Sussex Beacon Half Marathon: 22 February 2004
Bright sunshine at first, becoming cloudy later; strong, bitterly cold wind
This is a mostly flat course along the Brighton-Hove-Rottingdean sea front,
starting and finishing on Madeira Drive (also where the London-Brighton bike and
car events finish).
This race would be a good choice for slower runners, as there was a steady trickle
of finishers right up to 3 hours, coming home to enthusiastic applause.
We started off towards Hove Lagoon, about 3.5 miles away, with the wind at our
backs. The race is quite crowded at first, which slows things down and also means
that it is quite easy to miss the first two mile markers (well, I missed them!)
making it harder to judge your pace. You also have to be careful to avoid
collisions with tourists (even in February!).
Coming back, I found it was possible to reduce the effect of the headwind by
running close to the long line of beach huts. At the Brighton Marina, the route
climbs a set of steps (easy to slip on) and then a short hill up to the top of the
cliffs. Up here there is no protection from the wind, and I found my hands and
lower lip going numb with the cold. This was undoubtedly the hardest section of
the course, with the headwind slowing the pace by about 45 sec/mile.
The return section from Rottingdean is on a pleasant undulating grass course for
about two miles, a welcome chance to warm up again without the headwind.
There are no showering facilities at the finish, but this was compensated by the
free lunch offered to all the runners by the DaDu restaurant (on the sea front,
near the West Pier), one of the sponsors of the race. An excellent pasta meal
served in a friendly atmosphere. The walk from the finish makes a good warm down
On the way back to the car park after lunch, I noticed that the start/finish
gantry had been blown down by the wind, making a nasty dent in the roof of
somebody's car. Lucky it didn't happen during the race.
Race report by Neil Hall.
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