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.