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The hills are alive with the sound of Pilgrims! SJ members take on the Farnham Pilgrim marathon

One of the more popular local running events took place on Sunday 8th September, the Farnham Pilgrims half marathon/marathon. A very picturesque route takes you through the Surrey Hills, with various members recapping their experiences below….

Lisa Hale “2019 was my 8th running of the Pilgrims Marathon, sadly I can’t quite claim to have run them all! It has always been a favourite event, having first run it at the height of my 100 marathon chasing, it’s remained in the calendar ever since! It’s one of the friendliest events you could ask for, with great support all the way round, and welcoming of all standards of runner. There is always a great turnout from local clubs, so you’re always sure to be surrounded by familiar and friendly faces.

I love the fact that it’s so close to home, there is ample free parking and toilets, and registration and baggage storage are always well manned and hassle free. The best thing of course about the event is the route, I love a hilly course and this doesn’t disappoint on that front! The views are spectacular and every year that I have taken part the weather has been fantastic. The course is challenging, but so rewarding.

One thing I have always liked about this event is the lovely little subtle and understated medal at the end, with so many ridiculous and over the top bling it’s nice to just see a little old school medal! This year to mark the 10th anniversary was a nice little wooden job, and the mug was great – seeing as the only thing I love more than running is coffee!”

Alison Jones “I did this marathon last year, and absolutely loved it, so decided to enter again, especially since it was the 10th anniversary and the course was being run backwards. So, battered and bruised from my exploits at the Maidenhead half, filled my car with SJ’s (namely my amigo’s Sharon & Andrea) plus Dave Bartlett and Nigel Evans and off we set for our VIP parking at the start/finish line.

The weather was mixed, a bit chilly but the sun was trying to come through, so it was looking like it was going to be a lovely day.  Once we had visited the toilets and sat in the car for a while it was time to get the photos taken and join the back of the start line, although we all started together it did not take long for it to be just us three girls, the amazing things about this marathon are firstly the views, although you have to get to the top of some pretty steep hills to see them, but they are worth the effort. Then the marshals, who seem to be placed every 200 meters, so no wrong turns were taken. Then finally the aid stations, you had barely finished what you had taken from the previous one then another one was upon you and after all the effort they went to with home-made brownies etc., it would have been extremely rude not to!

I must admit I preferred the route this way round, the up’s seemed less, although that could have been my imagination, and as we progressed we all seemed to recognise some of the course from last year, although all I remembered was llamas, so I was really delighted when we came upon the llama farm, I could see the funny looks I was getting from the other 2 until that point.

At approximately 18 miles or so who did we come across, loitering at an aid station, but Dave, Nigel and Lina, so that was our merry little band for the next 8 miles, we finished this wonderful marathon as a group to be met by Richard, who had a great run and we heard Lisa was at home having her tea by then, this is just such a lovely event and the weather was perfect, I suspect we will all be back again next year for another lovely day out.”

Dave Bartlett With a reputation for being one of the best trail marathons in the UK and sat on our doorstep, this event hit my diary within a day or two of Endure. Always going to be a challenge, the immensity grew when I picked up a groin strain shortly after entry. With very little in the way of running through July & August, I had no option but to face the music and try to dance! On Sunday morning I found myself in the back of a car full of seasoned marathon runners, Alison Jones (the boss), Sharon Burfield (nothings ever slow), Andrea Hatfield (the dark horse) & Nigel Evans (yes, Marathon man).

On arrival at the event there was a fantastic club spirit amongst those who had entered the full and the early arrivals for the half. Through the early stages the course started to show its true colours, roads and trails, forestry and fields it definitely kept you focused. Up and down, up and down we eventually found ourselves climbing Pilgrims Way and the road to St Martha’s church. Now, I’ve never been the religious type, I do however have to confess that I almost called a time out to go in and pray that something special through the remaining 12 miles. Fortunately, I was in the company of members of this amazing running club and have to thank Nigel & Lina Johnson for seeing me through some difficult miles along with Alison, Sharon and Andrea who dragged me through the last 4 miles and over the finish line.

I now have time to rest ahead of my next major challenge when I’m sure I’ll be reunited with a good number of those mentioned above, roll on Beachy Head!”

Andrea Hadfield “My second year doing the Pilgrim, and apparently we would be running the route backwards – my memory wasn’t that great of the route anyway (only of the fabulous aid stations!). This event is definitely not one for PBs, instead a day for enjoying our beautiful local countryside, the camaraderie of your fellow runners and eating as much as possible!

The route is brilliant – varied running surfaces, with glorious views, showcased particularly well in the perfect running weather we had, and the event is well organised with great aid stations and friendly marshals. I can’t recommend it enough – running with a group of SJs was the icing on the top of a particularly delicious cake!”

Lina Johnson“The Farnham Pilgrim marathon is a tough but beautiful course and although the hills are challenging, the view was worth the climb. It was such a great race which was made even better by running it with friends from Sandhurst Joggers. It makes a huge difference running with friends and being able to keep each other going. It was a fantastic day and I would definitely recommend doing it!”

Sounds like a great event, with some superb running by the various members involved! I look forward to hearing all about next year’s event!

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