Noel's Beachy Head
Our intrepid club treasurer managed something that very few of us have done recently... an event! Read his report here -
Each year for the last few years, Noel Green our club treasurer and kit man, has set himself a running
challenge. For a couple of years it was the 24-hour event at Cirencester Park and last year it was the
notorious Woolacombe half marathon followed a week later by Man vs Coast a 24 mile run from
Penzance on the Cornish south coast across to the north coast and finishing at Lands End involving
running up rivers, jumping in and out of the water and rock scrambling.
This year to celebrate his 60th birthday in October he and his partner Karen planned to run a metric
Marathon (26.2km) in Chester followed 3 weeks later by his first-ever marathon at Beachy Head.
Karen had done it before and went back on her word of “never again”. Sadly, the Chester event was
cancelled but with the support of Eastbourne Council the Beachy Head event was allowed to continue.
Beachy Head is a trail marathon with over 4000 feet of climbing. Noel chose this event deliberately
because he wanted a challenge but didn’t want to worry about posting a good time.
Here is Noel’s account.
“The weather forecast leading up to the event kept changing and we weren’t sure whether it would
be wet or dry but the one consistent message was that it was going to be very windy. They were
right! However, as we arrived at the event there was a beautiful sunrise and it looked like it might
To make the event as Covid safe as possible we were directed to holding pens where we had to wear
masks and keep 2m apart. We were in the pen for 45 minutes before being set off in waves and it
was very difficult to keep warm.
The start was about 400m away from the holding pens and we were allowed to discard our masks as
we walked to the start line.
Immediately after the start line is a very steep grassy 300m hill so I was walking after about 50
meters! Having learned my lesson from Man vs Coat the previous year, I saved energy and walked
up the steepest hills which are mostly in the first half of the race.
The race entry form asked for an estimated finish time and I’d put down 5 hours 15 minutes. I was at the halfway point in about 2:30 and the course profile looked like it would be easier in the second half so despite not having a time in mind I thought with a bit of effort I could get under 5 hours so kicked on a bit. I think that was a mistake!
By now the winds were getting even stronger and definitely reaching the 40mph + that were in the forecast.
By the time I’d got over the Seven Sisters (Rolling white chalk cliffs) my legs were really hurting and
my willpower to keep running ran out and miles 22 to 25 were mostly walked. But I was encouraged
to see that almost everyone else was walking too.
Towards the end of Mile 25, you reach the top of the final hill and thankfully the 40mph winds were
at our back. The final mile is all downhill and although the 5 hour mark had already gone there was
still the possibility of breaking my 5:15 estimated time. The finish line is at the bottom of the same
very steep hill that you start on. That sounds great but with burning quads, it hurts on the way down
My finish time was 5:13:54 so I just squeezed in and ended up being 24th out of 62 in my age group.
Karen finished in 5:30.