The Three Forts, advertised as ‘the tough one’ is in fact a cheeky mile longer than a marathon…their motto being ‘go the extra mile.’ I’ve done it a couple of times, but not for a few years, so though it was about time I went and had another go. With London and Brighton out the way, this was a good chance to run for fun, ignore the watch and chill out and enjoy the views. My previous best finish time was 4.21, and while I wondered if I could beat it…chasing times was not important and I barely glanced at my watch, which was most liberating!After the jaunts to Brighton and London earlier this month involving crazy early starts to catch buses, a 10 o’clock start felt like a massive lie-in, with the luxury of not having to shoehorn my belongings into a bag the size of a peanut! There is plentiful free parking at the start and in contrast to last week, toilet queues in single rather than triple figures!
The weather forecast could best be described as changeable, but in the end it was bright, sunny and at times almost warm but with a beast of a wind adding to the challenges off the hills! The start is friendly and low key, with the ‘gun’ being the local town criers bell. The course starts at Worthing College, soon picking up tracks and trails. Altogether it’s pretty much always either up or down, with very little flat.
After warring with wind for the first few miles, I was worried it was going to be heavy going, but a quick chat with marshals at mile 8, and fuelled by chocolate caffeine gels and banana I was on my way and into my stride, and the miles soon started to whiz by. The course couldn’t be more different to a week earlier, relentless climbs but spectacular scenery to enjoy while tackling them, and there are plenty of friendly and well stocked aid stations. The route goes over the South Downs, with a mixture of terrain underfoot. A stretch of out and back at half way gives you a chance to cheer on the other runners and check your progress against the rest of the field.
It’s one of those events that seems a shame to race, as it’s nice to take in the beautiful countryside, variety of wildlife and historical sites along the way. I love the solitude of some sections where the only sound is the birds, in stark contrast to the hecticness of London. I loved running past farms, watching the pigs snuffling and sheep grazing.
The highlight is the superb downhill finish….without doubt the only time I can get close to a sprint finish, this year surprising myself with a course pb….the wind must definitely have been with me for the second half! In a world of bling-tastic medals, this one is pretty old school, the design having not changed over the several times I have run it.
While there was no royalty to report at the finish this week, there was a huge amount of cake!
April has been a fab month of marathoning, with 3 events, all of which I’ve loved every minute.