2023 Beachy Head Marathon report (October 21st)
Beachy Head is the highest chalk cliff in Britain, reaching an altitude of 162 metres above sea level. But it’s not beachy at all. The names derives from the French “Beauchef”, meaning “beautiful headland”, and it really is a beautiful spot overlooking the sea, just west of Eastbourne. The challenge is to try to appreciate this extraordinary landscape as the marathon route takes you up to Beachy Head, something like 24 miles into a run that features a total of 1,353 metres of elevation (according to Strava).
And fair play to the marshals at the bottom of Beachy Head, who warned us to “keep to the left” (i.e. away from the cliff’s edge) as we began the climb, with very strong winds whipping around us. The people here are friendlier than they used to be, as back in the day the local villagers were “wreckers”, who would hang lanterns around the necks of their livestock along Beachy and the Seven Sisters at night, to lure sailors into thinking there were ships ahead. In the days before Garmin, many ships and sailors came a cropper on the rocks.
Anyway, congratulations to the nine hardy Harriers who completed Beachy Head last Saturday, and to a tenth, Ken McSporran, who braved the 32.2-mile Beachy Ultra (5:52:19).
Leading the way for TWH was new member Eren Muduroglu, who somehow completed the marathon in 4:00:00 on the dot. Eren is just built different (and might have a screw loose too) and in finishing 49th from 1,156 finishers, he was second in his M55 category. Eren said: “The first time I saw Ali Farrall, she shouted ‘they are right behind you!’ Which made me pick up the pace!”
Robin Barwick was next in (4:28:20) for a PB, and club chair George Harris (4:34:57) could have ducked under the 4:30 mark too, had he not been so chatty with all the food/drink station volunteers! Still, running Beachy for the fifth time, and in his final marathon as an M45, George set a new PB by four minutes. Applause emoji.
Sue Cooper also excelled, finishing sixth W40 on her Beachy debut (4:51:18), while Paul Ketterer (4:56:45) showed a stubborn streak to beat the five-hour mark considering he was recovering from illness. Kannan Mahalingam left it tight, finishing in 4:59:39, having done his “Loose Kannan” usual and blasted through the first half. Still an excellent debut.
Richard Craig-McFeely also put in an impressive debut, particularly considering this was merely a “training run” for the upcoming Valencia marathon, while Derek Harrison (10th M65) and Deborah Stamp completed a very strong team performance.
Special thanks to Ali, Geoff Turner, Mike Russell and Sam Dranga, who all braved the very challenging wind, rain and mud to support the runners and take pictures. Their cheering and cheery faces were even better than gels.
The race winners were Oliver Varney (SM 3:03:40) and Yvette Clark (Team Bodyworks XTC, W40, 3:56:30 and 40th position overall).