Race Report: Three Castles 50km


This was an inaugural race, but I’m sure it will return next year and would encourage anyone wanting to try something a little longer to enter. It started at 9am on the banks of the Medway in the shadow of Rochester Castle, and followed the river path past Allington Castle and then on to Tonbridge Castle before the finish at Tonbridge School Sports Centre. A diversion near Yalding meant the race would be a little long at 51.5km, but it is also the flattest 50k race I know as the route sticks to the river bank almost the entire way. If you are of a pessimistic nature, you could also describe it as all uphill!

I was pleasantly surprised to see Lucille and a couple of former Harriers (Jane Roome and June Edwardes-Evans) at the start, as I’m often the only Harrier at ultra marathon events. I believe there was another member of the club – Paul Ketterer – running, but the results don’t list club names and I didn’t see him, so it may have been a different Paul.

We had been warned that there were a couple of tricky sections – a couple of miles where vegetation had overgrown the path, and a slippery muddy section near Wateringbury, but other than that the path was in great condition. The early overgrown section came up after only 2 miles, so it forced us all to run in single file and slow down, which is a good thing on longer races where the temptation is to start too fast.

There were three well spaced aid stations on the route, with a fantastic spread of sandwiches, fruit, and various sweet and savory snacks, and with the sun shining, stopping for a picnic seemed like a nice idea but I stuck to my normal race routine – grab a couple of items and then walk until i’ve finished eating. With my injury worries hopefully behind me, and good fueling I was feeling strong and still running well when I arrived in Tonbridge. Mentally it was a little bit of a challenge running past the castle and knowing instead of turning right at The Slade and along the path to the school track we had to follow the Medway Valley path out towards Powdermills and only then turn towards Hildenborough before coming back towards Tonbridge on the London Road. Running across the final couple of fields I saw a couple of runners ahead of me and that gave me the motivation to keep going and try and catch them, which I finally managed as I turned onto the footpath around the sports centre car park. That path has never felt so steep!

Sadly the race day conflicted with Bob’s memorial run, but the finish line was the track at Tonbridge School where I spent many hours chatting to Bob over the years, so I made sure I pushed hard as I joined the track for the final 300m, and remembered him calling out encouragement from the trackside and at various races over the years.

Overall a very enjoyable race, and very convenient for getting home afterwards. The hot dogs at the finish also deserve special mention!

1. Charlotte Johnston 4:21:37
2. Claire Stone 4:41:57
3. Claire Rawes 4:49:36
61. Lucille Joannes 8:21:29

1. James MacDonald 3:59:20
2. Lee Sander-King 4:04:31
3. Matthew Harvey 4:23:32
11. David Barker. 5:12:56
26. Paul Ketterer 5:41:55