50/50 marathons

17. The Darkstar River Marathon

26th January 2020

Another early start to take part in the Darkstar River Marathon, 6 o’clock boat out of Fishbourne, followed by a quick dash to race start in Shoreham! I looked into camping sites to stay overnight but couldn’t find any and the hotels were either booked up or too expensive, so early start it is. Should be fine though as it’s a 90 minute ish drive and the race doesn’t start until 9.

Turns out I could have got the 7 o’clock boat. Got there super quick and had loads of waiting around to do.

Today was one of those dates that I found hard to fill, so when I found the Darkstar, I saw the word marathon and just hit enter without really looking into it! If I’d have read a bit more I would have seen that it was a 28.2 mile distance, so 2 miles more than a regular marathon! The notes for the race also came with a warning that this wasn’t an ordinary marathon. It sure wasn’t.

The start/race HQ, was a little scout hut in shoreham, on the mouth of the River Adur. I was quite early so there were very few runners, but it soon filled up and soon everyone was chatting and exchanging marathon stories. It was clear that a lot of these people were serious ultra marathon nuts, so I felt totally out of my league.

There was a quick race briefing before we were turfed out in to the cold to get started. My plan was to start slow and get slower!

As you would expect, the trail followed the river the entire route. After a bleak start, it brightened up a bit and I have to say it was quite a scenic route. I always enjoy the first half of the marathon and feel quite positive, but that soon starts to slide away and turns into despair. Multiple questions running through my mind, along the lines of, what the hell are you doing, just stop and find a pub. It’s hard not to stop when everything is telling you to give up.

The trail was pretty much all flat, but the ground was so boggy so it made for slow going and really sapped the legs of all energy. I’ve had a pain in my left ankle that won’t go away, and today i was really feeling it. Along the way, there were numerous gates and styles to negotiate, some of them really slippery to get over.

By about 12 miles we were on a cycle track which made it easier going, but it wasn’t long before the turn point and back towards the bog. By now I was done for, my pace had dropped considerably and I was just hanging in there. The wind was right into the face and we were very exposed. The cold was really starting to bite, even though I had several layers on. The last few miles were really hard and painful. It was a relief to see the mouth of the river in the distance. Bit more of a run/walk and I was back to race Hq. Massive curly medal hung around my neck, then it was off to the car to try to warm up. I’m quite accustomed to sitting there and shivering so much that my glasses fall off.

All in all though, it was a good event. Well organised. Very few marshals as the route was pretty fool proof. Couple of aid stations, stocked up with all sorts of goodies. There was rumour of free beer at the end, but I wasn’t up for that. Once I had warmed up a bit I was back on the road to see if I could catch an earlier ferry. I didn’t, but the time sat waiting was used to write up my race notes.

Next week is the Portland Coastal marathon, bit nervous about this as it sounds hard. Aren’t they all?

If you’d be interested in running the Darkstar River Marathon in the future, take a look at Sussex Trail Events.


Time taken





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.