safely say that it wasn’t just the heat, but the route itself that caused me so much discomfort.

It’s easy to plot a route. I have an app that does it, all I need to do is draw a line and it cleverly snaps into a path or road. Then I blindly follow it! What it doesn’t do is alert me when I’ve chosen a stupid route. That would be a good feature.  This has led to many a pickle!

Originally when I plotted the route I was doing it as a night run and visiting apparently haunted locations of the Isle of Wight. That was the only criteria. However, if I’d have looked closer I would have seen that the route had climbs up onto St George’s Down, then Chillerton Down, followed by Mottistone Down and finally Tennyson Down! That’s a lot of climbing. Fine on fresh legs, but my legs are far from fresh. To put it into context, if my legs were fruit, they would be the bananas that you only use for making banana bread because they are essentially mush wrapped up in a brown skin! Yes, I know that bananas aren’t fruit, but you get what I mean?

On the plus side, it wasn’t a hot day, it was rather windy in fact. But I had the pleasure of the company of my good friend and fellow marathon runner Richie Harvey. He met me at the 10-mile mark, ready and raring to run the last 16 miles with me.

I made a slight alteration to the route from the last time I attempted it. I wanted to run from home so needed to take off a few miles. I didn’t do the section that goes along the downs road to Knighton. Instead, once I got to the end of Burnt House Lane, I turned right to Arreton and then joined a little path that goes up to the top of St George’s Down. Up here you get a great view that takes in the Arreton Valley and across Newport. Strangely there was a patch that had a couple of burnt out cars sat there. Not sure if this was a place where they do stock car racing or if they were just the remains of stolen joy ride cars? Either way, it gave the landscape a bit of a post-apocalyptic mad max sort of vibe!

Not far from the burnt out cars there’s a turning that takes you down a very steep section past Blackwater Quarry and then onto Blackwater itself. I’d arranged to meet Ritchie here. It was great to see him grinning at me as I approached. I hadn’t run with him for a while. We were supposed to be taking part in the Bruges Marathon together in October, but the current travel restrictions make this unlikely to happen.

St Georges Down

Normally, running with someone is a great way of keeping your mind off of the miles, and this was certainly the case for the first few miles. But it wasn’t long before I realised that I was struggling.

Chillerton down was the next uphill struggle of the route. I remember this well from the last time I tried it. I didn’t like it much that time either. The good thing with these climbs is that once you get to the top you can catch your breath and look around at the surrounding countryside, before plodding on to the next hill.

The last time I was at the top of Chillerton down it was dark and I got lost in a cornfield being freaked out at the slightest moth that brushed past me. This time I could clearly see where I went wrong. Onwards through Shorwell. From here we had a few miles of road, through Limerstone and Brighstone. By now I was in a lot of discomfort, my pace was sluggish at best. The wind was against us, making slow going, even slower. I was feeling bad for Ritchie as it was such slow going, he assured me it was no problem.

Running up onto Chillerton Down

Once through Brighstone, we headed on to Mottistone where we went back off road and up onto Mottistone Down. There’s a little path alongside Mottistone manor that winds its way up. By day, this is a lovely walk, by night, this is spook central. Once at the top of this path you come out into an opening and there stands Mottistone Longstone. There is much conjecture about the goings on and history of the stones. The two stones are said to be symbolic of good versus evil. Growing up, there were always rumours of weirdness happening at the longstone, sacrifices, witchcraft and evil doings. In reality, it was a Neolithic burial site. This probably fuelled some of the stories you hear to this day. All that being said, it’s a nice place to go and have a walk around, but maybe just in daylight.

This was the turning point, now it was just a case of getting to the finish in Carisbrooke. I was not in the best of places, but tried my best to ignore how I was feeling. We trudged on, eventually coming out onto the delightfully named, but horribly steep, Strawberry Lane. By now I was at 18 miles. I was done. I kept on having to stop to walk, my legs were in agony and my Achilles felt like they were on the verge of snapping. I really thought I was going to fail at this route, again!

Once at the top of Strawberry Lane I had a decision, I could stop and get picked up, or I could continue up onto Tennyson Down, with the knowledge that once up there, there would be no pickup point until Carisbrooke, which was the end of the route anyway. So I moaned about it and trudged on grimly, knowing that I was committed.

Mottistone Longstone

The last few miles were nothing short of pitiful. I did a run-walk combination. My feet felt like lead, I could barely lift them to dodge stones in the path. I was dizzy and nauseous. It’s fair to say, I wasn’t enjoying myself here. I came to the conclusion a while back that I really don’t like marathon running, and frankly, I’m not very good at them. Today just cemented my feelings.

I won’t dwell on this one any longer. As I write this journal entry I’m not feeling too groovy. I feel like the teabag that’s been used to make several cups of tea on a building site. Washed out and squeezed of every drop of anything that was good.

Caroline came to the rescue (again). Once home I collapsed in a heap on the bed and fell asleep. I eventually woke up again a couple of hours later. Caroline gave me this week’s medal, this time from Jodie and Peter Wilmott. It was a felted version of our dog Winnie. A brilliant likeness and another fantastic addition to my collection of amazing homemade medals.

Felted Winnie medal
Winnie with the 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.

in the tunnel

44. Bath Two Tunnels Marathon

50/50 marathons

44. Bath Two Tunnels Marathon

16th August 2020.

Socially distanced start

This week’s marathon was an actual proper event. None of this skipping around the Isle of Wight, I actually had to go somewhere, on the ferry, off of the Island to take part in the Bath Two Tunnels Marathon. My first proper event since Marathon 23, the Endurancelife Sussex Marathon.

Technically this is marathon 44.5. Last Saturday I set off to do the usual weekend marathon, but it didn’t really go to plan!

The temperatures last week were up to 34 in places. It was sweltering. The kind of heat you expect when you get off the plane in a hot country. Really humid, leaving you drained and sat in a pool of sweat just for thinking about doing something.

My plan was to set off early evening and then run in the cool of the night. Only there wasn’t really a cool of the night to be had! I set off from Newport at about 6:45 pm and headed on a bit of a tour of the haunted spots of the Isle of Wight. I figured that if I was going to do a night run, I should at least make it interesting.

The Island is famous for its many haunted places, it’s literally littered with ghosts and ghouls…. apparently! In my youth, I used to love going on ghost hunts with friends. We never saw anything remotely scary, but there was always someone who knew someone, who had a cousin that would say that they passed Knighton Gorges one night in 1985 and would swear blind there were griffins on top of the gate posts where there isn’t anything normally. Whenever I’ve been there it’s just the usual empty gate posts. For some reason, we loved scaring ourselves.

My route would have passed these places. Had I not bailed out early! My friend Guy ran with me for a bit. We both felt the heat. It was tough to run in. When Guy left me I was starting to struggle. It did get a little bit cooler as the night went on but I think the damage was done. By the time the light had completely gone, I found myself somewhere between Chillerton and Shorewell, lost in a cornfield, feeling rather dizzy and disoriented. I was only 17 miles in, but I knew this wouldn’t end well if I tried to push on. So I decided to call it a day and Caroline collected me. Disappointing, but definitely the right decision to make. When I got home I was suffering.

I can still complete this challenge in a year as I had 2 weeks’ spare. They are both used up now. The first week was back in February when storm Ciara hit.

The Two Tunnels 2020 event site

A socially distanced marathon

So onto this week. I’m currently on the ferry, making my way to Bath to take part in an actual marathon! After 20 weeks of running marathons on the Isle of Wight because everything had been canceled, there is finally an event taking place. This one is The Bath Two Tunnels Marathon. The event is organised by Relish Running. Like all event organisers, they have had a rough ride. But somehow they managed to get the approval for this event to take place, albeit under strict socially distanced rules. So it won’t be the same as other events, but I’m quite intrigued to see how it works and very much looking forward to a change of scenery. On the plus side, the hot weather seems to have broken a bit, so, fingers crossed there’s no need to pull out of this one?

I loved the opportunity to go on a bit of a road trip, this year was originally planned as an opportunity to travel about between races and use the camper for what it’s made for. Things haven’t worked out as originally planned, so it was a bit of a treat to get off of the Island and stay somewhere in the van.

I had booked in at a place called Pitch Perfect Camping. What a little gem of a campsite! Quite busy with families, but not unpleasantly so. It made for a nice peaceful evening.

My race didn’t start until just after 10:30, so I had the luxury of a bit of a lay-in. I woke up with a splitting headache. Not a great start. With the absence of alcohol the previous evening, I can only assume that I may be slightly dehydrated.

Once packed up, I made my way towards the race start. One of the measures in place was that no cars could park at the race start so we were directed to a park and ride where a bus would take us to the start. I was worried about getting on the wrong bus, but once on board, it was clear that everyone else on board was also going to the event.

The site itself was exactly like any other event, apart from the lack of people. They had planned the day so that different distances were spread out across the whole day, and every competitor had a designated start time. So there was never a time where there were the usual clusters of people.

When the time came for the marathon to start, everyone was called over and had to stand by cones that were laid out to ensure social distance. Masks were compulsory at this point. One by one, each runner was called up and set off at 5-minute intervals. Nothing like anything I’ve ever experienced, but essential measures for Relish Running to gain the approval to go ahead.

Devonshire tunnel entrance
Coming out of the first tunnel

Tunnel one – Devonshire Tunnel

The weather was overcast but very warm. The humidity was overpowering. I set off at around 10:30 and was already a puddle of sweat! The route was pretty simple. It had been adjusted from the usual route to avoid any possible congestion. We ran along a cycle track (familiar territory). This would have been the old railway line. The first tunnel on the route was the Devonshire Tunnel. Devonshire Tunnel is on the closed Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway mainline, between Midford and Bath Green Park railway stations, below high ground and the southern suburbs of Bath, England, emerging below the northern slopes of Combe Down village. It’s about 409 meters in length.

Entering the tunnel was pure refreshment. The air was so cool, a welcome relief from the humidity outside. Once through here there was a brief spell back out in the heat before we entered the second tunnel.

Combe Down Tunnel entrance
in the tunnel
A bridge along the Two Tunnels route

Tunnel Two – Combe Down Tunnel

Combe down tunnel opened in 1874, this 1,829-yard (1,672 m) long disused railway tunnel was once the UK’s longest without intermediate ventilation. The tunnel now forms part of the Two Tunnels Greenway walking and cycling path opened on 6 April 2013 and is the longest cycling tunnel in Britain.

Inside it is pitch black. There are lights, but they are very dim, making it hard to see anyone until they are right next to you. It’s used by a lot of cyclists, some of them bomb through without worrying about lights or any runners or walkers. Most are quite courteous though. As you get near the middle of the tunnel you can hear violin music. It’s oddly spooky! It’s a very long tunnel, it does feel like you’re never getting out, especially by the last lap.

Once through the tunnel, it wasn’t too far before the turn around point. Then we headed back along the same track. In total, we had to complete 4 laps to complete the marathon. I normally hate lapped marathons, but I came to relish going through the cool of the tunnels. I actually felt like it gave me a bit of a surge of energy.

It’s not the most picturesque of routes as you’re either in a tunnel or running along a cycle track. I believe under normal circumstances the marathon route takes in a bit of the surrounding countryside. But the thing that makes this event unique, are the tunnels. I would certainly recommend this event to anyone looking for a summer marathon. The organisation is superb and the marshals are so encouraging along the trail. One marshal, in particular, was lovely and really gave everyone a lot of encouragement. I swear it was the actress Olivia Colman! If not she really did look and sound like her.

This may be my last opportunity at a proper event before this challenge is done, so I made sure I enjoyed it, well, as much as you can enjoy running a marathon!

The finish line
Finished, literally

More medals

Once home, I had the extra joy of being handed another homemade medal from my lovely friend Beverley-Jo Fisher. This was supposed to be for last week, but I blew it, so I was so chuffed to receive it today. There were two packages handed to me by Caroline. I love the intrigue of trying to guess who it might be from. Inside one box was a hand-drawn slate medal with a rather worn looking shoe drawn on to it, quite apt as I have really been going through the running shoes, in fact, I must get a new pair. The second was a picture disc of a 7″ single of Hole in my Shoe, by Neil From the Young Ones! Thank you Bee, I love them both and the lovely message in the card. Where on earth did you manage to get that picture disc from?

Neil Hole in my shoe







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.

The finish

43. Ventnor Fringe / Stella Star Marathon

50/50 marathons

43. Ventnor Fringe / Stella Star Marathon

2nd August 2020.

The start

This week should have seen the Ventnor Fringe taking place, but of course, it’s yet another casualty of 2020. So it was suggested that I could do a Ventnor Fringe Marathon. Fine in principle, but one of the noticeable features of Ventnor is that it is very hilly, so I wanted to avoid doing laps around Ventnor, that would be ridiculous. so I plotted a route from Cowes that would cut through the centre of the Island and then finish with a lap around Ventnor.

It’s been quite warm over the past few days, so to avoid a repeat of the Wonder Woman Dash, I set off at 7 am when it was a bit cooler. I started with a nice seafront run to Gurnard, I never tire of this route. In Gurnard, I was joined by Guy on his bike. He brought his drone along to try and get some footage. It was great to have him along. We went down the cycle track and then continued on the track from Shide. I have done this route many times, but I do appreciate the flat, traffic-free path. Guy zoomed off ahead to get the drone fired up. I caught up with him around Merstone station. It’s really quite lovely around there at the moment, the cornfields look great.

en route to Ventnor

Guy stayed with me to ensure I found the correct path that would take me in the direction I needed to go. For some reason, this turn off has been somewhat elusive to me, so I always miss it and end up running to Sandown instead. Once I was pointed in the right direction he headed back home, leaving me at the start of the Worsley Trail.

I’ve used this route before, most recently on the Monumental Marathon. It’s a nice route but the hills are relentless and quite steep. The trail goes up behind Appledurcombe and onto Stenbury Down. Right at the top is the Worsley monument and a beautiful panoramic view of the Isle of Wight. Last time I was here it was difficult to see a few feet in front of me, but today I was treated to the Isle of Wight in all its finery.

I didn’t dwell up here, it was pretty windy and I was keen to push on. On my way down the fields were full of sheep. I came across an unfortunate sheep with its head stuck in the wire fence. Poor bugger looked like it had been there for a while. I managed to stretch the wire enough for it to go free. It looked most disgruntled.

Stenbury down

From here I continued passed Nettlecombe farm, through Whitwell and then on to Niton. I wanted to tie in a visit to St Catherine’s Lighthouse as part of the route. I’ve always liked this part of the Island. I like walking the dog down there and finishing off in the Budle pub. No pub today though. I ran around the lighthouse and then back up into the road towards St Lawrence.

In 2014 there was a landslide from the undercliff that blocked the route between Niton and Ventnor. It has since been opened up for walkers or cyclists. The road itself is an idyllic route for running, picturesque, and traffic-free, a joy on a nice day like today. The surrounding fauna has taken over so the roadside is fringed by Buddleias. Loads of bees and butterflies, lovely.

St Catherines Lighthouse

Once through St Lawrence, I just needed to go around Ventnor before heading to the finish point. Sounds easy. Nope. As mentioned earlier, Ventnor is seriously hilly. With only a couple of miles to go and legs really feeling the distance, I made the mistake of going up a road called Seven Sisters Road. I should have known from the name that it wouldn’t be nice. My last attempt at running the Seven Sisters was at the Endurancelife Sussex Marathon, the last proper marathon before lockdown wiped the whole year out. Obviously this wasn’t the same, but the name should have given me a clue.

Originally the plan was to finish at Ventnor Exchange, the home of the Fringe festival,  but it was closed, so my finish was at the bandstand in Ventnor Park. It was lovely to see Caroline and a group of friends there waiting to cheer me in, such a boost. I actually didn’t feel too bad for a change and was happy to sit around and just chat.

Caroline gave me a package to open, it’s like Christmas every Sunday 😊. Inside was a plaque with a painting of our dog Winnie’s mother, Stella. She sadly passed away a year after we got Winnie, such a lovely dog. On the back, it said ‘Stella Star Marathon 43 August 2020’. This is such a nice personal gift. This was from Ben Sullivan. There was also a letter from him, I know the Charity Mind is important to him. Thank you Ben, this was such a thoughtful thing to do. There were also some beers that came along with this, very nice. I will enjoy those.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Another one down. Only 7 more to go! Still seems a lot, but then 1 marathon is enough. But I definitely feel that I’ll complete the challenge now. Famous last words, I’ll probably break a leg next week!!! There is still hope that a couple of the marathons I had booked in will still take place. The New Forest Marathon still plans to go ahead if they can get the final approval. The Bath Two Tunnels marathon, once canceled, they now have the approval to go ahead, so they just need enough runners to make it worthwhile. Quite excited as I honestly thought everything would be canceled.

I’m so pleased to see the donations for Mind on my Just Giving page are now at £3,126! This is amazing. I’d love to try and get to £5000 before this challenge is out.

The finish
Stella medal

For Stella and Paddy xxx







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.