During a full moon the real nutters go running!

2023 Midnight Marathon

Farnham Runners team before the start of the 2023 Midnight Marathon

By Ivan Chunnett

Instead of having a full moon party, on the 29th of July, nine runners from Farnham Runners, took Craig Tate-Grimes up on his suggestion to run Second Wind Running’s “Midnight Marathon”, leaving from the Queen Elizabeth Country Park at 9 pm and heading out along the South Downs Path to Cocking car park and back. The team joining Craig were Kate Townsend, Richard Denby, Mark Maxwell, Emma Dawson, Linda Tyler, Sue Taylor, Louise Granell and Ivan Chunnett.

This was a last-minute booking with most up us signing up in the week before the marathon. Marathons, especially one as tough as this with over 3,600 feet (approximately 370 flights of stairs), take three to four months of training. So, the plan for most of us was to take it easy and enjoy the event, other than Louise who was looking to push herself. Louise pushed on from the start and ran fantastically finishing as the second lady, with very little training, but she did have to be home early as she was hosting brunch a few hours later, so there was an incentive. (See Louise Granell’s separate report below)

The rest of us settled in for a much more leisurely pace the whole way around. Trail runs are not measured accurately and often have slightly different length to the published distance a marathon being 26.22 miles. Most of our GPS watches measured this to be closer to 27 miles, so, technically this was an ultra-marathon. These are described as runs over 26.22 miles, and we treated it like one, by following two key ultra-rules: “Walk up the hills” and “Don’t forget it is important to eat while you run”.

Farnham Runners team at one of the food stations during the 2023 Midnight Marathon

You walk the hills in an ultra to conserve energy as when you run up a hill you use more energy than you gain in time over walking. This led to the mantra on the run being, “Is that a hill?” and the instantaneous response being “Yes”; towards the end there were some very questionable calls, on what looked more like a nice flat stretch of tarmac but the group had already started to walk before this could be questioned.

It is also important that you eat while you run, it is often said that an ultra is an eating competition and not a running competition. When you are pushing your body to the limits you are burning a lot of calories and if you are not consuming replacement calories or salts you will burn out and are not be able to complete.

We observed this rule but taking ample advantage of the food on offer at the five aid stations and checkpoints. It was almost as if we going on a picnic and having a feast of chocolates, fruits, chips, ice lollies, Coke and water every four or five miles. I think I may have actually put on a few pounds as result!

Craig did help another runner who was on his own, who had been impacted and was battling with cramp at about 20 miles. Craig gave him two of his last salt tablets, which thanks to this and determination he was able to complete the event. For Craig having fewer salt tablets, meant he had to rely on licking some crisps to get salt in order to get through to the end of the run, but it is important to look after fellow runners.

Farnham Runners team running up one of the many hills during the 2023 Midnight Marathon

We were very lucky to have a clear night, with a bright moon, which had been forecast, although, we were dubious as there had been a massive downpour in the morning. It was in fact perfect for running, just a little breezy at points when we were high up on ridges. With eight of us having high powered torches, the night was awash with light and there were no trips or falls which can ruin a run. The views over Harting and Maden were breath-taking and the feeling of adventure being is a small group with torches lighting up the way was a very rewarding and memorable experience.

It was a fantastic way to spend six hours with friends chatting away through the night laughing at each other’s stories. I think we did wake up a farmer or two and the campers that were next to the path as we plodded and laughed our way around the course. The lack of training did catch up on us and the last few miles were hard but we pushed through as a team and crossed the line all together smashing Craig’s previous time by 40 minutes.

A big shout out to Second Wind Running for a great event with well stocked aid stations, friendly marshals and a great medal!

By Louise Granell

Like the rest of the club, I entered the week leading up to the race. I haven’t run over 11km since the London marathon in April, but I have been strength training three times a week. I really think the latter helped me stay in a good condition.

The race started with a steep uphill and it was fairly slippery underfoot.

The South Downs route took in some lovely views, even in the night time. It was so dark with little light pollution.

I reached halfway at 2:15hrs having met another runner doing a similar pace. He had run the course before, so knew all the hills. I just had to concentrate on keeping up. In the last few miles we encouraged each other to keep going and we ran immediately after the hill finished. We finished in 4:34 which wasn’t a bad split!

I was thrilled to finish second lady. I managed about 3 1/2 hours sleep that night, and definitely still need to catch up!

Farnham Runners team with their medals after the 2023 Midnight Marathon

See the Photo Gallery 2023 for further photos