Running the 66-mile Vanguard Way: 28 days to go


The following contemplations emerged today as I ran 30 miles. I should note that I am writing this while crammed on a train feeling nauseous. My judgement is impaired.

Firstly, running along the North Downs Way is hard. My only previous experience of the route was the relatively flat and fast Guildford to Westhumble stretch. Today, I ran east from Westhumble to Oxted, some 18 miles of the route, before peeling north onto the Vanguard Way to Croydon. The section over Box Hill is particularly arduous and consistently up and down, with the gradient markedly steeper than the South Downs. I couldn’t even cover seven miles in my first hour from Westhumble.

Secondly, I don’t know if I can do this ultrarunning thing. It was a lonely affair running on my own for four hours and I couldn’t stop myself Garmin-watching. It’s not easy running for a long time, especially when my tendency is to run as fast as I can. It wasn’t that I was bored. The track was ever-changing, the terrain new and challenging; it was more the odd little niggles that nag and the cumulative weariness of just going on and on and on. There was no runner’s high today.

Thirdly, 66 miles is a very long way. I may have run runs of beyond 60 miles twice, but it seems inconceivable I could do it again. When I reached East Croydon station (after several tedious laps of various parks to get the mileage above 30), my first thought was, how on earth do I now find a further 36 miles? I’m not sure if I can.

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