The start of Run Jurassic

49. Run Jurassic Marathon

50/50 marathons

49. Run Jurassic Marathon

26th September 2020.

The start of Run Jurassic

Total donations to Mind


In my original, pre-Covid plan, this weekend’s marathon would have been ‘Run Jurassic’, a marathon organised by White Star Running that would take on the beautiful Jurassic coast of Dorset. I was quite disappointed when this one got canceled, but I didn’t really dwell on it too long because I had a backup plan.

The Isle of Wight is famed for its Jurassic heritage. The south coast, in particular, is well known for being an excellent area to find fossils. Plus it really is a stunning coastline to run along. Back in February for marathon 15, I plotted a route that took on a portion of the south coast from Chale to Freshwater and back again. But I wanted to plot a route that took on almost the entire South Coast of the Island. Starting in Freshwater Bay and then finishing at Dinosaur Isle in Sandown. I knew it wouldn’t be an easy route and by now, after 48 marathons, I really wasn’t feeling up to it. It was quite tempting to just go for a flat ‘easy’ route, but I knew I’d be missing out. This route, although very challenging, would be spectacular.

I was feeling apprehensive as the day got closer, last weeks New Forest Marathon had taken its toll and I was still struggling with the after-effects. But I had a bunch of friends who wanted to support me along the way and this proved to be the push that I needed to get on with it and, dare I say, actually enjoy it! Yes, I did say that, and for anyone who’s followed this challenge, you’ll know that I generally don’t say that.

The start was at the Albion Hotel in Freshwater Bay. I had arranged to meet my Friend Gemma there, she joined me for some of the Wonder Woman Dash earlier in the year, and is building up to do her first marathon next year. The ever supportive Boorman’s (Guy and Julie) and of course Caroline we’re also there to see me off.

I had planned to run the entire thing wearing an inflatable dinosaur outfit! Great idea, but in practice, it turns out that I couldn’t run in it, at all! We set off at about 9 and I think we got about 100 meters when I decided to ditch the dinosaur costume. How on earth do people manage to run marathons in those rhino costumes?

Looking towards Compton Bay

The weather couldn’t have been any better, the sun was out and the Isle of Wight was looking amazing. It was quite breezy but it was behind us so pushed us along. At Brook, a friend on Gemma’s (Jo) joined us. They both had a really good knowledge of the coastal path so I didn’t have to worry about finding the best route. We chatted as we ran and the miles seemed to drift away. That first section along the military Road is very long and I was grateful for the company.

Further along the coast at Whale Chine, Jo left us but we were joined by Peter and Jodie Wilmott. Both are amazing runners, but luckily they were happy to go my pace. Shortly passed Whale Chine we were joined by Wayne Cranwell, so now there were 5 of us. It was so good to have the company.

The first big hill of the route is the one from Chale, it goes up past Blackgang Chine and then over into Niton. Thankfully we did a run-walk thing, so it wasn’t too bad. At the top, you get an amazing view looking back along the coastline to where we started at Freshwater bay.

Me, Gemma and Jo
Looking back towards Freshwater Bay
Blackgang Chine

We continued down into Niton. Thanks to Gemma’s knowledge of this trail we were almost entirely off-road on paths that I’d never run on before, so we were literally hugging the coastline. Gemma left us in Niton and we continued through some small tunnels that led down to St Catherine’s Road. Here was a little added loop around the lighthouse. We could have bypassed it and continued on to St Lawrence, but I needed a bit of extra mileage and I’m quite fond of this area.

For anyone visiting the Isle of Wight I would recommend taking a walk around here. It’s got a really rugged feel and you can easily picture stories of smugglers and shipwrecks. Plus there’s a great pub called the Buddle where you can cozy up with a pint of local ale.

Beyond Niton, we headed along the Undercliff road to St Lawrence and onwards to Ventnor via Steephill Cove. This whole area is beautiful. I was really starting to feel the miles by now, but the great company and the beauty of our surroundings was a massive boost.

Wayne left us in Ventnor, leaving Peter, Jodie and myself to run along the sea wall through to Bonchurch and up through the land slip. This area is really fitting for the Jurassic theme of the day, it looks like a set from Jurassic Park. But it is jolly hilly. I had to walk most of this section.

Niton Tunnels
St Catherines Point
Running towards Ventnor
Bonchurch Landslip

Jodie and Pete knew this route well so took us along more paths that I’d never taken before, that took us through Luccome and into Shanklin. Once in Shanklin that was it for the hills. The last few miles were all along the beach, so perfectly flat. Jodie and Pete left me at Hope Beach in Shanklin and the baton was taken by the lovely Mike Atkinson. Guy was also there to offer refreshments. I’d intended on putting the dinosaur outfit on for the last couple of miles but had second thoughts. The run had been going so well and I didn’t want to spoil it just for a photo opportunity.

Along the way, we had a surprise addition of B J Fisher, resplendent in a bright yellow top and beaming from ear to ear. I wish I’d had these guys along for all of the past marathons, it would have been far more fun. I hardly noticed the last few miles! This is unheard of. The last 6 miles are always horrible, but not today. I was tired sure, but, as I came to the end at Dinosaur Isle, I can honestly say that I actually enjoyed that marathon. The route was lovely, but more than anything, the support I had from start to finish was the icing on the cake. If I had run this route on my own I have no doubt it would have been a different story.

Waiting at the finish was Caroline and Winnie along with the whole Armfield clan. Paul has had a massive impact on the fundraising for Mind. He’s managed to spread the word out a lot further than I could ever do. Speaking of which, I just checked the total and it’s now at £4,455!!! I’m amazed. Thank you so much to everyone who has kindly donated.

Me, Mike and Bee

I actually managed a cheeky beer at the end. This is generally never the case. I did have a bit of a crash on the way back home but generally speaking, I survived Run Jurassic fairly unscathed! Once home Caroline handed me a box containing this week’s medal. This is always the best part, it’s like Christmas every weekend. Inside the box was a bell on a ribbon with number 49 on it. The bell is always rung as you enter the last lap in a race, so this was a really clever and creative link. I would expect nothing less from my friends Mark and Helen Bailey. Along with the medal itself was a t-shirt with the words ‘one more lap to go’ on the front. Thank you chaps, I love them both and will be wearing the t-shirt with pride today.

So this was the penultimate marathon before the final one next week. Originally I would have ended this challenge in Bruges, but instead, I will be running the Isle of Wight Marathon. This has always been a bit of a nemesis to me, but It feels right to be finishing where I started this thing.

Medal 49
One lap to go







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 current total is £4,455. Thank you so much to everyone who has made a donation.

New Forest Marathon signs

48. The New Forest Marathon

50/50 marathons

48. The New Forest Marathon

19th September 2020.

New Forest Marathon start

Total donations to Mind


The New Forest Marathon was canceled a while back, another victim of Covid. They hung on and hung on, getting all the necessary approvals to go ahead. It was all looking promising, but then I think there may have been a landowner who wouldn’t let it go across their land. The emails went out to say it was not going ahead. I felt for the organisers because they clearly had a bit of a ride to get all their ducks in a row. But it wasn’t to be.

But then, out of nowhere, I received an email to say it was back on! They hadn’t just given up on it, they worked like troopers to find a different location and route, all within the shortest time frame. The event was to be held on the St Giles House estate, near Wimborne.

For me, it was great to have another proper organised marathon to do, new land to explore. However, this past week hasn’t been a great week and I’ve been feeling wiped out for the entire time since last weekend’s marathon. They’ve all taken their toll, but the last few, in particular, have left me wiped out. So as I stood waiting for my race to start, I felt nothing but dread and tiredness.

To get the approval to go ahead there had to be loads of changes to how it’s usually run. There wouldn’t be a mass start, everyone was given an allocated start time. There were very few runners in the start village and everyone was keeping their distance. On the plus side, the toilets weren’t the usual massive queue to a stink fest!

New Forest Marathon race village
New Forest Marathon start area

My start was at 10:05, but it seemed they had started early. We all got called forward and directed through a funnel system to keep things single file. I was still trying to digest my surroundings and get the all-important start selfie, but before I knew it I was signaled to go.

Now, I’d like to say that I shot off like a majestic gazelle, but of course, I didn’t. I was running, of sorts, but it must have been painful to watch, it was certainly painful for me. I knew instantly that I was in for a rough one. I figured my only plan was to just keep moving forward and not to worry how slow I was going.

The course was essentially the half marathon route, only we had to go around twice. It was quite a nice course, all off-road through mainly forest trails. I wouldn’t call it hilly, but it had a few cheeky undulations that weren’t very nice.

There were no supporters along the route, but the marshals really made up for that, they were so encouraging as I passed.

I was aware literally from the start that I was struggling. I had to really work hard to keep the negative thoughts at bay. One part of me was saying to stop, you can’t finish, but there was a tiny part keeping me going, I kept reminding myself how far I’d come and that once this one was over I only had 2 to complete.

New Forest Marathon 2020
New Forest Marathon St Giles Estate

At mile 11 you run past the finish line, then you loop around a Forest for a bit before heading back to the finish to start lap two. That was harsh. I stopped in a portaloo (classy) sat down and tried to figure out a way to do this, without actually doing it. I could basically sit in that loo for a couple more hours and then jump back onto the final stretch to glory. Only there would be no glory. So I talked myself around, left the loo, and carried on. I managed another mile and a half before I came to the conclusion that I was finished. So that was it, I double backed and went to the car.

I sat there for a bit, had a drink and a peanut butter sandwich, and tried to call Caroline to tell her I was done. There was no coverage so I couldn’t get through. So I gathered my thoughts to try and figure out how I could still finish this at the Isle of Wight marathon on the 4th of October. I couldn’t think of a way! I must have only sat for no more than 15 minutes, it was such a relief to stop. But I was gutted.

I decided to carry on, so got out of the car and stumbled back to the point where I’d retired. The peanut butter sandwich had given me a bit of a boost. It took a while to get my legs working though, once you stop it doesn’t take long for the legs to seize. I guess you could say I had a second wind for a little bit, just enough to take me far enough away from the finish so that I wasn’t tempted to quit again.

The second lap was uneventful, it was just a case of gritting my teeth and pushing on as best as I could. The final hurdle was to get back around to the 24-mile mark. You could see and hear the finish as people completed their run, but I still had those final two miles! By now it was a case of running on the flat, but walking up any hills. Luckily, most of the last mile was downhill. In the distance stood The finish line, directly in front of St Giles House. This last stretch seemed to take forever. It reminded me of that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where that knight is charging towards the castle, but every time he looked up it seemed like he hadn’t got any closer!

Crossing the line was such a relief and I was so glad that I decided to continue. It’s far too easy to just give up while running a marathon.

New Forest Marathon Medal

Once I got home Caroline gave me a box to open. This is always the highlight of the marathons. I love the mystery, trying to figure out who it’s from. Inside, the box was full of delicious looking vegan treats, can’t wait to start pilling on the calories that were burned today. There was also an amazing medal, made of wood with my face etched onto it and the race number on my forehead. The finishing touch was a hand-knitted ribbon. The detail was beautiful. This was from the jolly lovely Aaron and Jo Rudd. Thank you so much guys. Such a nice way to finish the day. I will treasure it, the medal that is, I’ve already started tucking into the goodies 🐷








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 current total is £4,150. Thank you so much to everyone who has made a donation.

The Spicebus

47. The Final Charge Marathon

50/50 marathons

47. The Final Charge Marathon

12th September 2020.

The start selfie

Total donations to Mind


Last week I had a much needed week off from running. I didn’t completely stop, on Saturday I did a little 10k run and it was bliss! Just being able to do a run for the pleasure of it, with no pressure on distance was a welcome experience. I had wondered if doing these marathons would put me off of running completely, but apparently it hasn’t. It was also nice not to be walking around like I had two wooden legs.

However welcome that week off was, I still have 4 more marathons to complete the 50. I wasn’t relishing the idea of running marathon 47 at all. The break was too nice. So, as the weekend approached, so too did the anxiety. It’s fair to say that it hasn’t got any easier running these marathons. On the contrary, it’s got so much harder.

Before I started the challenge, I had it in my head that I might end up getting stronger and fitter the more I did. I genuinely thought my times would reduce, rather than get longer. This really hasn’t been the case at all. Completely the opposite. I’ve gone from feeling pretty fit and healthy to feeling out of shape with a body that aches at every step.

Last year, in preparation for this challenge, I was running between 40 to 50 miles a week, but it was generally shorter distances, apart from a 22 miler on a Sunday. So during the week I would run between 6 – 13 milers, as well as doing Kung fu twice a week, and then Sunday was always the dreaded long run. So I had a good fitness base to begin this challenge with.

Since starting the challenge I am only doing the marathon at the weekend, nothing else. When I first started I did do a couple of recovery runs in the week, but I found it was leaving me a bit stiff to run the marathon, so I decided to knock everything else on the head. In hindsight, this was the wrong decision, but it’s far too late to go back and do it again differently.

So now, when I start running I am in pain. But it’s bearable. Uncomfortable, but not to the point where I need to stop.

This week’s marathon feels like the start of the final charge, four more to go, and then I can get my weekends back. I was grateful to have some company on this one with my friend Steve Powell. Running with someone when you’re doing a long run is always better as you tend not to notice the miles so much, chatting as you go tends to be a nice diversion.

The route was essentially the route I did for my long 22-mile training runs, but with a bit added on. We started off with a long loop around Cowes and Gurnard this does involve a bit of repetition, looping back on ourselves, before eventually heading back along the seafront into Cowes. Caroline was waiting with Winnie on the green to see us as we passed.

From here we headed down the cycle track to Newport, all very familiar territory, but fairly flat. Then we ran on to Island Harbour, a quick stop for a selfie in front of the Spicebus and then on towards Fairlee Road.

9 miles in
The Spicebus

There are actually some really nice trails when you cross Fairlee Road and head straight on up. It’s all wooded areas and farmland. We went off track at one point and ended up in a field of inquisitive Cows. We had to double back and get back on track. Eventually, we headed back to the Quay in Newport. Steve left me at this point. I was really starting to suffer but still had the dreaded final 6 to endure.

As I staggered on another friend ran towards me. Glen jones was out training in preparation for a marathon and asked which way I was going and could he come along. I warned him that I was going to be very slow, but he was happy to join me to keep me company along the way which I was very grateful for. I’d ran with Glen before in Marathon 41. This turned out to be one of those rare occasions where I actually felt ok after finishing. Sadly, today wasn’t going to be a rerun of that.

We ran along the main road back towards Cowes, but to fulfill the distance I needed to take a turn towards Noke Common. This is a fairly long and isolated road and I was at the point where I could barely walk, let alone run. I stopped and had to lay down in the road. Who knew tarmac could feel that comfortable. I kept on apologising to Glen but he assured me he just wanted to keep me company and wasn’t worried that his run had been somewhat spoilt. I wasn’t great company, I was fighting off being sick, my head was spinning and my legs had long since given up.

We crossed a field that headed towards Northwood. I was done, the grass looked far too comfortable and I collapsed in a heap. I decided that I needed to stop. Glen reluctantly left me to continue his run. I assured him I was fine and that I just needed to rest for a bit.

Totally knackered at Noke Common

I think I lay there for about half an hour. The grass felt soft and the sun was warm. I was quite happy just to be still. I asked Caroline if she could come and get me, but I was still in the middle of a field somewhere, so I needed to get back to a road. The moment I tried to move I was overcome with dizziness and nausea and was sick!

Once I had time to pull myself together I actually started to feel a bit better and was able to get to my feet and start running of sorts. Caroline was waiting at Pallance Lane. I jumped in the van and had a drink. I was so close to finishing and knew I’d kick myself if I didn’t try to continue. So I got back out and started running again.

Once at home, Caroline handed me my medal. Not only did Steve run with me for 18 miles, but he and his wife Rachel also made the medal. It was in the shape of broccoli with the words ‘plant-based champ’ and marathon 47 on it, brilliant another fine addition to my collection. As well as the medal, they also gave me a box of yummy vegan fudge from their fudge shop Slab. Thank you guys, I love it, and thanks to Steve once again for keeping me company and listening to me whine!

All in all this one was probably one of the toughest, not because of the route, but basically because of my lack of physical prowess. I literally don’t have it in me to do it anymore. I now have just 3 more to complete, but I am dreading them. Next week is another proper organised event, the New Forest Marathon. So I’m hoping the fact that it is a proper event rather than one of my makeshift things, will help to carry me around, I guess we’ll wait and see.

Medal time
Tasty Slab fudge







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 current total is £3,899. Thank you so much to everyone who has made a donation.