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.